On Saturday, February 17, 1940, Goldman suffered a debilitating stroke. She became paralyzed on her right side, and although her hearing was unaffected, she could not speak. As one friend described it: "Just to think that here was Emma, the greatest orator in America, unable to utter one word." For three months she improved slightly, receiving visitors and on one occasion gesturing to her address book to signal that a friend might find friendly contacts during a trip to . She suffered another stroke on May 8, however, and on May 14 she died in , aged 70.
When Emma was a young girl, the Goldman family moved to the village of , where her father ran an inn. While her sisters worked, she became friends with a servant named Petrushka, who excited her "first erotic sensations". Later in Papilė she witnessed a peasant being whipped with a in the street. This event traumatized her and contributed to her lifelong distaste for violent authority.
Taube's second by her family and, as Goldman puts it, "mismated from the first". Her second husband, Abraham Goldman, invested Taube's inheritance in a business that quickly failed. The ensuing hardship combined with the emotional distance of husband and wife to make the household a tense place for the children. When Taube became pregnant, Abraham hoped desperately for a son; a daughter, he believed, would serve as one more sign of failure. They eventually had three sons, but their first child was Emma.
Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Russia, Goldman emigrated to the US in 1885 and lived in New York City, where she became a writer and a renowned lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women's rights, and social issues, attracting crowds of thousands. Goldman was imprisoned several times for "inciting to riot" and illegally distributing information about birth control. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth. In 1910, she collected a series of speeches and items she had written for Mother Earth and published . In addition to a comprehensive look at anarchism and its criticisms, the book includes essays on patriotism, women's suffrage, marriage, and prisons. (summary extracted from wikipedia)
The text is from my copy of Emma Goldman's Anarchism and Other Essays
Emma Goldman was born of Jewish parentage on the 27th day of June, 1869, in the Russian province of Kovno. Surely these parents never dreamed what unique position their child would some day occupy. Like all conservative parents they, too, were quite convinced that their daughter would marry a respectable citizen, bear him children, and round out her allotted years surrounded by a flock of grandchildren, a good, religious woman. As most parents, they had no inkling what a strange, impassioned spirit would take hold of the soul of their child, and carry it to the heights which separate generations in eternal struggle. They lived in a land and at a time when antagonism between parent and offspring was fated to find its most acute expression, irreconcilable hostility. In this tremendous struggle between fathers and sons — and especially between parents and daughters — there was no compromise, no weak yielding, no truce. The spirit of liberty, of progress — an idealism which knew no considerations and recognized no obstacles — drove the young generation out of the parental house and away from the hearth of the home. Just as this same spirit once drove out the revolutionary breeder of discontent, Jesus, and alienated him from his native traditions.
Emma Goldman: Anarchism and Other Essays « Attack …
The first years of her childhood Emma Goldman passed in a small, idyllic place in the German-Russian province of Kurland, where her father had charge of the government stage. At that time Kurland was thoroughly German; even the Russian bureaucracy of that Baltic province was recruited mostly from German Junker. German fairy tales and stories, rich in the miraculous deeds of the heroic knights of Kurland, wove their spell over the youthful mind. But the beautiful idyl was of short duration. Soon the soul of the growing child was overcast by the dark shadows of life. Already in her tenderest youth the seeds of rebellion and unrelenting hatred of oppression were to be planted in the heart of Emma Goldman. Early she learned to know the beauty of the State: she saw her father harassed by the Christian chinovniks and doubly persecuted as petty official and hated Jew. The brutality of forced conscription ever stood before her eyes: she beheld the young men, often the sole support of a large family, brutally dragged to the barracks to lead the miserable life of a soldier. She heard the weeping of the poor peasant women, and witnessed the shameful scenes of official venality which relieved the rich from military service at the expense of the poor. She was outraged by the terrible treatment to which the female servants were subjected: maltreated and exploited by theirbarinyas, they fell to the tender mercies of the regimental officers, who regarded them as their natural sexual prey. These girls, made pregnant by respectable gentlemen and driven out by their mistresses, often found refuge in the Goldman home. And the little girl, her heart palpitating with sympathy, would abstract coins from the parental drawer to clandestinely press the money into the hands of the unfortunate women. Thus Emma Goldman’s most striking characteristic, her sympathy with the underdog, already became manifest in these early years.
It was an eventful period — the year of 1882 — in which Emma Goldman, then in her 13th year, arrived in St. Petersburg. A struggle for life and death between the autocracy and the Russian intellectuals swept the country. Alexander II. had fallen the previous year. Sophia Perovskaia, Zheliabov, Grinevitzky, Rissakov, Kibalchitch, Michailov, the heroic executors of the death sentence upon the tyrant, had then entered the Walhalla of immortality. Jessie Helfman, the only regicide whose life the government had reluctantly spared because of pregnancy, followed the unnumbered Russian martyrs to the étapes of Siberia. It was the most heroic period in the great battle of emancipation, a battle for freedom such as the world had never witnessed before. The names of the Nihilist martyrs were on all lips, and thousands were enthusiastic to follow their example. The whole intelligensia of Russia was filled with theillegal spirit: revolutionary sentiments penetrated into every home, from mansion to hovel, impregnating the military, the chinovniks, factory workers, and peasants. The atmosphere pierced the very casemates of the royal palace. New ideas germinated in the youth. The difference of sex was forgotten. Shoulder to shoulder fought the men and the women. The Russian woman! Who shall ever do justice or adequately portray her heroism and self-sacrifice, her loyalty and devotion? Holy, Turgeniev calls her in his great prose poem, On the Threshold.
Anarchism, and other essays, by Emma Goldman - Adelaide
Emma Goldman was a devastatingly honest woman, who spared herself as little as she spared anyone else. From her account the reader can gain insight into a curious personality type of recurrent interest: a woman who devoted her life to eliminating suffering, yet could make a bomb or assist in staging an assassination. Equally interesting are her comments on other radicals of the period, such as Kropotkin, Berkman, Mooney, Lenin, Trotsky, Haywood, Most, the Haymarket martyrs, and many others. Her autobiography, written with vigor, ranks among the finest in the English language.