Estelle B. Freedman, editor
The Essential Feminist Reader.
Modern Library, 444 pages, $17.95

In case anyone needed further evidence that the bell tolled for an authentic feminist movement decades ago, they need look no further than the newest anthology of feminist writings out this month from Random House’s Modern Library imprint. The collection is edited and introduced by Stanford University’s Estelle Freedman, who aimed to compile writings that trace “the woman question in early-modern Europe to the feminist debates of the past century [in the] variety of philosophical and literary texts [that] document this rich literary tradition.”

Including works drawn from more than six centuries of “feminist” writing (or at least, writing by and about women—not necessarily the same thing), the anthology certainly covers a lot of territory in its aim to document “both...


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