Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Room of One's Own

I started reading Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own
last night via Kindle and I'm not sure what to make of it. I read The Waves in college forever ago, and no Woolf since. All I knew about A Room of One's Own when I started it was that it was a seminal work for women, for authors/artists/thinkers/scholars, and for women authors/artists/thinkers/scholars.

I've read Part I and I'm feeling a bit stupid. Maybe it's too early to blog on it, but simplistically it seems to be an extended metaphor about women being invited to the table and not being relagated to merely being part of the side show or kitchen help.

On the one hand, I like and understand the notion that women are as capable of men and that genius and the artistic and creative impulse is not gender specific. On the other hand, it seems like it would be easy to use lack of opportunity (i.e., not physically or emotionally having a room of one's own) as excuse for not doing the work required to actually produce something. At some level, it comes down to how badly you want or need to create music, fiction, etc. On another level, I have no patience for those who have decided to become parents and then bail because they need to "find themselves."

Wonder if reading Part 2 will dampen this holier-than-thou reaction to Part 1. I hope so. This is one of those books I would like to like.


  1. I read this essay when I was at university and I remember I liked it. Now I usually read "Shakespeare's sister" passage from it to my students and they usually find it quite interesting. Maybe you're not so much in the topic. Many things have changed , fortunately, since Virginia Woolf's time. She is so original in advocating the cause of women's civil rights. I'm sorry you are so disappointed, Jane.

  2. I liked part 2 much more than part 1. But more on that later :)

    I have read a lot of feminist writings so it's hard to put myself into the historical context in which this was written, but I can...and I do appreciate what Woolf was saying.

  3. I love this book. I was introduced to it by the author David Lodge, who was also a lecturer at my University. I think you have to take account of the original context in which this was given. The young women in the audience would have had to fight to be there in a way that we now find very difficult to understand. I hope you get more out of the latter parts