Friday, February 16, 2018

Woolf, Virginia (A Room of One's Own)

For some odd reason, I had conflated this essay / lecture with a story by Doris Lessing called "To Room Nineteen". (C'mon, can you blame me??) So, when I recommended that book club read it, I was actually recommending a wholeheartedly different approach to the conundrum of women and writing.

In the end, I'm glad I read Woolf's essay. As far as I know, this is an expanded version of the lecture that she gave to a group of women at Cambridge, back in the 1920s. I mean, really, can you imagine sitting for 113 pages of text, no matter how enthralling the topic? (Heck, maybe they did that back in the day. Fewer movies to watch?) The expansion allows Woolf to truly develop her theme of "men suck".

I kid, for the most part. While there is a fair amount of that palaver, in language only Woolf could get right, the main point that Woolf makes is about having enough money in life to write, which may in fact be a gender-free theme. Even in this day and age, writers go through all types of shenanigans to get enough dough to set aside time to write - and have a room of one's own to do it in. Perhaps it's still easier for men to do that, but I'm not convinced. Certainly, at the time of Woolf's writing, it was worth talking specifically about women's difficulties in this area.

I also very much appreciated her appreciation of Jane Austen as an amazing and heroic writer. I mused to my book club on why Austen has remained popular over such a long, long span of years, and we couldn't really come up with an answer, with Woolf's thesis in mind.

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