Encyclopedias are usually made by committees; the orthodox mode of feminist writing is collective. In daring to compile an Encyclopedia of Feminism Lisa Tuttle could be said to have rushed in where angels fear to tread, but the result is much happier than might have been expected. Her post-bag will doubtless carry the furious denunciations that militant women reserve for their comrades in the struggle; after all she has included male supporters of the feminist cause, concentrated too much on Anglo-Saxon feminism, and left out any mention of latter-day feminism in the Second and Third Worlds, even Australia. There are no references to feminist movements by countries, which would have proved useful to feminists in search of contacts, and no apparatus to show where more detailed information might be found, except for a rather selective bibliography at the end. Many of the non-Anglo-Saxon biographical entries are too obviously indebted to encyclopedias of women published in the first decade of the century hut neither the Enciclopedia delle Donne nor L’Encyclopedie des Femmes is cited in the bibliography. There are the usual little lapses, Mary Manley’s name is not Mary but Delariviere, George Gissing’s extraordinary feminist novel Odd Women is not mentioned and so on. Doubtless Tuttle’s post-bag will contain both good-natured and ill-natured corrections of hundreds such.
It may be too much to hope that Tuttle will also get some positive feedback. The Encyclopedia is a remarkable distillation of tons of data, much of it all but readable in the original. Tuttle writes with clarity and good humour, even, and this most riskily, with irony. To read