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Penguin Great Ideas : A Room of One's Own Mass Market Paperback – 2 Sep 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Rev Ed edition (2 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141018984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141018980
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.9 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"

Praise for the reader
Juliet Stevenson's narration is perfect

" (The Oldie - on A Room with a View) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

With an exclusive new introduction by Ali Smith, Virginia Woolf's famous polemic is brought to new life on audio --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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By A Customer on 16 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
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, and finds a startling anomaly: "Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant."
Unlike many feminist authors, Woolf does not argue for tearing down the achievements of male authors. In fact she argues that both sexes should write androgynously, in order to find the proper reality of things, but at its heart it is a feminist essay. At the time Woolf was writing women had been granted many more freedoms than their mothers, but still had a lot to fight for, and she urges women to do so, albeit for the realm of intellectual freedom and the pleasure of writing for a living. (I have no doubt she would do the same today, despite all our apparent advances.)
She knew she was one of the fortunate (she was left five hundred pounds a year by her aunt, giving her economic independence) and she famously concludes that a women must have a room of her own and money of her own in order to write. But why? It is not so that there are idle hours to be filled by writing - it is because writing well and truthfully can only be properly achieved when a woman is not railing against the bounds of poverty, dependence, social exclusion and disapproval.
The essay is, however, also art.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I admit that as a younger student I found Woolf rather dull and distasteful. There was something so inaccessible and over-done about her writing. However, I came to understand my own ignorance and come to a love of Woolf by seeing her as a poet, as a thinker, and not as a novelist. It is true that her writing is complex, erudite and ambiguous but that is its charm, its enigmatic charm - and A Room of One's Own is no exception.
This is not a novel but rather a set of essays given to an audience of young cambridge girl students. The book opens with the wonderful premise 'A Woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'. Thus, we are made to understand immediately the crux of the book; that intellectual freedom depends upon material things and that for women to create works comparable to Shakespeare's tragedies she must have a sense of autonomy.
Woolf proceeds to take us on a witty journey through the history of women and literature to explain why the female sex has always been limited. She concots, for sake of argument, the figure of Shakespeare's sister, who like her elder brother had a talent for theatre and creation of art. Due to her sex she is limited and ends up leading a frustrated life and ultimately killing herself. Woolf ends the book by calling her audience to write, to write widely and by doing so to emancipate Shakespeare's sister and show the men that women aren't their social, physical and mental inferiors.
One could say this is the start of feminist criticism, indeed with the book being published in the year of the acquisition of female suffrage the context would seem awfully auspicious. The book follows Woolf's ideoysncratic modernist style, pursuing the 'stream of thought' format.
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Format: Paperback
'A Room of One's Own' is an extremely readable essay. It's a delightful read and the classification of it as an 'essay' should not put anyone off as it is as entertaining as any of Woolf's prose. Once I started reading it I could not stop. Woolf flirts with you through her narrative, drawing you in to her thought processes, enticing you to follow her narrator on a journey of the mind as she wanders about 'Oxbridge' and London. Woolf demonstrates great insight, forseeing the future for women and their involvement in the arts with great accuracy. Through her narrative she also introduces a new discourse, one that she encourages other women to take up in order to free themselves from the masculine domination of literature. Inspirational.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 text to highlight/use the dictionary etc. POOR. Yes, we're in a recession yet it's much more for the principle than the financial stretch of the 77p that I urge you to buy another edition.
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Format: Paperback
This book has so much more to offer than simply a treatise on the feminist needs of creative women (although this is a very important topic, and as relevant now as when Woolf wrote her essays); it also offers excellent advice on the art of writing well, and the need for a good writer to resist the urge to use their craft as a stage from which to proclaim their views. I already know this book will have a profound effect on my own writing, and for that alone it thoroughly deserves five stars.
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