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By Donna Dickenson (auth.)

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41 During Fuller's lifetime, Thoreau had prefigured James's depiction of Fuller as an improvisatrice, calling 'The Great Lawsuit' 'rich extempore writing, talking with pen in hand'. Poe said he knew of no style superior to Fuller's. ' 115 This was generous, considering Poe's advice to aspiring women writers in his journal, the Southern Literary Messenger: 'Dear Aunts ... If you have nothing to say, do not write "Poetry". ll 6 But Poe tempered his unwonted praise for a female writer with the remark that a [male] poet's work is truer to his highest self than is his life.

It seems more than a little suspicious that James pronounced George Sand, too, an 'improvisatrice'. Since Sand left behind over one hundred volumes of fiction, travel narrative, political and literary essays, plays and autobiography, it was harder for James to assert that she 'left nothing behind her, her written utterance being naught'. ' 120 Nevertheless Fuller published five books in her short life, along with the trunk-filling history of the Italian revolution which went down in the shipwreck.

It is almost as if Hawthorne and Emerson were trying to convince themselves of Fuller's ugliness, particularly after her death, when they no longer had her brilliant eyes to look into for disproof. Did the gentlemen protest too much? Throughout The Blithedale Romance the narrator, Miles Coverdale, makes openly sexual remarks about Zenobia. On first meeting her, he admits to imagining her in 'Eve's earliest garment' (448). Hastening to put his sexual fantasies down to her 'scorning the petty restraints which take the life and colour out of other women's conversation', (448) he is still panting a few pages later: She should have made it a point of duty, moreover, to sit endlessly to painters and sculptors, and preferably to the latter; because the cold decorum of the marble would consist with the utmost scantiness of drapery, so that the eye might chastely be gladdened with her material perfection in its entireness.

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