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A Room of One's Own Hardcover – November 7, 1991
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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 ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Steven H Propp
Great read. have been putting it off for years but enjoyed!Published 21 days ago by Martin W.Friendship
Any book written by this well-known writer can and must be approached with a certain trepidation. Her articulate prose weaves compelling scenarios in which the reader becomes... Read morePublished 26 days ago by sistina
If I was not reading it for my book discussion group I would have thrown it in the trash!Published 2 months ago by John D. Colbath
A brilliant essay brimming with intellect as it explores women and writing and sexism in her generation. Every lover of literature and books should read this.Published 2 months ago by Noovella