…they might be better understood via a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt: “conscious pariah.” The women in this book were many things—brilliant, difficult, successful, frequently wrong—but they were all outsiders. (Often literally: Arendt, Adler, and Malcolm were all immigrants.) “A conscious pariah knows she is different,” Dean writes, “and knows she may never, at least in the eyes of others, properly escape it. But she is also aware of what her individuality gives her.” (…)
Fittingly, then, it’s Hannah Arendt who succeeds most at climbing out of the shadow cast by the Dark Lady. Though Arendt would also be reproached for her lack of feeling—most sensationally, when she covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker—she does not have the thwarted quality that most of the other women in the book have. She might have been snidely dismissed by some of her male peers, but she accomplished the work she set out to do and does not seem to have been troubled greatly by the opinions of others.