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Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
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's review
Oct 18, 15

bookshelves: sf-fantasy, fiction
Read in January, 2007

This book works extremely well if one assumes it to be a satirical portrayal of extreme feminist idealism.

When one realizes that it is meant to be taken at face value - well, to say that it doesn't work quite as well is to understate the case. The plot is thin, the characters are flat, the prose is didactically limp, the improvements suggested are impractical and border on the dystopian.

I found that the women seem to be devoid of significant differences in personality, while the three men exhibit clear differences in character. Surely that's the primary indication that the society described is unfeasible and ultimately amounts to nothing more than a ludicrous fantasy? Perhaps I have the benefit of retrospection in my position as a female living a fair number of years after (near-global) women's suffrage, but, you know, I'm pretty certain that women are as prone to incompetence and other negative personality traits as men are.

The suspension of belief required is just too great, especially for a book intended to be a genuine critique of early 20th century society.

**Addendum: I wrote this years ago; my opinion is now slightly more nuanced, but I have elected to leave this up. Not so sure why. As a digital memento of my youth probably.
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