Herland, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and Selected Writings
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Herland, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and Selected Writings

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  640 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a turn-of-the-century American feminist and socialist thinker. In her works of fiction, Gilman sought to illustrate her ideas about the way American society squandered the talents and economic contributions of women. Based on the nervous breakdown she suffered during her own disastrous first marriage, The Yellow Wall-Paper is her classic story...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1915)
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Zezee
An unsettling story, to say the least. I decided to read this story because of how often I’ve heard of it. I was particularly intrigued because I was told that the narrator is highly unreliable and mad. Crazy people always pique my interest. Of course, my constant misgiving regarding the classics made me assume that it would be a boring read but I resolved to plow through it no matter what. I wanted to know what happens.

I read “The Yellow Wall-Paper” in the Penguin Classics copy of Gillman’s sel...more
Ellen
May 21, 2011 Ellen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers interested in early feminism, utopian cultures, women's issues, and the like.
Recommended to Ellen by: No one. Just found it at the library.
SPOILER WARNING!! This review contains spoilers. You may not wish to read past this point...


Turned out to be a really fun read. Gilman was way ahead of her time, and in "Herland" she created a utopian country composed only of women and children, no men. The society had developed a tightly knit culture in which the good of the group came in way ahead of the good of the individual, competition and other "masculine" values had been virtually eliminated, and everyone cooperated in raising children....more
Nicole
gilman tells a tale of 3 men, who each represent 3 views toward women, as they enter an isolated Utopian society of only women who reproduce asexually. You have:

terry the dominant male type who feels women must be mastered.
vandyke, or van, represents the compromise between extreme views on women. he's in the middle.
jeff believes women are angels to be worshiped and held up on a pedestal.

at first, i very much enjoyed the story gilman portrayed, but as i kept reading, she started to lose me. perha...more
Traci
Sep 20, 2008 Traci rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one of the first feminist writers. She was born in mid-1800, committed suicide, while suffering from cancer, in 1935.

Herland is a country of women only. The men had been killed during a war and earthquake. For centuries the women had built up their country -- beautifying and improving it. Three male explorers accidentally find this country. At first the men are thought to have great insight for humanity and invention, but after learning from them, the women discover...more
Robin
Herland was an impossible but interesting imagining of an all-female society (I say impossible not because of the society itself, but because of the spontaneous virgin birth). Although the ending was awkward, the exploration of how a female-driven society would development was quite enjoyable and interesting. Perhaps it would have been more interesting during the time the book was written, when there was a very palpable culture of viewing women as obviously inferior, weak, incompetent, emotional...more
Diana
As much as I love Charlotte Perkins Gilman, I was not as impressed by Herland as I expected to be. I found it didactic in places rather than letting the story just flow and get the message across. For my taste, her short stories get her message of women's equality across in a much more powerful way because the stories are less didactic and preachy. I think it's an important book, don't get me wrong, but I think other writers have created these women's countries and utopias in a much more believa...more
Annie
I wrote a really long review of this book, but somehow it got deleted. Anyways, basically it said that Herland and "The Yellow Wallpaper" are the only two writings Gilman is known for, and her writing in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is far superior to that of Herland (as judged by the millions of English teachers who now assign "Yellow Wallpaper"). In Herland, which is a story of three men who find an isolated commune of self-reproducing women, the writing is somewhat mediocre and the characters are f...more
Asmayani Kusrini
“Do your women have no names before they are married?” Celis suddenly demanded.
“Why, yes,” Jeff explained. “They have their maiden names — their father’s names, that is.”
“And what becomes of them?” asked Alima.
“They change them for their husbands’, my dear,” Terry answered her.
“Change them? Do the husbands then take the wives’ ‘maiden names’?”
“Oh, no,” he laughed. “The man keeps his own and gives it to her, too.”
“Then she just loses hers and takes a new one — how unpleasant! We won’t do that!” A...more
Camille Chidsey
I didn't get around to reading Herland but I read the short stories and poetry. Gilman's poetry is phenomenal. The short stories were also good, although some were better than others which was to be expected. Several stories really impressed me though. Overall, Gilman is a fantastic writer. She's definitely well ahead of her time, and I was pleasantly surprised to see such strong advocacy for women to separate themselves from house and home in 19th century literature. Very interesting, truthful,...more
Tcwildstar
I was consumed by the concept of the Yellow Wallpaper in college. The way the woman progresses through the story, leading the reader to ask "is she really going mad?" It was delightful and frightening a the same time.

