Group Read - A Room of One's Own

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Group Read - A Room of One's Own

1AlisonY
Editado: Fev 19, 2023, 5:48 am



Welcome to this group read of A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf which we will be starting on 1st April.

As this is a slim piece of work, I suggest that we just go at our own pace and meet back here for musings as fits in with our other reading schedules in the month.

2LolaWalser
Fev 20, 2023, 3:06 am

Oh geez... April 1.

this is a slim piece of work

Only physically. Intellectually it's quite meaty. And with the accrued distance in terms of not just time but social framework, cultural meanings...

3AlisonY
Fev 22, 2023, 9:42 am

>2 LolaWalser: Ooh - that should make for some great discussion. Fancy a reread and joining us?

4LolaWalser
Fev 22, 2023, 10:42 pm

As long as this is not a joke thread for an anti-feminist mock-fest... Woolf is a favourite so I probably won't resist at least lurking.

I have Women & fiction : the manuscript versions of A room of one's own, only skimmed since I got it, so this may be a chance to look at it more closely.

5AlisonY
Editado: Fev 23, 2023, 3:09 pm

>4 LolaWalser: I love Woolf too, so safe space!

As you've read it I'd love any suggestions you have on how to structure the group read if there's plenty to stop and discuss. I haven't got my copy yet so don't know how it's laid out.

6AlisonY
Mar 25, 2023, 1:15 pm

A wee reminder that the group read will start on 1st April. The more the merrier.

I bought a lovely vintage classics copy with Three Guineas. I think it's paired with A Room of One's Own, so we'll read both if everyone's OK with that.

7Cynfelyn
Mar 30, 2023, 11:47 am

For your information, Melvyn Bragg and guests, Hermione Lee, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, Michele Barrett, Emeritus Professor of Modern Literary and Cultural Theory at Queen Mary, University of London, and Alexandra Harris, Professor of English at the University of Birmingham, discussed Virginia Woolf and A room of one's own on this morning's BBC Radio 4 'In our time'.

Available on today's schedule at https://www.bbc.co.uk/schedules/p00fzl7j (at 09.00, repeated 21.30), and available long-term on BBC Sounds at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001kh32 (geographic limits may apply).

8AlisonY
Mar 30, 2023, 12:44 pm

Oh fabulous. Will make a point of listening to that on my way to work next week.

9LolaWalser
Mar 30, 2023, 2:52 pm

>7 Cynfelyn:

Thanks!

Bemused a little by the "does one really need a room to write in" discussion. No doubt some men wrote in crowded spaces, and some women managed to write in such circumstances too. But I always thought of it as not just a literal space, but metaphorical too--a space/time continuum where one's proper occupation is seen to and that others recognise as such.

Reminds me of how my father always had a study for himself, but my mother didn't. In fact (I can't believe I'm realising this only now) she was the only one in the family without a room of her own.

10AlisonY
Abr 1, 2023, 8:11 am

Starting this later tonight - looking forward to it.

>9 LolaWalser: I'm assuming this was one of the debating points from the podcast? Will listen to that next week. I have done initial thoughts,but will save them until I do some reading if the book and listening to the discussion.

11AlisonY
Abr 1, 2023, 2:12 pm

I had a short reading window mid-afternoon and read the first chapter. Immediately I'm entranced all over again by how Woolf just puts you in the moment of a bygone age. With writers like her it's as close as we'll get to time-travelling to a previous era (from the upper class vantage point, at least).

In this first chapter it was wonderful to get a glimpse into Woolf's own stream of consciousness and her musings on literature. We haven't got into the real heart of the subject of this essay just yet, but she is warming us up with musings about if female ancestors had been able to work and make fortunes, highlighting the legislation that would have forbidden them to keep such a fortune for many centuries had they had the opportunity to go down that path.

I'm looking forward to where she takes this. In chapter 1 I'm distracted by the deliciousness of her turn of phrase, and of Cambridge 100 years ago. I know Cambridge very well as a city, and I'm imagining Woolf wandering about the streets with all these wonderful thoughts running through her head. However, her almost passing comments about being denied access to the library because she had no male chaperone makes me think back to how incredible it was that women's access to education at Cambridge (and beyond) was limited in that post-WWI period, with women only enjoying a fraction of the rights their male counterparts did in terms of the buildings they could enter, what they could study and to what extent. In the era that Woolf is writing this, women studying at Cambridge were not allowed to receive degrees.

