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The Odyssey of Flora Tristan


Laura S. Strumingher

Flora Tristan began life as the pampered daughter of the aristocracy; she knew poverty and disappointment as a youth, and experienced abuse and discrimination as an adult. Her personal struggle to regain a position in society was eclipsed by a growing commitment to lead the struggle of the oppressed for freedom and equality. She traveled extensively, read widely, and met many of the important social thinkers of the 1830's. Gradually she formed a vision of an egalitarian society in which men and women, young and old, had access to education and jobs. She died trying to rally workers to an international, egalitarian Worker's Union.
Contents: Flora Tristan's brief life (1803-44) is representative of a broad array of nineteenth century women's issues: marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody laws; severely limited education; minimal job opportunities; poor pay; double sexual standards; physical frailty, sickness and concern with dress reform. Unlike the majority of her contemporaries, Tristan assumed control of her destiny and became a powerful leader of men and women. Recent re-editions and translations of Tristan's work call for a new interpretation of her life.