Books for Repressive Times

Think for yourself. Stand up for what you believe and know to be
right. Live a life that is congruent with your elemental values,
regardless of public sentiment or political cost. These things are
easier said than done, but each generation, culture, and field has
heroes who model how to live this way. Some become widely known,
even notorious, though most toil obscurely. So it is with a handful
of American anarchists who lived a century ago but whose thoughts
live on in recently published books.

Exquisite Rebel: The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre,
Anarchist, Feminist, Genius
, co-edited by Sharon Presley
and Crispin Sartwell (State University of New York Press) is one of
two new editions bringing Voltairine De Cleyre’s caustic, incisive
essays back in print. It includes seven essays that didn’t appear
in Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre, edited by
Alexander Berkman in 1914, with context provided by the editors. A
good introduction to De Cleyre’s prose and ideas: ‘Sex Slavery,’ a
slow burn on double standards, marital rape, and
‘illegitimacy.’

The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader, edited by A.J.
Brigati (AK Press), contains fewer essays (one unique to this
collection), but notably includes some of De Cleyre’s florid
poetry. The 23 poems here exclaim against injustice even as they
embrace despair, with a tension mirroring that of the author’s life
(‘God is a lie, and Faith is a lie, / And a tenfold lie is Love . .
.’).

Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American
Years, Volume 2: Making Speech Free, 1902-1909
(University
of California Press), edited by Candace Falk and Barry Pateman,
continues the work of the Emma Goldman Papers Project, publishing a
wealth of source material: newspaper articles about Goldman,
interviews, excerpts from a grilling by immigration officials, an
arrest warrant, a telegram from Goldman and comrades to Theodore
Roosevelt, and letters by Goldman to allies and intimates.

Life of an Anarchist: The Alexander Berkman
Reader
, edited by Gene Fellner (Seven Stories Press),
first published in 1992, has recently been re-issued with a new
foreword by Howard Zinn. It excerpts Berkman’s fascinating
Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist and his short-lived journal
The Blast (on such topics as military registration and language
during wartime), as well as some of Berkman’s correspondence and
the complete text of ‘The ABC of Anarchism,’ encapsulating
Berkman’s political philosophy.

Also noteworthy: a new trade paperback printing of
Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in
America
, edited by Paul Avrich (AK Press), and
Lucy Parsons: Freedom, Equality & Solidarity: Writings
& Speeches, 1878-1937
, edited by Gale Ahrens (Charles
H. Kerr).

THIS JUST IN

Nominated for two 2005 National Magazine Awards, The
Virginia Quarterly Review
published a fascinating and
insightful Spring 2005 issue devoted to Walt Whitman’s Leaves
of Grass
, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the book’s
first appearance, with contributions by Diane Ackerman, Robert Bly,
Rafael Campo, Galway Kinnell, and others. $25/yr. (4 issues) from
One West Range, Box 400223, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

Sam Smith’s lively newsletter, Progressive
Review
, reporting on politics from Washington, D.C.,
ceased print publication recently after 387 issues. An eight-time
nominee and one-time Utne Independent Press Award winner, the
Review will continue online:
www.prorev.com

New and recent titles from Sumach Press, the
Toronto-based publisher of books on issues of special concern to
women, include Girls Who Bite Back: Witches, Mutants, Slayers
and Freaks
(edited by Emily Pohl-Weary, creator of the zine
called Kiss Machine) and Doing IT: Women Working in
Information Technology
. For more information: 416/531-6250;
www.sumachpress.com

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