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Herland

(The Herland Trilogy #2)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  14,951 ratings  ·  1,450 reviews
An all-female society is discovered somewhere in the distant reaches of the earth by three male explorers who are now forced to re-examine their assumptions about women's roles in society.
Paperback, 147 pages
Published February 12th 1979 by Pantheon (first published 1915)
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Donna Jeffrey Spoiler...In chapter 11 there is (non-explicit) allusion to attempted marital rape. Although Terry's behaviour is important in the plot development an…moreSpoiler...In chapter 11 there is (non-explicit) allusion to attempted marital rape. Although Terry's behaviour is important in the plot development and full understanding of the feminist utopia, I wouldn't say sexual abuse is a central theme.(less)

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Average rating 3.49  · 
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Emily May
Feb 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
I clearly did not get the memo on this one. I thought Herland probably had such a low average rating on Goodreads because it was dated - which it is, obnoxiously so - but I didn't realize what a hate-filled piece of propaganda this book really is.

It came up again when I recently reviewed The Cerulean, a book about an all-female society. People have been mentioning this book to me for years. A secret society of women have created the perfect utopia by killing off the remaining few male survivors
...more
Dixie Diamond
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, my_books, women, 1910s
Three stars: Five stars as a period piece, one as a work of literature.

Mine is the 1979 edition whose preface claims it is still relevant. Perhaps that, too, is an indication of a past phase of feminism, because the story has really not aged very well.

The writing is awful. Sorry. I know that it was originally serialized in Gilman's magazine, which might account for the shallow, unpolished quality of it, but it makes for tiresome reading in novella form.

I hesitate to criticize Herland too much be
...more
karen
i feel like, as a lady, i should like this more. i thought it was okay; i liked some of the gentle satire poked at recontextualizing the things we take for granted about our society, which is supposed to make us laugh and blush. but i think i would go mad here. its a little too wide-eyed stepford wives-y for me. and in a land without men, who would i get to boss around? i just dont think this has aged well, overall, and im not sure why i was under the impression that it was some seminal work tha ...more
Duane
This is considered utopian literature. If you look for a list of utopian literature here on Goodreads you will find it lumped together with dystopian literature, which is odd because they mean exactly the opposite. Herland is distinctly utopian. Merriam-Webster says utopia is "an imaginary and indefinitely remote place". That defines Herland perfectly. It is also considered feminist literature, and that fits Perkins perfectly because she was a feminist first and foremost.

Herland is the unusual s
...more
Paige (Enchantology)
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paige by: Daniella
Shelves: feminism
4.5 stars

Gilman is savage. I love it.
Wanda
What a great piece of feminist writing! Not exactly what I was expecting in a book published in 1915. It starts out rather like an H. Rider Haggard novel (as I suppose it was intended to), with three young men adventuring far from home, spoiling for exploration. They have all the stereotypical male entitlement issues, but three very different personalities.

Terry is the “man's man" among them and Gilman sets him up as quite the piece of work. She must have someone specific in mind as she created
...more
Daniella
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After a lot of thought, I've decided to give this book five stars. No, this is not a "gripping" read, nor will most of the characters stick in your mind for years to come. But this is probably the best feminist book I've ever read, not to mention the most approachable.

Besides it's page length of 144 pages, it's approachable in it's text. It takes a naturalistic approach in it's content, rather than relying on romanticism so it is very diplomatic and practical. It attacks concepts instilled in w
...more
Andrea
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender, sf-fantasy
Written in 1915 and serialised in her paper, this is a fairly funny description of three men landing in a country where there are only women -- a land of cooperation, peace, prosperity, wisdom and achievement. The humour lies in the misconceptions of the men as to women's capacities, and their constant bumping against all of the horrible poverty and injustices in the world that they take for granted. It's quite a fascinating glimpse into the period, and there is much to love about a feminist soc ...more
Michelle
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm not going to rate this book for its entertainment factor, because I don't think that was Gilman's main purpose (and it wasn't that entertaining anyway). I found so many things fascinating about Herland.

