The Anatomy of Freedom
Preface to the Digital Edition
“Truly a book of great interest, The Anatomy of Freedom sheds genuine new light on the ‘woman question.’ Bravo!” — Simone de Beauvoir
Originally published in 1982, The Anatomy of Freedom is a classic feminist work by award-winning poet, best-selling author, and activist Robin Morgan. The preface to the digital edition, which will be released from Open Road Media on November 11th, shows why this complex, personal, and visionary book still strongly resonates with readers today.
Despite frequent well-meaning questions as to an author’s favorite among her own books, she can no more honestly answer than a parent could fairly pick out a favorite child. You love different works for different reasons, and if you have followed through on your childhood dream of becoming “a woman of letters” who writes in different genres, you certainly wouldn’t want to scrunch your poetry in to compete with your memoirs, nonfiction with plays, novels with anthologies, and so forth. That said, The Anatomy of Freedom — first published in 1982 and rereleased in this second edition with a new foreword and afterword in 1994 — holds a special place in my heart, life, and library. Despite major personal upheavals during its gestation and completion, I had such fun writing it.
Anatomy was a balance-defying leap forward in what I now can see has been a progression not only in my political thinking but in the style of my nonfiction. The political thinking can’t be summed up in a preface; that’s what the book is for, after all. But I can address style and the way mine has tried to move up off the page and into the immediacy of the intelligence and emotions of the reader — metaphorically and literally. This book is an interactive work written before the Internet changed our lives. In a sense, it has been waiting to come into its own as an ebook. It’s an attempt to make literary form follow nonlinear philosophical-political function — and then some. So fasten your seatbelt and grab my hand, because with this book we step off the edge and take flight.
The four dimensions of the subtitle are the political, the scientific, the personal, and a challenging, too-rarely-examined concept that I call the readiness for freedom.
With Anatomy, I came out of the geek closet and explored my amateur’s passion for science, from microphysics to astrophysics and cosmology. I even had the hubris to use the framework of theoretical quantum physics (explained herein in plain English) as the organic model for the visionary politics required at this point to save ourselves, one another, and the planet. Ambitious? You think?
And if I was going to bring my reader with me into demystifying the strange world of charmed quarks and red shift, of string theory and branes, of permeable realities, why then, the style had best reflect that. (Fortunately, the science is not out of date, since it is primarily that of theoretical physics; there is still no unified theory of everything, much less one for feminism.)
But back to form following function. There is a dance of styles in these pages. There are stories — fables, you could say. And short parables. And diary entries. And dreams. There are coded messages between a wife and husband whose marriage is ending, translations that approximate what each might say to the other, if only. There are meditations on racism, international politics, technology, age, families, erotic joy, even death. A wild, romantic, sexually passionate affair glitters through these pages, weaving in and out of analyses of children’s rights, environmental crises, and men’s need for feminism. And there is a grand fugue in which the author’s dream self, waking self, child self, and old self appear, along with Søren Kierkegaard’s fiancé, Regina Olsen; Thomas Jefferson’s enslaved lover, Sally Hemings; and Erwin Schrödinger’s cat — plus electrons, computers, cacti, and Lucy, the australopithecine mother of us all.
So let this book happen to you. Imagine Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach crossed with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s commentary pulling it together — while Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are watching, interrupting, laughing, and eating popcorn.
New York City
Excerpted from The Anatomy of Freedom by Robin Morgan. Copyright © 1982, 1994 by Robin Morgan. Reprinted by permission of Open Road Media. All Rights Reserved.
Available for purchase in ebook format on Amazon and wherever ebooks are sold November 11th.