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A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
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A Room of One's Own (original 1929; edition 1991)

by Virginia Woolf

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7,32177482 (4.11)371
Member:writestuff
Title:A Room of One's Own
Authors:Virginia Woolf
Info:Harcourt Brace & Company (1991), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 125 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Essays

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A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)

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English (71)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
I'm sure it was ground-breaking in its time. I am not a scholar nor a writer, though, so after the first chapter I gave up fighting her incredibly long and rambling chapters and skimmed to the end. My copy has someone's pencil highlights so I checked what had been noted, and still it meant nothing to me.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
I feel full of feminist rage now. ( )
1 vote evilmoose | Mar 4, 2015 |
Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One's Own is an extended essay on the topic of women and fiction based on some lectures that Woolf gave at a couple of women's colleges in 1928. Of course, being a novelist, Woolf’s style of writing an essay varies a great deal from the typical one. To tackle this weighty subject, she invents a woman named Mary Beton and follows in Mary’s steps for a couple of days to make observations on the historical role of women in general, how women were treated in the modern day, and glances at the literature of both women and men. Woolf is characteristically imaginative and descriptive in her prose even as she describes essentially nonfiction topics.

The main thesis of Woolf’s work is that women need the time, money, and space to become superior novelists (or writers of any sort, for that matter), and she implores women to acquire a private room of their own and a good 500 pounds a year in earnings to be able to become effective and noteworthy writers on par with their male counterparts. She also spends a great deal of time looking at past women in literature to note what contributions – whether positive or negative – these role models provide for the female writers of her day.

This book is short enough that it could easily be read in a single day or sitting if one is dedicated (and has enough uninterrupted time), but it contains so many rich thoughts and musings that it provides plenty of fodder for contemplative reading and thinking. Even though some parts are dated, this book is still sadly relevant in many ways. For instance, consider the following quote:

"Yet it is the masculine values that prevail. Speaking crudely, football and sport are 'important': the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes 'trivial.' And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room."

This is essential the same thing being said in the present day by authors like Jennifer Weiner. I definitely recommend reading this book for Woolf’s many poignant observations that cause the reader to stop and think about failings in our culture, especially when it comes to gender inequality, and about literature as a whole more critically. My feeble review is not really doing A Room of One's Own justice so I’m simply going to close it here with a quote containing one of Woolf’s later observations in the book.

"All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are ‘sides,’ and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot. As people mature they cease to believe in sides or in Headmasters or in highly ornamental pots." ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Mar 1, 2015 |
I just re-read this and I think it means more to me know that I am a father. No, I am not a father of a daughter yet. When I recently read the Autobiography of Malcolm X I thought it would be essential for me to encourage my newborn son, in years to come, to read. I have a bit of a pile- Walden Pond, Plutarch, H Rider Haggard, Malcolm X, and now I think this is absolutely essential to make sure my masculine little boy understands.

Something I want to highlight- "Literature is open to everybody. I refuse to allow you, Beadle though you are, to turn me off the grass. Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind," p. 75-76. Instead of making her feel inferior, instead of spending all of your energies pushing her down why not, dear son, spend the time and energy lifting her up? Then you can work together, then your work will be so much better.

In fact I think this might be good for a men's group. I was at a party once with some of our couple friends. We played that game, "Battle of the sexes" (I find it trite and stupid). They were so impressed with me that I knew what the reference "A room of one's own" referred to. It made me sad, this book should be common knowledge. To BOTH men and women.

Come on, people, let's stop being stupid. ( )
1 vote aegossman | Feb 25, 2015 |
I'm utterly gobsmacked (even a couple of days after finishing this) by the passion and eloquence of Woolf's prose. I also found the sheer intensity and imagination of her arguments in favor of women's equality and independence quite persuasive, especially her invention of a sister of Shakespeare who has the same talent but nowhere near the opportunities that he received. (This was particularly relevant to "Book of Ages," the Jill Lepore biography which contrasts the life of Jane Franklin with that of her famous brother Benjamin.) Some of Woolf's ideas I had a hard time grasping, such as her theory about the androgynous mind, and I disagree that women necessarily, by sole virtue of their gender, should and have to write differently (to me, this could play into the hands of the male critics she liberally quotes from, who felt women just didn't have the capacity for thinking or writing). But the general line of her essay is an inspiring call to arms. ( )
  bostonian71 | Jan 4, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beeke, AnthonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bell, VanessaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gubar, SusanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simonsuuri, KirstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valentí, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waals-Nachenius, C.E. van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This essay is based upon two papers read to the Arts Society at Newnham and the Odtaa at Girton in October 1928. The papers were too long to be read in full, and have since been altered and expanded.
Dedication
First words
But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction -- what has that got to do with a room of one's own? I will try to explain.
Quotations
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156787334, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:29 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Why is it that men, and not women, have always had power, wealth, and fame? Woolf cites the two keys to freedom: fixed income and one's own room. Foreword by Mary Gordon.

(summary from another edition)

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