New Amazonia: A Foretaste of the Future

Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett
Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett. Aqueduct/Heirloom (www.aqueductpress.com), $15 trade paper (195p) ISBN 978-1-61976-048-6
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In 1889, proto-feminist Corbett documented her imagined visit to New Amazonia, a matriarchal society established on the island of Ireland. The narrator, falling asleep after reading an upsetting open letter from a group of ladies denouncing women’s suffrage, dreams her way into a world where women are in charge. More concerned with observation than plot, Corbett documents the clothing, industry, laws, and ethics of New Amazonia, contrasting them periodically with contemporary England. Firmly in the tradition of works such as Thomas Moore’s Utopia and Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall, this tract makes for fascinating study but dull reading. Feminist scholar Alexis Lothian’s introduction does an excellent job of contextualizing the fiction and asserting its importance to literary history while highlighting its many problems where race, ability, and imperialism are concerned. Though of little interest to the casual reader, Corbett’s vision will fascinate students of women’s literary and political history. (Feb.)
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