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Three Guineas (Annotated) Paperback – July 3, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
This work's mportance is immense; it is a 1938 update of and response to Mary Wollstonecraft's A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN (1792).. If you find the reading difficult at first, read it aloud to yourself until you get a sense of Woolf's style and voice. This is a sequel to A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN, much more potent than that canonized work.
Woolf received requests for three guineas from a women's college, from a society for promoting professional women and finally from a group requesting the prevention of war. This essay is Woolf's answer to those requests. While it is extraordinarily cumbersome to read the bottom line suggests that a society which promotes only one aspect of itself and suffocates anything else will never be advanced enough to protect its own culture and intellect from revolutions and wars. And because the idea of fighting rests in the very aspect so highly promoted (male dominated society) all of the laws and practices contain this strife and will until other parts of society are allowed a fair voice. The interesting concept is how little society has advanced from this original idea and the strife continues to be a factor today. Woolf suggests war exists as a profession and an act that offers "happiness and excitement" for the very society it falls under. In fact she goes as far to suggest that men would deteriorate without the outlet of war to contend with. Woolf discusses patriotism as a purely male act because of the fact that women simply cannot be patriots in a culture that suffocates their voices and refuses to educate them (remember this is 1938). The disturbing thought is that women are now able to vote, work and fight in wars but our culture remains basically the same with white males in domination. How slow we are to advance!
Virginia Woolf believed that war could only be prevented through an educational system that stopped the glamorization of it and instead taught the inhumanity of the act.Read more ›
Here are some quotations from the book:
"Our class is the weakest of all the classes in the state. We have no weapon with which to enforce our will." (Pg. 13)
"...our new weapon, the influence which the educated man's daughter can exert now that she is able to earn her own living." (Pg. 17)
"...in the present state of things the most effective way in which we can help you through education to prevent war is to subscribe as generously as possible to the colleges for the daughters of educated men." (Pg. 37)
"The questions that we have to ask and to answer about that procession during this moment of transition are so important they they may well change the lives of all men and women for ever. For we have to ask ourselves, here and now, do we wish to join that procession? Above all, where is it leading us, the procession of educated men?" (Pg. 62)
"She will find that she has no good reason to ask her brother to fight on her behalf to protect 'our' country. 'Our country,' she will say, 'throughout the greater part of our history has treated me as a slave; it has denied me an education or any share in its possessions.'" (Pg. 108)
"...we can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods. We can best help you to prevent war not by joining your society but by remaining outside your society but in co-operation with your aim." (Pg. 143)
In Three Guineas, Woolf discusses three letters, each requesting a donation of a guinea, one from a society seeking to prevent war, one from a society promoting the employment of professional women and one from the building fund of a women's college. All worthy goals, and anyone else might have been satisfied to send them each a guinea and be done with it. Woolf, on the other hand, uses these three requests to launch a discussion about women's role in society and the effect that educated, professional women can and should have on it.
As in A Room of One's Own, some of what Woolf says is obvious or outdated. What's staggering, however, is how many of her observations remain fresh and relevant. Even more staggering is how accurately she predicts the changes that have taken place since society began making a real place for women - changes in society, but also changes in women. Although I knew much of what Woolf was saying, I doubt that I had ever seen these thoughts so clearly and intelligently formulated. As an added bonus, Three Guineas provides a brief but fascinating glimpse into the history of the suffrage movement (and its opposition) in England.
It is easy to guess Three Guineas' flaws. It is too long, too detailed, and ultimately not as revelatory and exciting as A Room of One's Own. It is, however, important to anyone interested in thinking about women's place in society, and the affect that each has on the other. Along with A Room of One's Own, it should be required reading for young women who (like myself) take their rights and freedom for granted.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
DO we live in a fascist society now?
DO we have institutions built into our society that promote competition and exclusion?
Is feminism still necessary? Read more
This pertains only to the Kindle edition of Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf (ASIN: B004TC0GRC) and not to the book itself or the related print edition. Read morePublished on November 7, 2013 by T. Walsh
This title forms the basis for any other feminist tract that's ever been written since. This book-length essay is simply exceptional, and is very very powerful.Published on December 30, 2012 by New to Amazon
Everyone reads A room of one's own. Don't miss this one. On the eve of fascism. She's both a feminist and a critic of feminism. A curious insight into the interwar periodPublished on December 13, 2012 by Ellen C. Dubois
I ordered this book and had it quickly. Not only that, but the book was in perfect condition! It was wonderful and better than expected!Published on November 26, 2012 by Demi Wilkerson
Virginia Woolf wrote "Three Guineas" because of the wide spread response to "A Room of One's Own." The tone is quite different, though the glittering prose is the same. Read morePublished on April 11, 2012 by Amazon Customer