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613 XENOPOL, Adela (1861–1939) Romanian writer, publicist and liberal feminist. Adela Xenopol was born in 1861 in Iaşi (exact date of birth unknown) into a prominent intellectual family. Her older brother, Alexandru D. (1847–1920) was the first significant modern Romanian historian and a member of the ‘Junimea circle,’ whose leader, Titu Maiorescu, attacked women’s intellectual abilities during a conference held at the Athenaeum in Bucharest in May 1882, and was in turn severely lambasted in the feminist press by Sofia Nădejde. Another older brother, Nicolae, was also a publicist, lawyer and member of the National Liberal Party. Adela was strongly supported by her family in her intellectual ambitions. Like her brothers, she received her higher education abroad and was one of the first women auditors at the Sorbonne. After her return to Iaşi, she began an intensive career in publishing, much of it dedicated to discussions of women’s issues in the spirit of liberal feminism. She made her journalistic debut in January 1879 in Femeia Română (The Romanian woman) with an article entitled “Chestiunea femeilor” (The woman question). With recourse to orientalist imagery, the article praised Femeia Română (edited by Maria Flechtenmacher) for its contribution to “the elimination of … ideas befitting Asian despots that aim to subordinate women legally and morally, against natural laws and rights” (Xenopol 1879). Xenopol adopted a firm stance in favor of liberal feminism and called for women to join the feminist movement. From 1896 to 1898, Xenopol edited the monthly Dochia: the first Romanian journal to dedicate itself fully to defending, supporting and researching women’s rights. The name of the journal was Adela Xenopol’s pen-name: the legendary ‘Dochia’ had supposedly proven her extreme loyalty to the ‘ancestors of the Romanian people,’ the Dacian tribes, by choosing to kill herself lest the Roman Emperor Traian, who had fallen in love with her, should take her to Rome. In a manifesto published in the first issue of Dochia, Xenopol emphasized the economic emancipation of women as the necessary precondition for the improvement of women’s social status in the spheres of intellectual, political and legal life. Through the journal, Xenopol provoked public debate and drew prominent cultural figures into discussions on feminism by inviting 614 them to write for the journal, lending visibility and an air of legitimacy to these debates . Among these figures were the famous writers and publicists Vasile A. Urechia, Cincinat Pavelescu, Elena Sevastos, Smara (Smaranda Andronescu-Gheorghiu), Cornelia Kernbach and Maria Cunţan. Xenopol spoke out fervently against the many prominent politicians who claimed that women, even those with university diplomas, were unable to deal effectively with the pressures of professional life—as men were—and were therefore not entitled to equal education or political rights. Xenopol criticized this patriarchal attitude as being ‘out of step’ with modern times and linked women’s emancipation to a broader liberal agenda: the modernization of state institutions and the economy. In her many publications and talks, Xenopol encouraged women’s organizations to adopt broad democratic goals such as land reform, universal voting rights and educational reform. In the spring of 1914, as broad constitutional reform was being discussed, Xenopol, together with other feminists, approached Ioan Al. Brătescu-Voineşti (a prominent writer and Member of Parliament) with a petition requesting women’s enfranchisement , at least for local elections. The petition, along with other liberal–democratic proposals for land reform, was not taken seriously—in part due to the outbreak of World War I. During the war, Xenopol continued to publish on feminism in the journal Viitorul româncelor (The future of Romanian women). She spoke against conquest through war and in favor of democratic republicanism and equal rights for all citizens, which in her view were the only means of achieving peace. Yet, like many other liberal feminists , she also supported Romanian participation in the war to “free their [Romanian] brethren from oppression,” a reference to Romanians in the Habsburg Empire (Xenopol 1914). In spite of her nationalism however, Xenopol maintained a critical feminist position throughout the war, opposing the Romanian government’s unwillingness to enfranchise women. In 1925, Xenopol founded the Societatea Scriitoarelor Române (Society of Romanian Women Writers) as a way of encouraging more female writers to publish their work. The society published the Revista scriitoarei (The woman writer’s magazine), dedicated to “cultural–artistic events that aim to showcase Romanian women’s talent or genius” (Revista scriitoarei, 9). The...


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