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Almost a man of genius: Clémence Royer, feminism, and by Joy Harvey

By Joy Harvey

Clemence Royer used to be a 19th-century Frenchwoman most likely top identified for generating the 1st French translation of Charles Darwin. despite the fact that, her efforts went a lot extra, encompassing anthropology, physics, philosophy, cosmology, and chemistry. during this full-scale biography, Harvey, a technological know-how historian and previous affiliate editor of Cambridge University's Darwin Correspondence venture, lines Royer's notable lifestyles.

A feminist who made lifelong enemies nearly as quite simply as she made pals, Royer was once by no means capable of adopt formal, complex schooling and used to be a manufactured from her personal self-study efforts. purely in her previous couple of years was once she officially famous by means of numerous expert societies and presented the French Legion of Honor. Harvey contains an outline of previous biographical remedies, the textual content of an 1874 verbal exchange on "Women, technological know-how, and the start Rate," and huge notes.

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Additional resources for Almost a man of genius: Clémence Royer, feminism, and nineteenth-century science

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Well-chosen readings" and the conversation of the adults around her had made her sensitive to language and to learning. During her childhood, her parents substituted a love for theater for their lost political life. They loved musical theater especially, often singing together at home. They even tried their hands at song writing and instructed their little girl in the rules of verse making, which gave her an early facility in turning out occasional verse. She shared their love for the theater, sometimes attending plays with them, sometimes taken by her nurse.

Her mission, as she saw it, was to construct a philosophy that would make the world comprehensible, using science as a tool to do so. 5 At the age of forty, Royer began to rethink Newtonian physics. Never had she felt such happiness, she said, as when she saw a way to reinterpret Newton's physics. This delight in the life of the mind makes her always interesting to read, as she draws the reader into sharing her pleasure. Royer's constant cry for priority over male scientists and her insistence on her originality derived in part from a desire to reverse the common nineteenth-century judgment that women, regardless of education or intelligence, lacked creative capacities except for childbearing.

She could now live her life in her own way, with the small inheritance of a piece of property for her dowry. We shall find reasons in the next chapter to raise questions about the apparent straightforwardness of Clémence Royer's transition from her late teens to her early twenties, and to investigate the dangerous situations to which the Page 16 loss of her father may have exposed her. The novel she wrote ten years later describes in vivid detail the rape of a young girl by her cousin at the age of eighteen.

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