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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 414

Here are some important quotes from Women on the Margins:

  • In the Prologue, which the author, Natalie Zemon Davis, fashions as an imagined conversation between her and the three women she writes about in her book, the author tells these women, "You found things on margins. You were all adventurous. You each tried to do something no one had ever done before." The author informs the subjects about why she chose to write about them and how magical their lives were, as they found power and created art even while living on the margins as women in the 17th century.
  • "For the time being, as she strove to order the hopes, joys, and disappointments of her life, she was addressing herself as much as her children" (page 6). Glikl bas Judah Leib wrote her Yiddish autobiography for her children but also for herself, as a way to make sense of her life.
  • "...Hers is the first autobiography from a Jewish woman that we know of from the past. But Glikl never described herself as doing something odd or new" (page 19). Even though Glikl was quite revolutionary by recording the story of her life, she did not see herself that way.
  • "Indeed, the act of abandonment, from which all her relatives tried to dissuade her, was for her a form of spiritual heroism" (page 72). In this quote, the author speaks about Marie de L'Incarnation's decision to give up her son so that she could dedicate herself to God as an Ursuline nun. Rather than see this decision as wrong, she saw it as a route to holiness because it was the ultimate sacrifice.
  • "Marie talked about the Amerindians as 'being given to us'" (page 95) and "Marie's teaching was the heart of her apostolic work; she described it as a source of joy even when she had times of spiritual suffering and agonies of unworthiness" (page 98). These quotes discuss Marie de L'Incarnation's love of teaching Amerindian women in Canada. She also learned to master their languages and saw teaching them as a route to serving God.
  • "Not only was she skilled in watercolor and oils, in painting textiles and engraving copperplates; not only could she render flowers, plants, and insects with perfect naturalness; but she was also a knowing observer of the habits of caterpillars, flies, spiders, and other creatures" (page 140). In this quote, the author speaks about the remarkable abilities of Maria Sibylla Merian, a German painter who was skilled at portraying insects in her art.

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