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A Girl Among the Anarchists

3.2 (1898)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | A Girl Among the Anarchists.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Isabel Meredith(Author)

    Book details

This collection of literature attempts to compile many of the classic works that have stood the test of time and offer them at a reduced, affordable price, in an attractive volume so that everyone can enjoy them.

In her introduction, Jennifer Shaddock, a professor of English at Rutgers University, considers the novel's autobiographical and ideological cast. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

3.4 (10498)
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Book details

  • PDF | 108 pages
  • Isabel Meredith(Author)
  • CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (16 Aug. 2017)
  • English
  • 7
  • Fiction

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Review Text

  • By L. Camidge on 7 February 2014

    I will be honest - I was looking for a sweet little early-20th-century edition of this title on Abe books or, preferably, in the nice second-hand bookshop down the road. But several years went by, and it became apparent that such would not be available at any price. And so - although I prefer to hold to the principle that Life is Long - when I decided I really, really wanted to read it, now, I had recourse to print-on-demand. Ah, those print-on-demand editions. Too big. Too floppy. the cover? Well, just look. But presumably the original had a vanishing-point print-run. And was promptly thrown away by most of its buyers.Well, you can't blame them. "Isabel Meredith" was the daughter of William Michael, my favourite Rossetti, the one who worked at the tax office all his life and kept the whole show on the road while his siblings entered nunneries, had crises and dissolved themselves in substance abuse. As readers of A S Byatt's "The Children's Book" may know, the younger generation of Rossettis were involved in the nascent anarchist and socialist movement on a more or less serious basis. It's hard to quarrel with such idealism, and W M Rossetti was fine writer and critic, but the writing genes don't seem to have been passed on.And so this book is pretty much a curiosity. It needs contextualisation - footnotes, an introduction. you don't get any of that with print-on-demand. I wanted to know whether any of these vividly-outlined characters had real-life counterparts. I suspect they must have done. Was that George Bernard Shaw I was glimpsing? Or a young D H Lawrence? That assassination attempt in Spain - did it really happen? And if so, when? Or am I confusing it with another alleged anarchist attack in, say,.... Portugal?But what makes the book worth reading, if you've enjoyed "The Slow-burning Fuse" or any similar analysis of socialism and anarchism before the Great War, is the immediacy of it. The author is quite shockingly critical of her characters: they smell, don't wash, don't work. They offend her puritanical upper-middle class instincts. They accept her money (obviously a grievance). I tried to convince myself that, rather than writing from the heart, "Isabel Meredith" had created a rather disagreeable persona. I fear that this is not the case, but despite herself, "Meredith" presents characters that live despite her disapproval. The risk-taking sense of nothing-to-lose; the sense of community and purpose; the exciting lives in exciting times. Above all, the innocence. Inn the end, we dismiss Meredith. we go and live with the anarchists.The book is structured to trundle on inevitably to crushing disappointment and the loss of innocence. No spoiler here - the state has not withered away and Ramsay McDonald did not bring us a socialist paradise. "Meredith" sells us her disillusionment as an inevitable feature of growing up - of becoming 20th-century people. Many of us will have been there. "I want to be anarchy/ I want to destroy passers-by"? What had gone so terribly wrong? What had happened to love, peace, fellowship and the big idea? I read recently that a speaker, faced with some questioner wanting to know about an anarchist paradise in Africa, defined anarchy as hiding in a cave, hoping only that the person who'd just stolen all your cattle wouldn't come back and kill you, just for fun. "Meredith" didn't live to experience any of this, but she's reaching the same conclusion.So, a bit of empathy there in the mix. A bit of schadenfreude for that Edwardian world, where the people came and went, and played with ideologies, all-unknowing. This book stayed with me. It reminded me that liberal Edwardians weren't kindred spirits, not at all. That they fell innocently fell into a world of desperate men, where life was uncertain and survival held cheap. We're not as far from the siege of Sidney Street as we might like to think: we may comfort ourselves that these desperadoes who were welcomed into Britain and then shot unarmed police after a bungled robbery were Not True Anarchists. but how many degrees of separation were there? Read "A Girl Among the Anarchists". It may well leave you sadder, but wiser.

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