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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 2024)

by Virginia Woolf (Author)

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12,514168513 (4.12)2 / 582
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.
Member:gincybinny
Title:A Room of One's Own
Authors:Virginia Woolf (Author)
Info:Penguin Select classics (2024)
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A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)

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Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
I believe one should read this very short book before proceeding with any pre-20th century women's fiction. Virginia Woolf describes in a captivating manner how it was significantly different to be able to sit and write as a woman of those older centuries, than it was as a man. Even the "greats" like George Elliot, Charlotte or Emily Bronte, did not write unimpeded, the way Shakespeare or Tolstoy did -her comparisons, not mine-
“…the overflow of George Elliot’s capacious mind should have spread itself, when the creative impulse was spent, upon history or biography. They (Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte and George Elliot) wrote novels however.”
Because even having a room of one’s own to use as writing ground, was inconceivable. And even when a written work was completed, by Emily, George, or Charlotte, a big if given all the daily interruptions a woman would encounter, the amount of times she would hide her manuscripts from the eyes of others so as not to be judged or prevented from continuing her work, even then, she could not openly publish it and earn what she rightly deserved. Instead of praise she would expect public shaming and judgement, if the audience found out the work was penned by a "she".
All this is general knowledge to us now, but it does sit comfortably and permanently in the mind when read through the words of Virginia Woolf. Virginia a woman who, as she herself acknowledges in ‘A Room of One’s Own’, was also helped by fortunate circumstances to be able to write unimpeded in her lifetime – even if she was simultaneously hindered other factors not discussed in this essay. It is important to have this backdrop in mind when reading women's fiction, because according to her it is not a mere contextual detail, but a central and pervasive aspect of their works. Not that knowing it should alter our appreciation of them, or of any venerated work written by men. ( )
  Louisasbookclub | Jun 30, 2024 |
Amazed that I didn't read this earlier. My copy looks like I've had it since high school and that well may be true. Extant for almost 100 years, Woolf's signature ironic and wry skills heralding the need for a room with a locked door and an income is a classic. As is the tragic old ballad about Mary, Queen of Scots:
Yest're'en the Queen had fower Marys
The nicht she'll hae but three
There was Mary Seton and Mary Beaton,
And Mary Carmichael and me
Woolf cleverly uses her narrator Mrs. Beton or Mrs. Seton to espouse her revolutionary ideas for women artists as the reader is escorted through colleges, libraries and dining halls (banished from some, welcomed in others) and wraps up with another of the old ballad's namesake's, Mary Carmichael, as example of a woman author, all showcasing the centuries of difficulties women have had to endure to be creative. "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'..." I was surprised at how prescient the book is and once again, I mean to read more of her work. ( )
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
I hated this stream of conscience nonsense. I also had to read it in 10th grade, so maybe I wasn't in a great mindset to appreciate it. Fun fact: the essay for this was the only big assignment I've ever flat out refused to do. ( )
  Jenniferforjoy | Jan 29, 2024 |
I have so many thoughts and mixed feelings about this essay. While I don't think stream of consciousness is really my thing when it comes to preferred reading; I find myself writing this way often, so I've come to understand a couple things. Firstly, when one is writing in this sort of way, one tends to contradict oneself. Secondly, the reader is required to pay a good amount of attention a good deal of the time---and that can be difficult.

If Woolf is allowed to write in such an eruption of thoughts, I will feel free to respond in kind.

Concerning the "Feminism" of this piece: I believe that if today’s feminists read the whole thing, instead of a few snippets in a college anthology, they’d find that Woolf is not necessarily pleading their case here. Her narrator might be a sort of whiny entitled one at times, but I think Woolf's point of view is clear at the end. While she lays out a good case for the difficulties formerly faced by women writers, and points out how there's still work to be done, she also lists quite a few reforms that have been made since long before her audience came of age. She’s not complaining about the lack of opportunity for women so much as she’s upset about the lack of women taking the opportunity.

What constitutes opportunity is a matter of opinion. Some say the opportunity lies in the freedom a childless, single woman has to do what she wants with her time---in this case, writing; while others say opportunity is being taken care of by a doting husband while raising a family. I’ve been blessed with both a doting husband/family and the freedom to do what I want with my time.

