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A Room of One's Own Hardcover – November 7, 1991

4.4 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Surprisingly, this long essay about society and art and sexism is one of Woolf's most accessible works. Woolf, a major modernist writer and critic, takes us on an erudite yet conversational--and completely entertaining--walk around the history of women in writing, smoothly comparing the architecture of sentences by the likes of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, all the while lampooning the chauvinistic state of university education in the England of her day. When she concluded that to achieve their full greatness as writers women will need a solid income and a privacy, Woolf pretty much invented modern feminist criticism. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

Essay by Virginia Woolf, published in 1929. The work was based on two lectures given by the author in 1928 at Newnham College and Girton College, Cambridge. Woolf addressed the status of women, and women artists in particular, in this famous essay which asserts that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write. Woolf celebrates the work of women writers, including Jane Austen, George Eliot, and the Brontes. In the final section Woolf suggests that great minds are androgynous. She argues that intellectual freedom requires financial freedom, and she entreats her audience to write not only fiction but poetry, criticism, and scholarly works as well. The essay, written in lively, graceful prose, displays the same impressive descriptive powers evident in Woolf's novels and reflects her compelling conversational style. (The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature)
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Product Details

  • Series: HBJ Modern Classic
  • Hardcover: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company; 1st edition (November 7, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151787336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151787333
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,032,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In 1928, Virginia Woolf was asked to speak on the topic of "women and fiction". The result, based upon two papers she delivered to literary societies at Newnham and Girton in October of that year, was "A Room of One's Own", an extended essay on women as both writers of fiction and as characters in fiction. And, while Woolf suggests that, "when a subject is highly controversial-and any question about sex is that-one cannot hope to tell the truth," her essay is, in fact, an extraordinarily even-handed, thoughtful and perceptive reflection on the topic.
Woolf begins with a simple and enigmatic opinion: "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unresolved." From this spare beginning, Woolf deftly explores the difference between how women had been portrayed in fiction, and how they actually lived in the world, during the preceding centuries. "A very queer, composite being emerges. Imaginatively, she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was a slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger."
The source of dissonance between how women were portrayed in fiction, and how they actually lived, was the fact that most fiction prior to the nineteenth century was written by men. As Woolf astutely points out, "[i]t was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen's day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex.
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Format: Paperback
Some of Virginia Woolf's writing is difficult for the modern reader to plough through - loooong sentences, convoluted construction, excessive naval gazing (in fictional form). But A Room of One's Own, a very long essay about feminism, independence, writing, and becoming one's own person, is actually quite readable, quite educational, and quite wonderful. The reader, at least this one, feels she's in the presence of a great mind at work as it ruminates on and on about these topics in a somewhat rambling but engaging personal reflection. Although written in 1929, the situation for women artists hasn't changed all that much, so it's far from dated.
A must-read.
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Format: Paperback
Virginia Woolf is a writer of intelligence and grace. A Room of One's Own is a skinny little treasure of a book with words and wisdom that will stay with the reader long after it is read. The essay contained in the book is the result of two papers that Ms. Woolf read to the Arts Society at newnham and Odtaa at Girton (England) in October of 1928. She was asked to speak about the topic of "Women and Fiction", and after doing so, she expanded her papers and later published them as this book.
Woolf begins the essay by writing, "I soon saw that [the subject of women and fiction] had one fatal drawback. I should never be able to come to a conclusion. I should never be able to fulfil what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer- to hand you after an hour's discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece for ever. All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point- a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction... At any rate, when a subject is highly controversial- and any question about sex is that- one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opionion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conslusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker."
It is in this straightforward and honest manner that Woolf writes about women and fiction. Although the speech was given and the book was published in 1929, all of its points are still important for women- and especially women writers and artists- today.
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Format: Paperback
In 1928, Virginia Woolf was asked to speak on the topic of "women and fiction". The result, based upon two papers she delivered to literary societies at Newnham and Girton in October of that year, was "A Room of One's Own", an extended essay on women as both writers of fiction and as characters in fiction. And, while Woolf suggests that, "when a subject is highly controversial-and any question about sex is that-one cannot hope to tell the truth," her essay is, in fact, an extraordinarily even-handed, thoughtful and perceptive reflection on the topic.
Woolf begins with a simple and enigmatic opinion: "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unresolved." From this spare beginning, Woolf deftly explores the difference between how women had been portrayed in fiction, and how they actually lived in the world, during the preceding centuries. "A very queer, composite being emerges. Imaginatively, she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was a slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger."
The source of dissonance between how women were portrayed in fiction, and how they actually lived, was the fact that most fiction prior to the nineteenth century was written by men. As Woolf astutely points out, "[i]t was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen's day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex.
Read more ›
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