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Quote Of The Day #77
I don’t really have a quote from the book “Burning Questions” for the simple reason that it’s an audible book. I thought I bookmarked the quote I wanted to go back to later on, but when I eventually reviewed all the bookmarks, it was not there. Probably I was cooking at the time. Even if I heard something good and thought of bookmarking it, my hands were occupied and my mind was busy on thinking of the spice to be thrown in the sizzling pan. Anyway, I now realize that unless I re-listen to the whole book again, I can’t find the quote I am looking for.
The quote is about Olympe de Gouges, who was a writer and an activist during the French Revolution. She wrote her “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen”. Wikipedia tells me that she had a very interesting life and lived in a way that was not considered appropriate at the time. She made speeches and published books against the bloodshed of the revolution and those figures in power who had become tyrannical. Needless to say she was eventually beheaded–women who want to be a normal outspoken human being often meet such a fate throughout the history. Actually she was not the only one. It seems that there was a group of women who emerged as activists at the same time.
I had never heard of any women of French Revolution at all. And why didn’t this woman show up in our world history books we had to learn in high school? And why didn’t I ever wonder what women did during that chaotic period? I don’t know which is more annoying, the deliberate omission of the description of women from French Revolution or my incurious and unquestioning self.
I remember those days when I was forced to study it, I really disliked it–too gory and bloody and messy. Almost every revolutionary figure was destined for guillotine, assassination, or some other forms of humiliating downfall. And before such a sad eventuality happened, each would engage in all kinds of intrigues, just to stay one step ahead of their friends or enemies. And the line between friends and enemies was very much blurred. Today’s friends could become tomorrow’s enemy–if one didn’t behead one’s frenemy first, one would surely be beheaded oneself. I felt a little nausea about the whole thing. Change is a good thing, but nobody likes it when the world becomes a slaughter house.
However, knowing this woman figure suddenly makes French Revolution more interesting and inspiring to me. And omission of her from the history textbook might have been a deliberate act of preventing people, especially women, from getting inspired. Well… we all suffer from our upbringing and education in one way or another. The reason that I am having a boring life right now is probably because I have missed all the fun and inspiration that should have belonged to me.
6 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: Questions and Curiosities”
How did you learn about the Revolution without hearing of Olympe de Gouges?? That’s crazy. I took a course on the French Revolution and we learnt quite a bit about her and other women involved in the revolution. But maybe that was because my professor was a woman and wanted us to learn more about that part of history too.
Remember, many boring lives have changed in an instant. Of course, sometimes not for the better. Still, maybe your instant is yet to come.
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Haha, yes, when I watch movies, especially in the beginning, I would often think these people are living a mundane life but their life is going to change very soon. Actually no news is good news for me nowadays and I am pretty settled in my boring life.
For a female perspective on the French Revolution there is also “Romantic Outlaws” by Charlotte Gordon. It tells the life stories of Mary Wollstonecraft (the proto-feminist) and Mary Shelly (her daughter). The first Mary was in Paris during the Reign of Terror.
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I’ve learned a bit about Mary from a book I read about Shelley and Byron. She was such an interesting figure. Even such an independent mind couldn’t have an independent life, away from toxic relationships. I always want to read a book about her but I am always afraid that it would be too sad and too depressing.
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Yes – unfortunately her feminism didn’t extend to her personal romantic life. She was psychologically over-dependent on her relationship with her first (American) husband. It might well be uncomfortable reading for a modern feminist.