Rich’s body of work establishes, among other things, an intellectual autobiography, which is interesting not as the narrative of one life (which it’s not) and still less as intimate divulgence, but as the evolution and revolutions of an exceptional mind, with all its curiosity, outreaching, exasperation and even its errors. (I don’t know why, in 1968, she thought Montaigne should “rot in hell.” He was, like her, not unfamiliar with intellectuals under house arrest or worse.) Even while Rich was most insistent (and I, her reader, insistent with her) on her particularity as a woman, and an American woman, and on the historical overdetermination of women’s experiences and supposed limitations, she was insisting as well, perhaps less intentionally, and the more successfully for that, that a woman’s intellectual/political/aesthetic development could provide the emblematic narrative for a generation. Could, like the richly referenced self-examinations of, yes, Montaigne, also provide that emblematic narrative for generations to come. It may be difficult in 2006 to realize how revolutionary such an intellectual stance was thirty years ago.