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

by Virginia Woolf

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37. A Room of One's Own (audio) by Virginia Woolf
reader: Juliet Stevenson
published: 1929, 2011 audio
format: 5:02 Libby audiobook
acquired: Library
listened: Jun 20-26
rating: 5

includes four short stories: Monday or Tuesday, A Haunted House, Kew Gardens, The New Dress

I think I'm supposed to say something about feminism after reading this, but while I was listening I was too distracted by the way Woolf writes (and the way Juliet Stevenson reads her) to really be thinking about her points. Woolf is a wonderful stylist, who stands apart on many levels from anything written today. Clever, formally structured, elegant, but also everything is designed to bring in the reader's interest, give a universal perspective, and provide a sense of lingual precision. This is my first time reading her, I was kind of in awe at just listening to how she says what she says.

She is writing about women and fiction, but really about sexism in general, and what this has meant for women then (1928) and throughout history. At one point she explains that she looked through all the books on women, all written by men, and she feels they can offer her nothing because instead of careful unbiased analysis, these books are all, everyone, pervaded by anger. She has to turn elsewhere, a point that really stuck with me. As for the rest, it was all true, all frustrating, all good to read, but also all stuff I felt we all already know and (at least in our little community here) pretty much all fully agree with. You can read this for 1928 feminism, but my recommendation would be read this to read Woolf in essay form, and be rewarded with literary critiques of the Brontës and Jane Austen, or the impact of WWI on humanity, and also with her views on feminism.

...

Despite the cover Libby uses, I didn't get the Ali Smith introduction, but instead did get four short stories. The New Dress was my favorite and I'll have it in mind when I get to Mrs Dalloway, one of these days. ( )
  dchaikin | Jul 4, 2018 |
I loved this book. Her ideas about women are eloquently and expertly written. While I struggled to understand/follow some of it, I made up for it by reading some analyses of the text as I went along so I didn't miss anything.

Virginia Woolf is a woman beyond her time. The central idea in the essay is: "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. That is women need financial freedom and personal, uninterrupted space to be able to write good fiction.

She stresses the importance of having a stable income. “It is remarkable, remembering the bitterness of those days, what a change of temper a fixed income will bring about. No force in the world can take from me my five hundred pounds. Food, house, and clothing are mine forever. Therefore not merely do effort and labour cease, but also hatred and bitterness. I need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me.”

She explores differences between men and women, and how that impacts what is important. “And since a novel has this correspondence to real life, its values are to some extent those of real life. But it is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex; naturally this is so. Yet is it 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.”

One of the funniest lines, in my opinion, was “I should need to be a herd of elephants, I thought, and a wilderness of spiders, desperately referring to the animals that are reputed longest lived and most multitudinously eyed, to cope with all of this”. Referring to vast collection of works written by men about women.

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in feminist literature and the history of women. ( )
1 vote carmacreator | Jun 13, 2018 |
extended essays about women in writing and feminism in general ( )
  margaretfield | May 30, 2018 |
Virginia Woolf convinced me more of her Englishness than her feminism. Of course, here I am 100 years into the future so don't listen to me. I have not been refused enrollment into universities and turned away from libraries ect. ect. ect. for being a woman. I am enjoying a hard-fought personal ignorance of all that bullshit. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
I know I am SUPPOSED to love this but I mostly just mostly liked it. ( )
  Kim_Sasso | Mar 14, 2018 |
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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.
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 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.

» see all 9 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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