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Olympe de Gouges, French activist and playwright, has for centuries been called illiterate, immoral, and insane while being mentioned almost uniquely for her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and [the female] Citizen (1791). However, her plays and pamphlets imagine in vivid terms the consequences of natural right and their potential for transforming the autocratic state and family. She wrote nearly fifty plays, of which about a dozen have been recovered, and innumerable polemical letters, posters, brochures, and essays. This book uncovers her radical views of the self, the family, and the state and accounts for her vision of increasing female agency and decreasing the entitlements of aristocratic males. Here, Sherman examines and refutes the calumny de Gouges's reputation has suffered and proves that this intriguing historical figure deserves to be read instead of simply being talked about.
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