My notes:

I was interested to see that Gilman was more trapped in masculine culture and language than we are today (we're making progress, good!). For example, it seemed to be a compliment to her to describe the women of Herland as being like boys--does that show her opinion or the limited way
...more
~Bookishly
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
Being as this is feminist literature, and I also consider myself a feminist, I feel like I should have enjoyed this more than I did. I'm going to come right out with the main criticism that I have for this book. I think there was way too much time spent focusing on the three male's that visited Herland, and their actual opinions of the women they found there. Also, the women have apparently been reproducing with thin air, having babies with a lack of men. I suppose I just found it bizarre.

Appare
...more
Travis Ammons
this little book should probably write a review about me. When I was in my early 20s I worked at half-price books. I found this book and put it in the fiction section as I thought it was fiction as a young man, properly so. Little did I know the true body of work the author of "The Yellow Wallpaper" had behind her before she wrote this wonderful novel.
Fast forward 20 years later - to my humbling, sad, little, Americanized midlife-(4 lack of a more accurately defining word)-crisis in 2012. I'm 4
...more
Robert Beveridge
Jan 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (Dover, 1909)

I always found it odd that Gilman, a prolific writer during her life, had become so obscure less than a century later as to be remembered for only a single short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." Now, having had the distinct displeasure of having read a second piece of Gilman's writing, I have to wonder if that obscurity isn't well-deserved.

Herland is everything that "The Yellow Wallpaper" is not. It is boring, overly expository, dry as dust, and most
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
For a feminist tale, this book spends an awfully disproportionate amount of time focusing on how the three male visitors to Herland view the women there. They deal with their misconceptions about women and allow the women to experiment with them in considering moving back to a bi-sexual society (they have been reproducing with the air, apparently, birthing babies without men.)

The problem with utopias is that there is little conflict. The women have a fully-functioning society with brilliant achi
...more
Pink
Sep 30, 2016 rated it liked it
This was fun. I think I've described it as HG Wells with feminism. My only real criticism is that it just ends. I wanted to know what happened next, but that's in the next book...
Silvana
Yet another classic SF that does not age well. It might be a feminist book but clearly meant for the period when it was published. The plot was simple: three American men went exploring and found a country where there were only women. One of the men was a sexist pig, the other two were also sexist in their own less aggressive ways. They interacted and learned a lot about the history of the women and so on and so forth.

I was initially intrigued with these women who apparently lost all their notio
...more
Fiona
Written in 1915, this utopian novel describes an isolated single gender society wherein the female inhabitants of 'Herland' reproduce via parthenogenesis; in Herland the greatness, capabilities, wisdom and potential of womanhood are all cultivated within an environment where war and conflict, poverty and pollution, crime, domination and disease have been eliminated. Charlotte Perkins Gilman very clearly, and somewhat cleverly and confidently for her time, uses the utopian nation/notion of 'Herla ...more
R
Mar 12, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy, fiction
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 exhibi
...more
Nicky
Nov 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Herland is... hm. Unfortunately bland, really. Charlotte Perkins Gilman seems to have set out to portray a utopian, perfect society of women that shows up all the faults and contradictions of the contemporary world. Unfortunately, that society seems so flat and lacking in individuality that I wouldn't want to be there. It also makes motherhood the pinnacle of a woman's being, something to long for.

I'm female-bodied and apparently possessed of the various bits you'd expect given that. I really, r
...more
Leah
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, classics, 2018
A world without Darcy...

Three young men are part of an expedition in some obscure unexplored corner of the planet when they hear rumours of a country where all the inhabitants are women. They don’t believe this, of course. Firstly, they’ve heard all about the birds and the bees and they know such a society couldn’t exist for more than one generation. But more importantly, they know that women are too silly and incompetent to run a whole country on their own. If the country exists at all, they de
...more
Melissa
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting early feminist novel about how a land of all woman might develop and how it might differ in both large and small ways from the world we know. In this story 3 men discover this remote and new land, and spend some time learning its language and customs, while also teaching them ours, with varying degrees of acceptance depending on their personalities.
Susan
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
Marsha
As compelling now as it was when first written, Gilman’s novel examines what it means to be male in an all-woman world, to be a woman unafraid and sure when confronted by men and whether true co-existence between the sexes is really possible. Without being particularly preachy, she presents a world in which women do cooperate with each other, in a utopia of peace and harmony, and how calmly they deal with the men who blunder into their world after over a century of being without men at all.