I do have means and a room of my own---this book stirs in me the feeling of obligation to make more use of it for the sake of all the other women who didn’t and don't.

In today's society, I don't think our options are either singleness and freedom or being strapped to a family schedule. There’s a third option: marry a man who values your brain, creativity, and time. Train your children to respect your creative time and, better yet, make some of their own. A large amount of children are not the problem. Mismanaged time, selfish husbands, lousy parenting, these might be the problem. So ladies, choose wisely. When my husband is off work, he occupies the children so I can write or film. He values my mind, ministry, and interests. I value them, too, and I'm not afraid to make my needs known. Women of a century ago may not have had this choice, but the women of today do and using this essay as a rant for today is silly, entitled, and difficult to take seriously.

She alluded to men who go to the office at ten and come home at half past four to do what they want. This is not impossible, ladies. Train your children! Establish a schedule! Take control over your time so you can do this too. Obviously these men “trained” those around them---do the same!

In Woolf’s day it may have been a lack of opportunity, but today it's apathy. But, maybe then too.
Without thinkers like Woolf, both men and women, we wouldn’t have opportunities now. But one must have the desire and see the value to think those thoughts. Some didn’t fight then because they didn’t care. Some don’t utilize opportunities now because they have other opportunities to care about. The more time I spend on eternal things, the less I care about these “scholarly” things that once seemed so important to me. Still, the need for quiet writing time is one I struggle to suppress. The guilt of taking time from my family battles with the guilt of taking time from myself, no matter how well trained anyone is.

In my opinion, writing (or any other creative pursuit) is a privilege to be enjoyed after your work is done. If you are provided for, you probably have children to care for. If you provide for yourself, you must do that work first. Who provided for Virginia Woolf? It sounds like she and her husband worked together on their publishing company and didn’t make a whole lot of money. She might have been "poor" in her own eyes, but the woman literally had her own writing cottage. Please.

I think if you want to write, you make time to write. No excuses. Woolf mentions Jane Austen several times. Jane Austen had neither 500 pounds a year nor a room of her own to write in. She wrote at a lap desk in her family's sitting room and listened for the creaking door to alert her to hide what she was working on.

Rather than some kind of amazing bit of, "let's free women" literature, I see this more as, “114 pages of excuses concerning why I can’t write today." A writer writes for herself, regardless of where that piece of writing ends up after she's completed it.

Still, if one wants to make money off it nowadays, there are no excuses. I'm a homeschooling mother of nine and have made good money off my writing when I desired to. I have several friends who are doing the same.

While I'm annoyed with modern young college women who read this and somehow feel they relate with Mary Beton/Seton/Carmichael, I feel like I want to read this once a year to try to be more relatable to women who do not have the opportunities that I and they do.

Favorite quote: “It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.” ( )
  classyhomemaker | Dec 11, 2023 |
ostensibly a disquisition on function of anger (corrupting) in art.
"Shakespeare has consumed all impediments and become incandescent." And therefore nothing is known of him (my paraphrase)
dubious line of argument, particularly with respect to the construction of modern works (albeit the critique does occasionally ring true). Really this is a superior Portrait of the Artist in the vein that one compares Lighthouse to Ulysses.

Amusing to note Kipling is dated even in her time:
"One blushes at all these capital letters as if one had been caught eavesdropping at some purely masculine orgy."

( )
  Joe.Olipo | Sep 19, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
Pourquoi "Une chambre à soi" de Virginia Woolf reste d’actualité ?
Une chambre à soi, essai de Virginie Woolf paru en 1929, fait partie des ouvrages incontournables de l’histoire du féminisme. Une oeuvre dont les conclusions restent en 2016 très actuelles.
 

» Add other authors (118 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aspesi, NataliaIntroductionsecondary authorsome 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
John, AugustusCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearson, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simonsuuri, KirstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stadtlander, BeccaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary 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.
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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.
[Foreword (HBJ edition)] Virginia Woolf foresaw with clarity the responses to A Room of One's Own.
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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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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.

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