When I initially found A Vindication for the Rights of Women (Illustrated) (for the name of the illustrator, see the title of this post), I was certain that it would be The Love of My Life. I had been languidly flicking through endless the “Recommended for You” list on my e-reader, increasingly convinced that no one in the freaking world understands me, judging by how Amazon was so CLEARLY MISSING THE MARK on what I would want to read…* when this title stopped me. It was too good to be true: a classic text that I knew from experience would kindle my feminist spirit, paired with illustrations, which, judging by the cover, would be so bad ass that they may even prove to be tattoo-worthy.
However, the high expectations for the pictures in the book were not met. Yes, I read the sample. I figured that perhaps the cooler illustrations would be hidden later in the book, because once the concept of an illustrated Vindication was introduced to me, it was too good to be given up on. Thus, I paid the two bucks it cost and dove in.
Of course, I knew what to expect from Wollstonecraft, the literature itself was as rich and intellectual as I remembered, even if it did take time and patience to readjust to the parlance of 18th century prose. It’s also convenient to read Vindication on Kindle, because all the fancy lingo merely requires a poke to be defined.**
But, yeah, the illustrations. They were a series of simply rendered portraits. Nothing I’d have drilled into my skin, but nice enough. At first, I figured they were various forms of Wollstonecraft with artistic license, then I came across portraits in which Wollstonecraft suddenly took on the uncanny resemblances of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, and I oh-so belatedly realized that these were all portraits of DIFFERENT feminist figures throughout history. I couldn’t recognize them all, and wished the ebook had some kind of answer key to who was who. Alas, there was none to be found. These portraits weren’t a HORRIBLE choice. I don’t feel like I was ripped off, or insanely misled like I did with the Faerie Queene. They merely didn’t meet my expectations. And that’s okay.
Of course, it turns out that the artist responsible for the cover was not the same artist who provided the portraits, which explains a lot.
There are some errors in the text of this edition. The content isn’t misrepresented per se, but there are paragraph breaks where there shouldn’t be – at least compared to the Dover Thrift Edition, which I’m more inclined to believe, paragraph-break wise.
Highlighting is a sketchy experience. This is more Kindle’s fault than an edition-specific error. Every so often, there will be a phrase underlined with a dotted line and a note of how many people highlighted it. This is eerie, and annoying. Being a heavy annotator, it makes me a little self-conscious, as well as guilt-tripped because I’d loathe to contribute to this annoyance by highlighting anything. I don’t know if other e-readers do that, or if it’s just Kindle.
Thus, if you’d like to read Vindication, you could just as easily save yourself two bucks and find it at your local library. That or download it for free – she is public domain, after all.
* Such is life when one leaves it to corporations to fulfill their utmost desires. ‘Murcia.
** Mind you, the dictionary on my Kindle didn’t know what “Mahometan” meant (archaic, Muslim, I don’t know if it’s derogatory). Judging by the ways Wollstonecraft uses it (offhand, not very much, and employed as an adjective to describe something else), I don’t think she thinks very highly of Islam. It kind of makes me wonder how Islam was perceived in England and France in 1792.