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Become Who You Are

Hedwig Dohm, Elizabeth G. Ametsbichler

Publication Year: 2006

Hedwig Dohm (1831–1919) was a thinker and writer significantly ahead of her time. She championed women’s rights in Germany and criticized with acerbic wit the social, political, and familial inequities inherent in gender relationships at the time of the first wave of the women’s movement. Her novella Become Who You Are is about a woman, Agnes Schmidt, whose husband has died and who is grappling with finding an identity for herself as an aging widow—reflecting the restrictions imposed especially on aging, widowed women who often yearn for a life and identity of their own. Also included here is the English translation of Dohm’s essay, “The Old Woman,” which is a compelling call for women to resist the social, intellectual, psychological, and physical restraints placed on women of Dohm’s time.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Women Writers in Translation

Front Matter

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Often, I have been politely asked about my current research project. When I reply that I am working on a nineteenth-century German woman writer named Hedwig Dohm, the reactions I receive are unknowing nods or blank and questioning looks that precede the question: who was Hedwig Dohm? This question is typical not only of my American friends, but also of colleagues ...

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pp. xiii

I would like to thank colleagues, friends, and family who helped me with this translation project through their encouragement and moral support. I am particularly grateful to the proofreaders of the translation; they helped the translation significantly with their thoughtful comments, suggestions, and insights. Assistant Professor ...

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Become Who You Are

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pp. 1-66

... the mental hospital of Doctor Behrend, in the vicinity of Berlin, an old woman—she would have been about sixty—created quite a sensation. She had delicate, interesting facial features, thick, gray hair, and big green eyes. These eyes never stared into space. Either they were shiny, dead to the outer world, gazing inwardly at something, or they ...

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The Old Woman

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pp. 67-80

... I have already fought for the rights of the woman, for the rights of the young girl, of the wife, of the mother. I have barely touched on the old woman here and there. I want to talk about her now; about the poor old woman who is like a shadow that creation—to the displeasure of humanity—casts. If the woman is or was generally—until a short ...

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pp. 81-100

Hedwig Dohm was born in 1831, the third child and oldest daughter of eighteen children.1 Her father was the factory owner Gustav Adolph Gotthold Schlesinger, who converted to Christianity in 1817 and changed his name to the less Jewish-sounding Schleh in 1851. He didn’t marry her mother,Wilhelmine Henriette Jülich, ...


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pp. 101-106


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pp. 107-112


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pp. 113-122

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482476
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791466032
Print-ISBN-10: 0791466035

Page Count: 136
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series, Women Writers in Translation