sarah gilbert's Reviews > A Room of One's Own

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
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Jan 20, 11

bookshelves: kitchen-table-mfa, will-re-read-and-re-read
Read from June 23, 2010 to January 20, 2011

It starts slow; one gets confused with Mary Seton and Mary Beton and Mary Carmichael, Professor X, Mr. Greg, the everpresent Beadle. One wonders how much, indeed, five hundred pounds might be today; one examines her own life to see, has she had already too many children? Has she missed already the vital call to fiction? Has she given up locked rooms in haste and in terrible, terrible error?

But by the last 40 pages, I am gulping and stopping, filled with a thrill of possibility and a conviction of moral obligation to women writers and readers before and yet to come, achingly grateful for the 'toiling in poverty and obscurity" of Woolf's mother and Jane Austen and George Eliot and Jane Eyre and Virginia herself, driven mad to her very own death for it, itching with all in me to pick up my pencil or my keyboard and write until I have laid all bare.

I will take from Virginia's own pen her supplication, "I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream... For books have a way of influencing each other."

Indeed. And this has been your influence on me, Virginia: a sprung sentence structure that lilts and sweeps, an eye that sees the color of a boot, the nature of a flower, the rhythm of a leaf or a ripple or the life of a street. All swings, sways, comes together in a pattern that is random and thrilled with meaning and vast and you describe it in a way that shouts, whispers, sings me to sleep.
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Reading Progress

06/23/2010 page 45
40.0% "through her eyes, I love, and loathe, England as it was, then."
01/20/2011 page 95
85.0% "chastising myself for having let this lie fallow so long. picked it up again, and was plunged back immediately into the time, the piercing and fascinating reviews of Austen (eloquent, sweet, perfect) and Eyre (a formidable talent spoiled by bitterness and isolation) and wanting to read, again, Bronte, and wondering where *I* would fall on Woolf's spectrum of judgment. to be judged by her would terrify, wouldn't it?"
01/20/2011 page 110
98.0% "gulping it and at the same time unable to finish. underlining everything. gasping and choking with her sure rightness. like this: 'by hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world,...'" 1 comment
01/20/2011 page 112
100.0% "wrote on the last page, october 2028, 17 years: that's when those of us with five hundred a year and a room of our own with a lock on it -- something I have yet to achieve, of course, but something I *could* given my children "in twos and threes, not in tens and twelves": that's when we should find that body for Shakespeare's sister, if we work for her, our work, 'even in poverty and obscurity, is worthwhile.'"

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell This book was totally like life to me when I was about fourteen. It changed my thinking and mind in so many ways -- I am sure I would be a different person without it. PBS/BBC aired a version of it in the 90s (1990, the web tells me) with Vanessa Redgrave? (no, Eileen Atkins) that I taped and still have around here somewhere and OH MY GOD, I BAWLED AT THE END. It was like Virginia was speaking THROUGH the TV set.


sarah gilbert wow, 14 hmmm? that must have been some early awakening. I'll have to see if I can find a copy of that telecast.


message 3: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell sarah wrote: "wow, 14 hmmm? that must have been some early awakening. I'll have to see if I can find a copy of that telecast."

Yeah, I still have that copy of the book -- I don't even remember why I decided to read it. I think it was mentioned in a Le Guin essay (Language of the Night was my bible for a while). It was definitely the first Woolf I ever read, and then after that the stories, essays, Dalloway, Lighthouse, letters, diaries &c &c. Dalloway's still my sentimental favourite.

It's this one -- ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS, JESUS. But it would almost be worth it. Probably a uni has it? http://films.com/id/6213/Virginia_Woo...


message 4: by Moira (last edited Jan 21, 2011 08:08AM) (new) - added it

Moira Russell Oh wow, wait, they have a ton of clips to preview! Including the end! WATCH THE END FIRST, IT'S AWESOME. DAMN, THEY DIDN'T PUT THE END ONLINE. That clip is a pretty good sample anyway -- it's based on Atkins's stage show (wouldn't that have been fun to see!). IIRC the end was just her face, in closeup, reciting the very end of the book. It was extremely moving.


sarah gilbert ohh, darn. I have to get the only computing device in the house on which flash works to watch 'em. maybe we should start a letter-writing campaign to PBS to put them back on air.


message 6: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell sarah wrote: "maybe we should start a letter-writing campaign to PBS to put them back on air."

YEAH

....all my local PBS ever shows is Sew Many Quilts, I don't even fucking know. And Suze Orman and Deepak Chopra, or his equivalent.


sarah gilbert you poor thing. I've been having a great time with 'Masterpiece Theatre' lately... it's been fantastic! and some of the local OPB shows are interesting, especially the outdoorsy ones. one of my favorite things to do in the summer is turn the channel to PBS at noon for the painting guy... the boys groan and then become mesmerized. (he should be hired out to calm down wild classrooms of elementary schools)


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