Friday, May 3, 2013

Mental Space of One's Own

You know how there is always some great book or work that you have never read, feel you ought to read, never quite get around to reading? Some work that everyone around you has read, so that you are reluctant to admit that you never did read? I have in fact read Moby Dick, Ulysses, War and Peace, Tristram Shandy, and Part 2 of Faust (auf Deutsch), but until last week I never had read A Room of One's Own. I'd seen so many references that I supposed I had already got its goodness, basically. Wrong Wrong Wrong!! I had utterly forgotten how sly Virginia Woolf is, how deftly she builds up the bits of evidence, emotional as well as physical, that will lead you cleanly grievously to her conclusion. I had never heard anyone allude to the Manx cat, a perfectly good cat, complete even without a tail, that strolled calmly through the quad of the men's college where she was lunching. I had certainly never heard anyone mention the poor dinner of the women's college, and how it must contribute to the scope of work that can be produced. And when she mildly but inexorably adduces the circumstances that must obtain in order for a woman to sit herself down and gather her thoughts and have the mental room to let them mingle and speak--well! No wonder this work is a banner and a mantra for women who write. Just from reading it, I feel that space has been cleared in my own crowded head.