On Friday 21st October 2022, from 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud (GL5 1DF), Stroud Radical Reading Group will discuss Emma Goldman’s autobiography Living My Life (discounted copies are available from a local bookshop – click the previous link/see more details below).
If you do not have time to read the fill book (which approaches 600 pages), please focus on the Introduction, Chapter 42/XLII, pages 311-322 of the Penguin Classics edition (in which she discusses the Mother Earth radical newspaper she published, censorship, Feminism and homosexuality), and/or Chapter 52/LII, pages 403-527 of the Penguin Classics edition (which covers Goldman’s experiences in the early Soviet Union).
Buy a copy of the book with a 12% discount from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop. To claim the 12% discount (which reduces the price by £1.92 from £15.99 to £14.07), add the book to your basket, then click to ‘view your basket’, type “StroudRadical”in the ‘Coupon Code’ box, click ‘apply coupon’ and then proceed.
Our events are free to attend, though we will collect donations to cover the costs of venue hire on a donate-what-you-can-afford basis. We try to ensure the discussions are welcoming to new people, including people who have never been to a reading group before – and you don’t have to have been to university. You don’t even have to have read any of the book – you can just come along and listen to the discussion. Some free resources including a sample chapter we’ll focus our discussion on are included below though, and we’d encourage people to read/listen to as much as they can ahead of the session.
““The most dangerous woman in America,” as J. Edgar Hoover described her, took pen in hand in June 1928 to write the events of her tumultuous life. “Red Emma” Goldman, who the popular press claimed owned no God, had no religion, would kill all rulers, and overthrow all laws, chose to begin her autobiography on her fifty-ninth birthday, a task she would later say was the “hardest and most painful” she had ever undertaken. As she wrote about her life, she confronted not only her own loneliness but also the disappointment of her political hopes, the dream that anarchism, which she called her “beautiful ideal,” would take root in her lifetime among the people whose benefit she believed she served…
Eight years earlier, in 1920, America, her adopted country, had deported her as a subversive, leaving her feeling “an alien everywhere,” as she wrote to her friend in exile Alexander Berkman (Nowhere at Home, 170). A permanent, often unwelcome guest in someone else’s country, she would infuse her writing with a sense of loneliness and despair. To Berkman she wrote “hardly anything has come of our years of effort” (ibid., 49). On the eve of fascist victories in Europe, she felt as well the nearness of catastrophe, the likelihood that once again, as it had in 1914, Europe would be convulsed by war.
Underlying this sense of impending disaster, she was aware that political radicals on the left were embracing the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, a revolution she believed had betrayed the expectations of the Russian peasants and workers in whose name Lenin’s government served.” – Miriam Brody in the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of the book
The Exchange has step-free access. We will keep windows open for ventilation, hand sanitiser is provided, and we ask people who are ill to stay away (whether they are ill with covid or something else). Attendees do not generally wear masks but we will be respectful to anyone who chooses to and other members may wear masks at request of other attendees – let us know your preferences in advance. Please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements – or other questions about how the events work.
Freely available resources related to the book are available below. We like to ensure everyone can attendee our sessions and get something out of them even if they can’t afford to buy a copy of the book or the time to read it.
- Read the whole book online for free,
- download one or both of the two focus chapters,
- watch a short video summary of her life,
- watch a video of actor Sandra Oh reading an Emma Goldman speech on patriotism (part of the “Voices of A People’s Hsitory of the United States” events related to Howard Zinn’s famous book)