Michelle Dean’s new book Sharp is dedicated to “every person who’s ever been told, ‘You’re too smart for your own good.'” The 10 iconic 20th-century women writers Dean profiles – in chapters that are part biography, part criticism, and part cultural history – were subjected to this damning praise all their lives. Nevertheless, they persisted . . . and they did it long before the phrase became a feminist rallying cry, thanks to what Dean describes as “the ability to write unforgettably in a world that was not eager to hear women’s opinions about anything.” The blades these women wielded varied; their sharpness did not. Here are five lessons from these unforgettable women.