Here I am, doing what I said I wasn't going to do--writing daily entries. But I did add that I would use this blog primarily to announce new discoveries--to create a track record, if not for any active readers.
So this morning, on Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for having found a piece of evidence which proves that Margaret Fuller was not writing the asterisk-signed reviews for the New York "Tribune" in 1846. I just finished about three hours of work, inserting this new discovery into my sequel. I'm not going to spend the same amount of time recreating it from scratch, here; nor do I want to simply insert the relevant passage in this blog entry. So I won't go into all the details. It's a fairly intricate thread of connecting clues, but the gist of it is, an admirer of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Unitarian minister, wrote a book which seems to be in praise of, and in defense of, Margaret Fuller. But the asterisk writer panned it. This, Fuller never would have done. Later, he seemingly retracts his reservations entirely. In the first review, he had tried to be fair; but in the second, he is made to praise it unequivocally.
This would make no sense for Fuller; while the retraction, as worded, would be unlikely for Mathew. I am guessing that Fuller, as the literary editor of the paper, actually wrote and inserted the retraction, out-of-context, into a subsequent review of another book. In any case, whatever's going on with the retraction, if this was, in fact, an entire novel written in unabashed admiration for Margaret Fuller (its title is "Margaret: A Tale of the Real and Ideal, Blight and Bloom"), by one of her associates, then the first review is entirely impossible for her. This is the second piece of evidence which strongly indicates that she did not write all of these reviews--the remainder of the evidence, taken together as a whole, strongly points to Mathew's authorship.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope yours will bring as much to be thankful for, as mine!
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
I always try to be my own hardest skeptic, and it occurred to me that there is a possible scenario in which Margaret Fuller wrote both the first critical review (in which she called the book a "heap of rubbish") and the second, apologetic comment, tacked on to a second review some three months later. The book was unsigned--if she had not realized that the author was one of her ardent admirers (and probably an acquaintance), who had written the book in glowing tribute to her, she might have panned it only to have him write a wounded protest letter to her, at which time she wrote a complete retraction. But if she had even skimmed it, she would have realized it was about her, and would never have called it a "heap of rubbish." I think Mathew, who is known to have been naive, didn't realize it was about his literary editor, and either she didn't see his review before it was published, or she didn't realize it, either. Then the author wrote his wounded letter of protest, and either Fuller prevailed on Mathew to write the retraction, or more likely (because there is precedent for it in another review), she simply added it herself, in the voice of the reviewer, without his permission. In other words, she put the words into Mathews mouth, because by this time, Jan. 1846, the rumor was afloat that she was the author. So it remains technically possible she wrote both reviews, but I think that's highly unlikely. Her ego would have been flattered the instant she began skimming through the book, if she had written the first review. (All of this aside from the other clues, and the fact that the style matches Mathew's known previous work.)
Music opening this page: "One of These Things Is Not Like the Others," from Sesame Street