From reading A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, the impression I am left with is that this is some serious, before-its-time, groundbreaking and highly intelligent writing, which went down back at the start of the previous century, when the state of things for women was very dire indeed, and when the kinds of opinion which Woolf put forth were the furthest thing from popular culture you could find.

I think Virginia Woolf must have been very brave to write this book. She seems to have been pretty independent, with money from an inheritance keeping her free from relying on men, and more so than independant in her general life, she seems to have had a very independent mind. Because I don’t think it could have been very easy at her time to reach the conclusions and have the thought processes that she did, I think she really needed to think outside the box to get there.

Challenging the status quo like she did required wit and creativity, and doing so without much guidance really is a great feat.

I’ll stop going on about how amazing Woolf must have been now, and say that I found the book to be a pretty heavy read. It is largely written as stream of consciousness, and I found I needed to put the effort in to be able to really focus on what I was reading. But despite the fact that the reading required a lot from me, it was by no means a frustrating read, I think just because it was so rewarding at the same time. Some of the sentences are pure magic, they are so beautiful, and it was very much a book which took me on a journey, through Oxford and London and Woolf’s inner workings.

She talks about how the reason why there were so few great women in history was because of how their circumstances didn’t allow for them to be great. So that even those who had a genious within them were not allowed to reach their full potential, but were instead told that due to their gender they could not read, write, talk, learn or dream like men could. Woolf takes us through all the really horrific statements from men about how women were the weaker sex, and she does wonders in arguing them.

I’m very glad I read the book, I’ve felt for some time that I was lacking in not having read this staple of feminist literary history, and now that I know how wonderful the book really is I know that I was right to feel like something was missing. You should all pick up a copy, hopefully you can find one which is as pretty as the one I got from a Waterstones in London this autumn. And now I’ll leave you with a quote.

‘Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size … that serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be … for if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgement, civilizing natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?’
– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

 virginia woolf book a room of one's own

 virginia woolf book a room of one's own