Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Combining essays and lectures from various published and unpublished sources, Red Emma Speaks contains the best of Emma Goldman’s writings on political and social issues. Emma Goldman was a national figure—if not a household word—in the two decades preceding World War I, and she was considered by many, including the young J. Edgar Hoover, the most dangerous woman in America when she was deported during the “Red Scare” of 1919. Though not a Communist, she was for nearly fifty years misunderstood by the American public as “Red Emma,” the implacable enemy of polite society, a woman whose only goal was the destruction of the institutions that make America strong and, ultimately, America itself. Goldman did target such institutions as marriage, the family, government, and religion, but her contention was always that these institutions weakened and enslaved humankind. Red Emma Speaks focuses on Goldman’s wide-ranging thought on the events and issues of her time and on her vision of anarchism (the absence of government) as the single truth that she hoped would reshape the world.

The importance of Emma Goldman’s life and work to women’s issues and concerns should not be underestimated. Although she disagreed with many of the leading feminists of her day on major issues confronting women, she was a more innovative, more radical, and certainly more militant advocate for the emancipation of women than were the acknowledged...

(The entire section is 591 words.)