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Concord Companions: Margaret Fuller, Friendship, and Desire

Martin RK & Edwards JD (2015) Concord Companions: Margaret Fuller, Friendship, and Desire. Canadian Review of American Studies, 45 (1), pp. 83-100.

In this paper, we examine the rhetoric of friendship and desire in mid-nineteenth-century American writing. We begin by looking at Emerson's essay on friendship and Thoreau's poem "Sympathy" (1840) to provide a context for reading Margaret Fuller's fascinating texts on samesex bonds between women. Of particular interest to us is Fuller's translation of Elizabeth von Arnim's Die Gunderode (1840), a collection of letters between Arnim and the German Romantic poet Karoline von Gunderode which provides compelling insights into the early to mid-nineteenth-century continuum between female friendship and same-sex desire. We situate this translation alongside Fuller's own female friendships and expressions of love for women, more specifically her declarations of love to Anna Barker and, later, to George Sand. This latter relationship, we suggest, was a source of admiration and anxiety, for Sand's cross-dressing and fluid sense of gender identity was simultaneously celebrated and condemned in Fuller's Women in the Nineteenth Century (1843).

female friendship; Margaret Fuller; Henry Thoreau; Ralph Waldo Emerson; homosexuality in the nineteenth century

Canadian Review of American Studies: Volume 45, Issue 1

Author(s)Martin, Robert K; Edwards, Justin D.
Publication date30/04/2015
PublisherUniversity of Toronto Press
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