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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and Invigorating
Asked originally to deliver a talk on Women and Fiction in 1928, Virginia Woolf eventually produced this longer essay which expands its subject to cover education, marriage, property and money. She moves backwards through literary history, examining the women who have written, often against great opposition, and the female characters that have been written, mostly by men,...
Published on 16 Mar 2003

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Format poorness rivals Woolf's brilliance
An incredibly lazy job of editing and frustratingly unreadable format cost me 77p. When I purchase a classic that I could read for free elsewhere, I really prefer that the majority of words are intact, not cut off at the end of every other line and chunks of text occasionally skipped altogether. Furthermore, unlike most kindle texts, I was unable to scroll through the...
Published on 5 May 2012 by Quaeon


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important read., 10 Feb 2012
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One of the most important books I have read in my life.

Shame on my teachers for not letting me know about this book. I can not believe it took me so long to find out about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and Wise, 8 Dec 2011
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Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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Virginia Woolf was asked to give a talk about Women and Fiction in 1928. The talk eventually became this book. Woolf shows very convincingly how women have found it difficult to be taken seriously in the world of literature. Her famous suggestion that women can only play a full part in writing if they have an income of five hundred year and a room of their own - with a lock on the door still holds good today though the amount of money needed would be larger. She provides some examples of how women's talents were just not taken seriously and they were regarded as totally inferior to even the most mediocre man.

I found it interesting that she thought the best writing is androgynous and could have been written by either men or women. She accepts that women may write differently from men because they are aware of different aspects of life because of the way society is organised. Jane Austen wrote about what she knew as did George Eliot. They are disparaged because they deal with everyday life whereas men write about the outside world because that is what they know. Could Tolstoy have written `War and Peace' if he had been female? Woolf thinks not.

Woolf's overall thesis is that the world of literature needs both masculine qualities and feminine qualities. She does not want to downgrade the achievements of men because she believes the world needs both. The example of Shakespeare's sister is a telling one even though Shakespeare's writing is androgynous. Writers need to use both sides of their brains and personalities which echoes Jung's ideas that men have a feminine side just as women have a masculine side - wholeness comes from using both sides.

This book is well worth reading for its writing style alone and for its humour. This is not a feminist tract by any means but it does make some very valid points about how women were still treated in the nineteen twenties even though they had the right to vote.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...whether she has a pen in her hand or a pickaxe..., 30 May 2011
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Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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There was a rotten speck, like a maggot in an apple, at the centre of women's writing, according to Virginia Woolf in 1928. It consisted in how a woman's mind must bend according to the social construct in which she is forced to reside. My first thought was, but isn't this just as true for men? Of course, I am thinking in 2011, in my own room, with self-sufficiency earned. In 1928 (only 83 years ago) it didn't seem that way, though it remains a false construct for both sexes. The real problem lies only in how much each sex is forced to bend. Completely out of shape, or only a little?

Being careful to keep 83 years in sight it is possible, just, to see the anger. Although Woolf feels that women's writing should not basely reflect that anger and seems to criticise Charlotte Bronte for that moment when Jane Eyre goes out onto the roof and longs for the opportunity to see the world, or at least to have more experience of it than is possible for a poor woman, a governess, tied to a station in life which offers only demeaning servitude. But how could she not want more? It throws up questions - isn't this exactly what the powerless do? In a rare misjudgement Woolf chooses to see this moment of Bronte's empathy with her subject as an emotion imposed from somewhere outside of the novel and then proceeds to get angry herself and thereby practices what she preaches against, which, even if this essay isn't fiction, still comes from outside. Clearly, here, VW the critic has interfered with VW the writer; she has a paint-stripping way with put-downs and the habit must have been hard to break. Elsewhere she admits Charlotte Bronte to the big four of women writers, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen and George Eliot being the others.

