The Public Interest

On the humanity of women

Henry Fairlie

Spring 1971

THIS prophetic passage occurs in a letter written to Francis Xavier Kappus on 14 May, 1904, by Rainer Maria Rilke. It could not be included in the literature of Women’s Liberation. The first sentence sets the issue in its proper context: the change in “the relation of one individual person to a second individual” which has been the most significant revolution of the past hundred years, and is not yet finished. Of this revolution, the emancipation of women is a part, and it is only as a part of it that the movement can hope to find and keep its bearings. But in the literature of the various sects of Womens Liberation, I have found no more than a few scattered hints of this broad and humanizing perspective.

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