Essays Poetry Theory

On Lies, Secrets & Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978

On Lies, Secrets & Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978Adrienne RichWW Norton & Company1979

In this collection of prose writings, one of America’s foremost poets and feminist theorists reflects upon themes that have shaped her life and work. At issue are the politics of language; the uses of scholarship; and the topics of racism, history, and motherhood among others called forth by Rich as “part of the effort to define a female consciousness which is political, aesthetic, and erotic, and which refuses to be included or contained in the culture of passivity.”

On Lies, Secrets, and Silence is a sort of travel diary, documenting Adrienne Rich’s journeys to the frontier and into the interior. It traces the development of one individual consciousness, “playing over such issues as motherhood, racism, history, poetry, the uses of scholarship, the politics of language”. Rich has written a headnote for each essay, briefly discussing the circumstances of its writing. “I find in myself both severe and tender thoughts toward the women I have been, whose thoughts I find here.”

Table of Contents

1. Foreword: On History, Illiteracy, Passivity, Violence, and Women’s Culture
2. The Tensions of Anne Bradstreet (1966)
3. When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision (1971)
4. Teaching Language in Open Admissions (1972)
5. Antifeminist Woman Woman (1972)
6. Observing, Preserving, Conspiring, Surviving: The Poems of Eleanor Ross Taylor (1972)
7. Jane Eyre: The Temptations of a Motherless Woman (1973)
8. Caryatid: Two Columns
I Vietnam and Sexual Violence
II Natalya Gorbanevskaya
9. Anne Sexton: 1928-1974 (1974)
10. Toward a Woman-Centered University (1973-74)
11. Vesuvius at Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson (1975)
12. Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying (1975)
13. Motherhood in Bondage (1976)
14. “It Is The Lesbian In Us…” (1976)
15. Conditions for Work: The Common World of Women (1976)
16. Husband-Right and Father-Right (1977)
17. Meaning of Our Love for Women is What We Have Constantly to Expand (1977)
18. Claiming an Education (1977)
19. Taking Women Students Seriously (1978)
20. Power And Danger: Works of a Common Woman (1977)
21. Motherhood: The Contemporary Emergency and the Quantum Leap (1978)
22. Disloyal to Civilization: Feminism, Racism, Gynephobia (1978)