Exquisite Rebel

The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre -- Anarchist, Feminist, Genius

By Voltairine de Cleyre
Edited by Sharon Presley & Crispin Sartwell

Subjects: Women's Studies, Radical History, Political Philosophy, Feminist
Paperback : 9780791460948, 348 pages, February 2005
Hardcover : 9780791460931, 348 pages, February 2005

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Table of contents

Preface by Candace Falk


Part I: Biographical Essays: Three Views of Voltairine de Cleyre


"Priestess of Pity and Vengeance" by Crispin Sartwell
"The Exquisite Rebel: The Anarchist Life of Voltairine de Cleyre" by Sharon Presley
"Emma Goldman's 'Voltairine de Cleyre': A Moving but Flawed Tribute" by Sharon Presley
"Voltairine de Cleyre" by Emma Goldman


Part II: Loving Freedom: Anarchism Without Adjectives


Introduction by Sharon Presley

"Why I am an Anarchist"
"Events are the True Schoolmaster"
"Anarchism and American Traditions"
"A Correction"


Part III: Wild Freedom: A Passion for Liberty and Justice


Introduction by Sharon Presley

"The Dominant Idea"
"Crime and Punishment"
"In Defense of Emma Goldman"


Part IV: Neither Gods nor Superstitions: Freethought and Religion


Introduction by Sharon Presley

"The Economic Tendency of Freethought"
"Secular Education"


Part V: No Authority But Oneself: The Anarchist Feminist Philosophy of Autonomy and Freedom


Introduction by Sharon Presley

"Those Who Marry Do Ill"
"The Case of Woman Versus Orthodoxy"
"The Woman Question"
"Sex Slavery"
"The Political Equality of Women"


Part VI: Not Another Brick in the Wall: Nonauthoritarian Education


Introduction by Crispin Sartwell and Sharon Presley

"Modern Educational Reform"


Part VII: Breaking the Chains: Changing Society through Direct Action


Introduction by Crispin Sartwell

"Direct Action"
"The Eleventh of November, 1887"
"Our Present Attitude"
"McKinley's Assassination From the Anarchist Standpoint"


Part VIII: The Political is the Personal: Anarchist Esthetics


Introduction by Crispin Sartwell

"Literature the Mirror of Man"



Brings the writings of de Cleyre out of undeserved obscurity.


2005 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

Emma Goldman called Voltairine de Cleyre "the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced. " Yet her writings and speeches on anarchism and feminism—as radical, passionate, and popular at the time as Goldman's—are virtually unknown today. This important book brings de Cleyre's eloquent and incisive work out of undeserved obscurity. Twenty-one essays are reprinted here, including her classic works: "Anarchism and the American Tradition," "The Dominant Idea," and "Sex Slavery. " Three biographical essays are also included: two new ones by Sharon Presley and Crispin Sartwell, and a rarely reprinted one from Emma Goldman.

At a time when the mainstream women's movement asked only for the right to vote and rarely challenged the status quo, de Cleyre demanded an end to sex roles, called for economic independence for women, autonomy within and without marriage, and offered a radical critique of the role of the Church and State in oppressing women. In today's world of anti-globalization actions, de Cleyre's anarchist ideals of local self-rule, individual conscience, and decentralization of power still remain fresh and relevant.

Voltairine de Cleyre (1866–1912) was one of the most original and important anarchist intellectuals of her time. Sharon Presley teaches psychology at California State University at Hayward. She is the founder and Executive Director of Resources for Independent Thinking and the National Coordinator of the Association of Libertarian Feminists. Crispin Sartwell is Associate Professor of Art and Art History at Dickinson College and the author of several books. His most recent book is Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory, also published by SUNY Press. His political writing appears in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Harper's, among other outlets. He also writes a syndicated weekly opinion column.