Last year, I mentioned my obsession with reading this story occasionally to my boss and she recommended Herland. Herland is delightful and appeals to the cultural anthropologist in me. The juxtaposition of two conflicting cultures as the characters try to reason which is superior i...more
Melinda
What can I say about Herland? I wish that I had skipped the first 60 pages. I like learning about the land more than the men's experiences in it. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a reflection of her era and can brush over race while referencing it. Why weren't there any lesbians!? Seriously a land of only women and not one lesbian! This review is more about my frustrations than the actual content of the novel. I'll have to revisit when I can remember what I liked about it.
Sade
WOW!!! This book REALLY took my imagination to another level. When I read this book, I was taking a course on reproductive techologies and frankly I was in awe of all the options the future seemed to hold... and scared too. This book took the traditional concepts of man and woman and threw it out the window. Who would have thought that a society of women could function so well and only dismantle with the appearance of man ::sarcastically speaking::
Dionne Seevers
This is a life altering book for me, I need a copy because I gave it away and would like it for my library. The Yellow Wall-Paper was a college requirement and through further research into the life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, I wanted to read Herland. There is something interesting about a matriarchal society. How would women survive without the structure and constant involvement of men? Herland takes it further...
Cody
Yellow Wall-Paper was pretty bangin but the rest of the stories are bland as all hell. Herland was a cool idea for its first few chapters but then continued to show little nuance for the rest of the thing. here's a coolass society of women, surely you can think of cooler things to say for 200 pages than 'it's perfect in every way'
Meg
Well written short stories and poems. Not male bashing, just glimpses of strong women during a time when that was frowned upon. Herland itself drags a little toward the end -- I'm glad the author mostly stuck with short stories. Many of the stories twist at the end, which is enjoyable. Worth a read.
Sareene
I loved Herland. It is hard to believe that it was written in the 19th century, especially Gilman's ideas on religion and socialism. Of the short stories, Yellow Wallpaper is still my favorite. There were a few that I really enjoyed, but I'm not one for short stories. I always want more.
Heidi
Mar 16, 2008 Heidi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Heidi by: book group
A Utopian vision of the perfect world that women would create were it not for the aggression and competetiveness of men. Okay, it's very biased, but it is a beautiful vision and an interesting read, particularly if you consider the time period in which it was written.
Lucy Burnett
The book was obvious in its references to socialism and challenging the social norm of Gilman's time. I read it for my Great Lives and Works class and it wasn't the best I've read in school but it most certainly wasn't the worst either.
Nif
May 28, 2008 Nif added it
I'm reading this slowly. I'm pretty sure it will take me some time to get through it, but I don't mind taking the time to digest it. So far, I like her style, and the story (while obvious in places) is entertaining.
Cheri
One of my favorite utopian writings, Herland imagines the victorian world if women were in charge. The Yelllow Wallpaper is also another favorite - CPG vividly describes the descent into madness.
Pimpawan
Just a sheer promotion of feminist campaign that is only applicable with the nineteenth century context. But with no critical faculty at work while reading, this is a great joy.
Rachel Burt
I read the Yellow Wallpaper in school and was blown away by it, unable to forget the details. It's not often that a short story touches me so deeply.
Desertisland
Maybe I'll get around to reading sequel sometime, "Her in Ourland". Reminds me a little of "future" chapter in "The Story of the Amulet" by E. Nesbit.
Alonso
Dear God,
I'm not enjoying this trite, obvious, simplistic view of gender, nature and sexual and physical impulses.

Sincerely,
Alonso
Kassie
"the rocking chair" is another excellent fear-ridden short story. i identify with gilman's protagonists far too deeply.
Katie
Jul 02, 2007 Katie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
Shelves: books-i-loved
This book, and this author, for that matter, are absolutely vital readings in feminism. I can't even say enough.
Mnmom
I read this in my 20's and found it interesting. Just reread at age 49 and found a whole new meaning.
Carissa
Didn't read the whole thing, just Herland and The Yellow Wall-paper, both great!
Scroutch
Blah. More utopian fiction. For an all-female utopia Herland is waaaay un-sexy.
Kara
Motherhood!!! Sisterhood!!! Parthenogenesis!!! This book has it all.
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and non fiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today i...more
More about Charlotte Perkins Gilman...
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories The Yellow Wallpaper Herland The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings (Bantam Classics) Women and Economics

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