I’ve discovered that Mary Wollstonecraft says she wrote The Vindication of the Right of Women as a self-portrait. But what kind of portrait is this — at least, this is what I was asking myself today. There is not one “personal” detail in the vindication. She does not tell us about her cruel drunken father or her stupid romance reading mother. There’s no date of birth. No sufferings of the Wollstonecraft sisters and no oppressive big brother. Instead, there’s ideas and her feelings about these ideas. So, in MW’s mind, to know her is to know her ideas (not the details of her love affairs). But as a gossipy sort of writer, I Want to know about her affairs. And what she wore, too. But I can feel one of those windows opening, the kind that help me see into the 18th century and MW herself. To MW, it’s ideas that are self-revelatory. It’s ideas that are the most personal thing.