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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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8,154100384 (4.12)412
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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I've finally read a book by Virginia Woolf and it was a sheer joy. A Room Of One's Own is a novel length essay that was originally given as a series of lectures to women at Cambridge University in 1928. The theme was 'women and fiction' and Woolf examines women writers in history, their various successes and failures and themes of gender inequality and education. A Room Of One's Own is a feminist text and still very much relevant today.

Woolf concludes that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction," and sets out to prove why. What added to my enjoyment is that I couldn't help but read it in her voice thanks to my frequent listening of the only recording of Virginia Woolf's voice available on YouTube.

I was instantly gripped by her writing style on page 1, but reading the following description of a dinner on page 18 had me laughing and wishing I could be in her presence.
"Prunes and custard followed. And if anyone complains that prunes, even when mitigated by custard, are an uncharitable vegetable (fruit they are not), stringy as a miser's heart and exuding a fluid such as might run in misers' veins who have denied themselves wine and warmth for eighty years and yet not given to the poor, he should reflect that there are people whose charity embraces even the prune. Biscuits and cheese came next, and here the water-jug was liberally passed round, for it is the nature of biscuits to be dry, and these were biscuits to the core. That was all." Page 18

Towards the end of her essay (remember it was a lecture given at a women's college) she calls on members of her audience.
“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.” Page 103

On page 106, she proclaims to give her peroration (don't worry, I had to look it up too): "Young women, I would say, and please attend, for the peroration is beginning, you are, in my opinion, disgracefully ignorant. You have never made a discovery of any sort of importance. You have never shaken an empire or led an army into battle. The plays of Shakespeare are not by you, and you have never introduced a barbarous race to the blessings of civilization. What is your excuse?"

Woolf's writing is provocative and powerful and I enjoyed the ready access to her meandering thought processes as well as the ups and downs of her discoveries, statements and opinions.

Reading her work almost 90 years after Virginia Woolf penned these words, I had the distinct feeling she was giving me a TED Talk about women and fiction. The TED Talk format is enormously popular - and a favourite of mine, I'll confess - and I'm certain that if A Room Of One's Own was marketed as a TED Talk it would reach and inspire an entirely new audience.

Highly recommended. ( )
  Carpe_Librum | May 18, 2017 |
I felt the book covered as much about men as it did women. Woolf was such a widely read author that almost every page had me wanting to pick up another work mentioned. I am still wondering though could the room of one's own be oneself and the strength of character, pride and sense of self be the 500 pounds? ( )
  mmoj | Mar 2, 2017 |
I have been questioning much in my life lately with particular guilt about how much I have let both myself and my sex and my children down, given the opportunities that I have had. I have parents who throughout my childhood have actively encouraged me to get a good education and who have nutured and supported me to achieve my best and I squandered it. I have worked in life and had some great jobs but right now I am completely dependant on my husband for a living - shame on me!!!! I am time rich - I have loads of time. Every day I am dripping in time and I waste it on Candy Crush Saga and yet I am so terrified that there is hardly any time left at all - what a travesty!!!!!

I read A Room of One's Own in two sessions - I could not sleep after the first session as my mind was already racing.

After completing the essay this evening I am compelled to write down my thoughts in this review.

So firstly, Virginia Wolf got me thinking, her essay made me look at myself and my responsibility not only as a woman but as a human being.

What I take from what she writes in her argument is that historically women have been denied opportunities such as education, freedom of movement etc and as a result they have in general been unable to achieve in the same way as men - eg academically or vocationally but in 1928 those opportunities are improving for women and so women can no longer hide in excuses so long as they are well off, which I believe is the second point she is making in so much as it doesn't matter whether you are male or female you still need to have money to write.

I think it goes further and really it is also about respect. Not about men having respect for women but about us all having respect for ourselves as human beings and respect for each other. Let's stop blaming men and just embrace who we are men or women we all count. There will always be exceptions to any rule but basically at the end of the day it comes down to this. Stop making excuses and blaming others and just do it - whatever it is JUST DO IT because nowadays anything is possible by anyone. (so long as you have your freedom, have access to education and can afford to live )

This is what I took from the essay on first reading - oh and there is something about lesbianism in it too. ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Feb 25, 2017 |
Virginia Woolf essays speak the truth about Women and writing fiction. A true feminist. ( )
  caanderson | Dec 4, 2016 |
I wrote a review and published it here: http://wp.me/p382tY-DM
Check it out! ( )
  Calavari | Sep 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (75 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beeke, AnthonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bell, VanessaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradshaw, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clarke, Stuart N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Del Serra, MauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gordon, MaryForewordsecondary 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.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:46 -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)

» see all 7 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141183535, 0141018984, 0141044888, 0141198540, 0734306555

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