Review: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

A Room of One's Own

Date Started: 6th January 2019
Date Finished: 19th January 2019
Time taken to read: 14 days
Rating: 2.5 stars

But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction – what has that got to do with a room of one’s own?

A Room of One’s Own is an essay written by Virginia Woolf when he was asked to explore women in relation to fiction. Woolf ultimately widens the question to how circumstance and society affects a woman within the creative industry – set against the then contemporary setting of the 1920’s.

I read this essay as part of a Goodreads book group (Our Book Journey) – it is not something I would ordinarily pick up, but I think it is important to step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. You never know when you may find something you love that was unexpected. Unfortunately, this was not the case with this essay and I think that reflected my overall enjoyment. I do not ordinarily gravitate to non-fiction or essays/essay collections.

I will freely admit I especially struggle with anything classified as classics due to the challenges with the language often used. I love plot and character so literary fiction and classics is not typically high on my priority list as I find the writing typically requires a lot of analysis in order to understand what the author means. The historically contemporary language of classics just doesn’t work for me generally. However, there are exceptions to this and I hoped the subject matter may improve my reading experience with this.

Personally, I really wanted to love this, because I am very passionate about feminism and was interested to see what an early work in the area explored. I tried not to critique the substance of the work on more modern issues, that would not have been identified at that time in history. A lot of modern-day works will be based on the foundations of this essay, and for that reason I appreciate the importance of the work. The moments when Woolf really focused on the idea of patriarchy, the then contemporary roles for women and the struggle for women at the time to be creatives due to the lack of funding I did enjoy.

I felt that there were quotes and snippets from the essays that were really powerful and made great statements – whenever one of those moments came up, I would get excited that maybe we were really getting into the meat of the paper. Often then we would move back to something that I struggled to connect to. Then we would go back into exploring an issue on the periphery of the subject and my interest would wane.

The opening on the essay focused heavily on a formal dinner and the food served, meaning early on I really struggled to connect with what was going to be explored. Though I later understood that the connection was in relation to money, I think this wrong footed me early on and that was when I struggled to reengage. I think thought that set the tone for my experience, and I only wish I could have enjoyed this more.

For now, I will stick to my feminist articles that are simpler text but more complex conversations within feminism, including intersectionality and non-binary experiences.

TLDR? An early important essay pertaining to feminism that is starting to show its age in 2019.

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