Woolf contends that on the inception of the Women's Movement men began exclusively writing with the male side of their brains (even though Coleridge had earlier claimed that a great mind is androgynous); did virility become so self-conscious? She names some of the perpetrators, Galsworthy and Kipling among them and says of them (incontrovertibly, I think) "They celebrate male virtues, enforce male values and describe the world of men." How could they do otherwise, one might think? I can remember, however, making the same discovery myself, during my own younger reading life: Kingsley Amis (and his son), Alan Sillitoe, John Braine - Angry Young Men whose sentences dropped to the floor, overburdened by their own sexual potency, not a thing of worth to say about the half of the human race they appeared to hold as object rather than subject. Woolf hopes, in 1928, that this is just a passing phase. Yes, Virginia, it was, but still recurs from time to time as men and their assurances rise and fall.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book that ever changed my opinion., 13 Aug 2010
My girlfriend studies women literature, and I always joke with her saying- oh, you feminists, I know what you are like. And then I read "Room of One's Own", Woolf's semi-autobiographical essay about the constraints and confines which have hindered womens writing in the past. Shakespeare's sister is a fantastic scenario. In the entire essay, a word is not wasted. I absolutely love this, and would recommend it to any friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Essay On Women, 20 Sep 2009
There is no mistaking Woolf's writing style: intricate, introspective, convoluted and then again portraying ideas and situations with brilliant clarity and insight. She ponders the plight of women during her time and through history. Her main question asks why women, despite even those with exceptional talents of intelligence and character, have been abused and dominated by men and relegated to roles as mothers and servants to the men around them. Why are there not great female financiers, writers, academics, etc.? Or why are there too few of them? She searches in many corners such as history books and makes deplorable discoveries: early teen marriages, beatings, restrictions of all sorts, and despicable opinions of women in general by academics and men in other stations. In one instance she compares the plight of Shakespeare and his sister, both equally talented, and you can imagine the results. Her musings are gripping and interesting and at the same time she paints the quality of her physical surroundings quite vividly. This is a favorite book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 16 Jun 2014
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Found this alittle hard to read and understand at first, but once I got into it I found the book to be very interesting to read. Again another book for my University course.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and challenging, 26 April 2014
What can I say? An inspiring, challenging, confidence building lecture by a truly great woman writer. Woolf’s discussion of the hypothetical fate of Judith Shakespeare, William’s similarly talented but gender challenged sister, will stay with me forever. This is a work to be revisited regularly by women writers to lift up their minds and hearts and pens...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and Beautifully Written, 14 Nov 2013
I think "A Room of One's Own" may have just cemented Virginia Woolf's place as one of my favourite authors. Not only that, I think it's probably pushed her very near to the top of the list! Everything I have read so far has been excellent but "A Room of One's Own" is exceptional. This book came into my life at exactly the right time; I wanted something to really sink my teeth into but I didn't want anything too depressing- you know how it is with meatier books sometimes. Anyway, I spotted this book on my bookshelf and couldn't believe it had sat there gathering dust for so long, especially once I started it and felt like it had become glued to my hands. I could not put it down.

Admittedly I had reservations about this book; I was expecting something vitriolic and preachy. But you see, this is a polemic written by Virginia Woolf, and therein lies the magic. "A Room of One's Own" paused for thought where I expected a tirade. It whispered where I expected it to shout. It quietly drew me into the argument and best of all Woolf had so obviously thought clearly and without the heat of angry passion, that her argument emerged from amongst the pages well-formed and convincing. Don't get me wrong, Woolf definitely had an agenda when she was writing this book, but she doesn't let it overrule everything.

In many ways it is an attempt on Woolf's part to define what her thoughts and feelings are on the subject of Women's independence, whilst also trying to figure out what is needed to further enhance it. What makes this book an engaging read is the subtlety Woolf employs. She does not use the egregiousness of her own personal position to tell us how bad her life is, instead she turns a non-fiction piece of writing into a fiction where the heroine is a vague `every woman'. By doing so she removes her personal feelings from the argument which allows her to think dispassionately about the facts in hand. What results it something totally absorbing and convincing. I read this book in a fast paced haze of excitement because it's so good, in fact I think I may have shocked people on the bus with me by saying "EXACTLY" a little louder than I had intended.

What I love most about Virginia Woolf is how she writes things that I hadn't realised I wanted to say, and in such a way that makes them feel totally obvious. She uses such beautiful imagery to elucidate a point that sometimes I'm almost jealous of her ability! Additionally she has a brilliant skill at pacing her writing so that it never feels like it's dragging along but rather encourages readers to turn pages almost faster than they can read them. "A Room of One's Own" is unashamedly a feminist text, but it is also a interesting example of historical perspective. When it was published in 1929 the world was a much different place as a result, one of the things I enjoyed most about reading with this in mind was marvelling in how far we have come since then.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 20 Oct 2013
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This review is from: A Room of One's Own (Kindle Edition)
Not an easy read, one that requires concentration and time but very empowering and informative. Her style of writing and the messages she puts forward are intricate and complex but she tells a great story and its a book that stays with you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 8 Oct 2013
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Good book.
Takes some reading to understand.
It is interesting and dynamic once you get your head around the story
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