Woolf herself enjoyed rather an independent and bohemian lifestyle which is doubtlessly much more modern than that experienced by most women in early 20th century in terms of the opportunities afforded to her. It will be interesting to find out in this essay just how strongly she feels about the political, economic and social limitations put on British women at that time.

12labfs39
Abr 1, 2023, 10:30 pm

I read the first chapter and a half, but the text in my e-version became garbled and I've had to get another version and start over. This is my first time reading Woolf. I wasn't expecting the humor.

13AlisonY
Abr 2, 2023, 5:24 am

I'm noticing the humour more in this essay than in what I've read previously by her. There are moments where her wit feels very quick and smart.

14labfs39
Abr 2, 2023, 8:14 am

Here are a couple of examples of humor from Chapter 1:

...for it is the nature of biscuits to be dry, and these were biscuits to the core.

You cannot, it seems, let children run about the streets. People who have seen them running wild in Russia say that the sight is not a pleasant one.


And this regarding the shut door of the library:

...I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in...

15AlisonY
Abr 2, 2023, 2:58 pm

>14 labfs39: That last quote I thought was very clever.

16AlisonY
Abr 6, 2023, 3:51 pm

I've finished A Room of One's Own and have moved on to The Three Guineas, which is in my edition and I'm assuming in everyone else's as well. I wish I'd taken some notes as I read it as there was much to think about and my memory is like Dory from Finding Nemo.

One thought that kept entering my head as I read was what a brilliant mind Woolf had and how sorrowful that she felt compelled to end her life. That thought hasn't been at the forefront of my mind when reading her fiction, but this book feels more personal, more of a glimpse into Woolf's own thoughts. I enjoyed how she gradually added layer upon layer to lead her audience to the point she wished to make; she doesn't go for the jugular or let emotion and indignation swallow her up. She takes what appears to be an impassive, detached approach to her argument, yet all the while is deftly building her case with fact upon fact until there's no room for manoeuvre.

She truly painted a picture of the unfair limitations in life that women faced in a way that really spoke to me. I feel almost ashamed to have read the likes of Austen and the Brontes and never once to have given consideration to what a feat it was for them to break through as female writers. Worse, how could I not have realised how shackled their writing imagination was given the limitations put on them in a male-dominated world.

I'm only half a chapter in on The Three Guineas, but it's starting out spikier and she seems to be going for the jugular now. A Room of One's Own felt like the 'what' preface. Now she's demanding to know why.

17labfs39
Abr 9, 2023, 2:01 pm

Sorry I dropped the ball; I will try to finish soon.

The essay is making me think a lot more about all the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that women's minds and actions were curtailed (and still are for so many). From poverty and lack of education to unfettered childbearing and lack of time/space/agency, Woolf covers a lot of ground.

It's an interesting mix of personal experience and fiction too.

18AlisonY
Abr 29, 2023, 4:41 pm

My review of both essays is on my thread. I waded much more through Three Guineas and found it hard to keep a pace reading it.

19raton-liseur
Maio 1, 2023, 11:29 am

I've read A room of one's own this month, but did not comment as I was away from LT for some time. I did enjoy it very much, and used this opportunity to listen to a podcast on Virginia Woolf and to read a few short stories as well. I learnt a lot, and reading A room of one's own was great, and much easier than what I had expected.
In French editions, Three Guineas is usually not linked to A room of one's own. As I've spent quite some time with Virginia Woolf this month, I was not sure I wanted to read it, and based on your review, I certainly will not: I prefer to keep the nice feeling of the witty and enlightening read I just had.

Thanks a lot for organising this common read. I did not participate actively, but it gave me the incentive I needed to finally read this book that I had bought quite a few years ago but that was frightening me a bit (for no good reason, I see that now!).

20AlisonY
Maio 2, 2023, 1:15 pm

>19 raton-liseur: Delighted you enjoyed ARoOO. I kept being reminded just how damn smart Woolf was as I was reading it. Every sentence seemed perfectly crafted, and she was so clever at how she brings us oh so casually to the points she wanted to make.