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A Room of One's Own (Penguin Great Ideas) Hardcover – 3 Nov 2011
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Probably the most influential piece of non-fictional writing by a woman in this century (Hermione Lee Financial Times)
With an exclusive new introduction by Ali Smith, Virginia Woolf's famous polemic is brought to new life on audio --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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- "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well"
- "Why are women, judging from this catalogue, so much more interesting to men than men are to women?"
- "There is no gate, no lock, no bolt, that you can set upon the freedom of my mind"
- "It is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex"
- "Women have always been poor, not for 200 years, but from the beginning of time"
Written in 1929, Woolf's essay (originally a series of lectures to Newnham and Girton Colleges) is read often today as a foundational document of feminist literary theory. Extremely prescient, it touches on theoretical issues such as female writing, and the representation of women in male-authored texts, thus foreshadowing the work done by French feminists such as Cixous, Irigaray and Kristeva. By clearly articulating the relationship between text and material world, and uncovering paradigms of power and self-interest, she also prefigures the influential work of Marxist critics such as Barthes and Foucault.
Given its date of composition, there are points at which Woolf is factually wrong - most pressingly when she talks about the impossibility of female poets during the Renaissance. Later scholarship focusing on Renaissance women poets such as Louise Labe, Veronica Franco, Aemilia Lanyer, Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney, Mary Wroth et al have uncovered that women certainly did write, circulate and even publish poetry in the sixteenth century, though certainly these processes were never unproblematic.
I particularly like the way in which Woolf offers her essay as an example of how to 'do' theory - she states that she doesn't want her listeners/readers to simply read and accept, but to engage actively, to resist, argue back, extend and re-write her arguments.
The whole is written in a lively, witty, style making it probably one of the most accessible theoretical texts we have from the modern period. So whether you're interested in feminist/gendered literary theory or Woolf, this is a stimulating and spirited read.