If th
...more
Heather Ordover
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-craftlit
My rating will make more sense if you read the TOC for Almroth Wright's (lovely, harumph) book called "The Unexpurgated Examination of Woman Sufferage" (or some such drivel). In those lilnes you'll read, in reverse, the outline for Gilman's 12 chapter novel. Hers is a calm, focused refutation of his text, but in fiction form.

Knowing that makes the book make SO much more sense! That, and going through it on the CraftLit podcast.
Tomislav
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote this early feminist utopian novel for serial publication in her monthly magazine The Forerunner. She came from a prominent New England family, but personally fell on hard times through the separation of her parents, and a dubious first marriage. Gilman became affiliated with Edward Bellamy’s Nationalist movement, and used this story to promote her own feminist and socialist beliefs. The novel was not published in book form until 1979. I alternated reading between a ...more
Amanda
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I knew this was an Utopian novel going in. If you've followed any of my reviews for a while, you know that Utopian novels are not my favorites. I probably lean more towards Dystopian because that seems more realistic (Am I jaded? Because I think I might be).

I'm always up to listen to novels I normally wouldn't listen to if Heather Ordover from the Craftlit podcast is handling them. She goes out of her way to do research to complement and expand every book and it's a sheer pleasure to learn from
...more
Carolyn Klassen
Main thoughts - - love Charlotte Perkins Gilman and this doesn't change that. However, this was too much social commentary with not enough novel to make it lie flat. It crinkles, rubs, chafes. It becomes a bit of a trite form to write these thoughts down. Why not just write a manifesto, memoir, or essay? The idea was amazing and in the novel parts, it works. Writing was fabulous as I've come to expect from her. She was progressive for the time though transphobic and heteronormative ideas prevail ...more
Robert Greenberger
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
I will be teaching Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" to my 11th graders next week, so when I learned the amazing CraftLit podcast was going to tackle Gilman's utopian novel, I decided to give it a listen.

First of all, there's no traditional story. No real conflict or climax, no real rising action to speak of. Instead, a trio of male archetypes find a small land of woman. For the last 2000 years they have been cut off from the world and have succeeded entirely on their own, withou
...more
Layne
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: taught
This is the book that most of my currently-writing dissertation chapter is about. It's about a utopian nation in Sough America populated entirely by women, who have mutated so that they reproduce asexually. These three male explorers decide to "discover" the land, and they get captured and educated in the superiority of Herland over "Ourland."
The best reason to read this if you're not writing a dissertation on it is that it is really funny, pretty much unintentionally. Gilman had a lot of beefs
...more
Sandy
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "Herland" is a lost-world fantasy in the Haggardian tradition with a decided twist: It functions primarily as a discourse on the supposed but not necessarily actual differences between the two sexes, and as a feminist screed in the utopian genre. Written in 1915, the novel was initially serialized in the pages of Gilman's own monthly magazine, "The Forerunner," a publication whose main agenda was to further Gilman's ideas of feminism and socialism. We are introduced to ...more
Red Harvey
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Three young students set out to explore a legend shared by the locals of the foreign country that they are residing in. The legend is of a hidden community comprised solely of women. Since the three students are also young men, their interest is more than piqued.

All three men have different views on women, ranging from the extreme to the sympathetic. Jeff is the biologist, and an idolizer of women. The narrator, Van, stays neutral on most every subject as a sociology major. Terry is a geologist
...more
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English Casual Bo...: What Herland, Greek tragedies and Angela Merkel have in common 1 15 Apr 21, 2017 12:42AM  
Motherhood is Masturbation 4 56 May 18, 2016 01:36AM  
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Who's on the Cover? 1 12 Jun 16, 2015 01:09PM  
Classic Science F...: Women's Movement SF Classic 3 26 Dec 12, 2013 02:59PM  

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman, also known as Charlotte Perkins Stetson, was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, 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 li ...more

Other books in the series

The Herland Trilogy (3 books)
  • Moving the Mountain
  • With Her in Ourland

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