Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own

A Room of One’s Own
Virginia Woolf

Introduction by Marciano Guerrero
Brief Biography        
Chapter 1 — The poverty of our sex           
Chapter 2 — England is under the rule of angry
Chapter 3 — Not indifference but hostility
Chapter 4 — The psychology of women novelists
              by a woman 
Chapter 5 — That spot the size of a shilling
              at the back of the head        
Chapter 6 — Not a wheel must grate, not a
              light glimmer."        

Introduction by Marciano Guerrero

Brief Biography

Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) was born into a privileged English household, where she was home-educated by her free-thinking parents. Apparently, like many girls of her age she had a happy childhood and adolescence, but as she recounted later, she had been sexually abused when she was six years old.
When her mother died she went into a period of depression, which was aggravated when her sister Stella also died two years later.
Despite her bouts of suffering, for four years she took classes in German, Greek and Latin at the Ladies’ Department of King’s College London. It was during this period that she developed her feminist stance.
After some turbulent years of psychological disorders, and after being institutionalized, she committed suicide at the age of 59.

About a Room of One’s Own

In a lengthy essay, the narrator explores how the different educational experiences privilege men over women. Spending a day in the British Museum Library perusing the scholarship on women, she concludes that most of it —if not all— had been written by men in anger and hostility. The study of history was of no help. So she constructs in her own imagination what she imagines was the plight of women; to this effort she explains the impediments Judith Shakespeare —Shakespeare’s sister— would have encountered.
She then analyses the achievements of the major women novelists of the nineteenth century, reflecting on the importance of tradition to an aspiring writer. Following up with living writers, she takes a close look at a novel by one of the narrator’s contemporaries.
Using a curious metaphor: “a spot the size of a shilling at the back of the head,” she urges women to be original, and to write about what others don’t see and miss; and that the writing must be smooth and clear: “Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer.” In one word: writing that is incandescent.
The problem as Woof sees it is that to accomplish that fine writing a woman must first achieve intellectual freedom as granted by having a room of one’s own and five hundred a year in income.

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