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Lines of Fire
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452281466, Mass Market Paperback)In war, the voices of women often go unheard. When they are heard, they tend to be stereotypical, affectedly feminine: women as survivors, mourners, and sufferers. Literary scholar Margaret R. Higonnet decries this short-shrifting of women's contributions to war history, challenging the assumption that because women are excluded from combat (and even that assumption turns out to be false), their stories are necessarily secondary, inauthentic, or otherwise not "real."
World War I, in particular, proved significant for women because, as Higonnet points out, "many women ... contributed to the war effort in the expectation that they would gain the right to vote when the war was over." Their efforts were validated; with suffrage later passing in many combatant countries, the war changed the role of women for good. In Lines of Fire, Higonnet has gathered an overwhelming collection of works written by women in the midst of that conflict, works both political and poetic, from fiction to journalism to verse. Well over 100 distinct voices have been assembled, cited, and translated, representing an enormous spectrum of perspectives: a Hungarian countess recalls inspecting Russian POW camps for the Red Cross; an Italian field nurse recounts a grisly amputation; a French novelist describes prisoner prostitutes being mechanically called from their "dorm" by German soldiers ("Charlotte Z..., three chocolate bars ... Louise G..., one mark and a bar.").
The contributors to Lines of Fire include some of the century's best-known women writers--Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Anna Akhmatova--and personalities such as Mata Hari and Jeanette Rankin (America's first female U.S. representative). As a scholarly anthology, Higonnet's work is weighty and worthy, but the quality that may recommend it most is its sheer accessibility. Its nearly 700 pages will pass quickly with a snippet read here and another there--short, memorable trips into the lives of remarkable women living in a remarkable time. --Paul Hughes
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:54 -0400)
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