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A landmark survey of disenfranchised literary voices and the forces that seek to silence them--from the influential activist and author of Tell Me a Riddle.
With this groundbreaking work, Olsen revolutionized the study of literature by shedding critical light on the writings of marginalized women and working-class people. From the excavated testimony of authors' letters and diaries, Olsen shows us the many ways the creative spirit, especially in those disadvantaged by gender, class, or race, has been suppressed through the years. Olsen recounts the torments of Herman Melville, the shame that brought Willa Cather to a dead halt, and the struggles of Olsen's personal heroine Virginia Woolf, the greatest exemplar of a writer who confronted the forces that worked to silence her.
First published in 1978, Silences expanded the literary canon and the ways readers engage with literature. This 25th-anniversary edition includes Olsen's classic reading lists of forgotten authors and a new introduction. Bracing and prescient, Silences remains "of primary importance to those who want to understand how art is generated or subverted and to those trying to create it themselves" (Margaret Atwood, The New York Times Book Review).
"A valuable book, an angry book, a call to action." --Maxine Hong Kingston
"Silences helped me to keep my sanity many a day." --Gloria Naylor, author of Mama Day
" Silences is] 'the Bible.' I constantly return to it." --Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
"Silences will, like A Room of One's Own, be quoted where there is talk of the circumstances in which literature is possible." --Adrienne Rich, author of Diving into the Wreck