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Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
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1,765443,990 (3.42)139
Authors:Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Other authors:Irene Reddish (Cover artist)
Info:London : The Women's Press Ltd (March 1986), Edition: 2nd UK Edition, Mass Market Paperback, 146 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:feminist sf, Science Fiction, women's press sf

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Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)


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English (40)  Finnish (2)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All (44)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
The story is told from the perspective three men discovering a land inhabited only by women for the past 2000 years. Like the best imaginative worlds, the real purpose is not to explore what the new world is, but to highlight the inequalities and contradictions of our more familiar world. In this case the main thrust is woman's role in society (in 1915, though of course much is still relevant), but also takes in politics, the keeping of animals, agriculture, living in societies, and education. Male arrogance dominates at first, but two of our male explorers have a more balanced view by the end. Whilst Herland seems a Utopia in many ways, its inhabitants are fascinated by what the rest of the world can bring for them, based on rose-tinted misunderstandings of what they are told -- the grass is always greener on the other side.

A good read with many ideas explored still current issues in much of the world. But seen as a novel, it is somewhat unsatisfactory in the lives and customs beings explained to us rather than us learning about it gradually from the actions of living there. Still well worth a read though, and short enough to take a chance on. ( )
  rrmmff2000 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Gilman was clearly ahead of her time with respect to thoughts on the role of women in society. I was especially impressed with her views on education which are remarkably in agreement with much current thought on the subject. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
An isolated land of women, an interesting idea and portrayed somewhat idealistically in this book. The male characters are really just stereotypes and the ending a little weak but an interesting enough read. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
Set in the early 20th Century, Herland is a “feminist utopian” novel about three male explorers who stumble upon a remote and isolated country that is entirely made up of women and girls. Their civilization is so far advanced (mostly in terms of culture, not technology) that the explorers can’t believe that there are no men anywhere in the society. In the year that the men stay there, they teach the women as much as they can about the outside world, and in turn, learn about life in Herland.

Gilman, while largely forgotten after her death, was quite well-known during her life. Contemporary literary scholars have recently brought many of her works back into the literay canon (her most well-known story is The Yellow Wallpaper). Gilman advocates both feminism and socialism in her writing, and both are very obvious in this novel. I think it’s the only utopian novel that I’ve read so far in which the society described actually is an ideal utopia instead of a dystopia.

While I loved The Yellow Wallpaper and thought that it was really powerful writing, I don’t think that Herland lived up to that high standard. It was relatively straightforward and simple, and the plot didn’t really go anywhere. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t great. I do, however, think it’s worth reading for it’s historical value alone. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Herland was a curious read. Perhaps if you're making a study of feminist literature over the past 100 years it might be something worth reading. As something fun to read, I'd say don't bother. Part treatise for Charlotte Perkins Gilman's vision for a feminist utopia, where for various reasons men no longer exist and women have evolved to reproduce by parthenogenesis, and part Boy's Own Adventure with a bizarre fixation on the usefulness of garments with many pockets, I was bored by most of it. I didn't share Gilman's ideal, particularly not one where there exists a form of eugenics that prevents those deemed 'unfit' from bearing children or, if they are permitted to reproduce, from raising their offspring in order to prevent their 'unfit' traits being normalised. In some ways the writing was quite clumsy and I had to remind myself of when it was written, how different women's lives were 100 years ago, and the broader point Gilman was trying to hammer home. In other ways, it was clever - the switch in perspective so that the three adventuring men who try to enter the matriarchal society have a similar experience to that of the women trying to break down the gender barriers of American patriarchal society at the time Gilman was writing, and the way they become increasingly fixed on their appearance as a way of asserting their masculinity, having been robbed, as they see it, of their natural male authority. Gilman did a reasonable job of inhabiting the minds of the male characters, even if they were a little broadly sketched. Terry is utterly unlikeable, a misogynist pig of the highest order. Van, the narrator, is a social scientist and therefore tries to approach everything rationally. Jeff is the eager to please, optimistic one, always looking for the good in everything, always trying to give people what he thinks they want. The men are like something out of a Ripping Yarn, though, and I wonder whether Gilman tried to create male characters that men would want to read, in the hope that her allegorical tale would then open their eyes to the lot of women. Some things left a bad taste - the eugenics I've mentioned, but also the attitude to people of different racial heritage, all described as savages, all portrayed as simple and child-like. I read up on Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Yeah. Bit of a white supremacist. It both horrifies and confuses me that people who see themselves as a minority in terms of gender or sexuality can still view the colour of their skin as a symbol of superiority. Even setting those misgivings aside, the book was preachy, blinkered and not to my taste. I am a feminist. I believe that all humans are equal and therefore women should have equal rights and equal access to the same opportunities in life as men, and should be judged on ability and not on looks or some twisted idea of what is or isn't feminine behaviour. I think Gilman believed that, too. Where she loses me in this book is in advocating for a world where equality is achieved by eliminating everyone who doesn't fit a central idea of perfection. ( )
1 vote missizicks | Dec 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Charlotte Perkins Gilmans Sozialutopie "Herland" ist ein reines Lehrstück. Die Figuren sind nicht plastisch gezeichnet, auch die Umgebung bleibt seltsam farblos. Es geht der Autorin offensichtlich vor allem darum, aufzuzeigen, welche Möglichkeiten in der weiblichen Hälfte der Menschheit stecken. Deshalb bleibt eine schwarz/weiß, gut/böse Einteilung nicht aus.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charlotte Perkins Gilmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lane, Ann J.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman is not ordinarily thought of as a humorist, but her feminist utopia, Herland, is a very funny book.
This is written from memory, unfortunately.
We were not in the least "advanced" on the woman question, any of us, then.
They were inconveniently reasonable, those women.
They said: "With our best endeavors this country will support about so many people, with the standard of peace, comfort, health, beauty, and progress we demand. Very well. That is all the people we will make."
You see, they were Mothers, not in our sense of helpless involuntary fecundity, forced to fill and overfill the land, every land, and then see their children suffer, sin, and die, fighting horribly with one another; but in the sense of Conscious Makers of People.
We are used to seeing what we call "a mother" completely wrapped up in her own pink bundle of fascinating babyhood, and taking but the faintest theoretic interest in anybody else's bundle, to say nothing of the common needs of all the bundles. But these women were working all together at the grandest of tasks -- they were Making People -- and they made them well.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394736656, Paperback)

On the eve of World War I, an all-female society is discovered somewhere in the distant reaches of the earth by three male explorers who are now forced to re-examine their assumptions about women's roles in society.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:21 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

One the eve of WWI, three American male explorers stumble onto an all-female society somewhere in the distant reaches of the earth. Unable to believe their eyes, they promptly set out to find some men, convinced that since this is a civilized country--there must be men. So begins this sparkling utopian novel, a romp through a whole world "masculine" and "feminine", as on target today as when it was written 65 years ago.… (more)

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