Sunday, 30 December 2012

Non-Fiction Reads: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

 “Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
- Virginia Woolf, A Room Of One's Own

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf questions the mentality of the herd and the bovine behaviour and attitude meted out towards women down the ages. Written in 1929, it is a series of essays that Woolf had prepared for lectures at two colleges for women at Cambridge: Newnham College and Girton College. This series focuses on women and fiction and the contribution to literature by several female writers such as Jane Austen, Aphra Behn, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Anne Finch, George Eliot, Countess of Winchilsea and Rebecca West.

Woolf’s had said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  This statement holds true till this date. It rings true in all spheres of life if a woman desires to be individualistic and is gifted. Ironically, she had no formal education because her father, Sir Leslie Stephen was of the belief that formal academic education was meant for boys. Emerging from a patriarchal world or a world that favoured men, she went on to become a celebrated writer way ahead of her time and was a hallmark of brilliance. While she lectured the female students at these colleges about the relevance of their formal education, she hinted at how they or their relevance in society would be held inane in a society that was solely lumpen world of bigots.

Woolf touched upon the basic truth that is timeless – ‘the effect of poverty on the mind’ and ‘the effect of tradition and of the lack of tradition upon the mind of a writer’.

(Review by Kabita Sonowal)

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