Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Fire Was Hot Within Her

Jane Gallop's assertion that the burden of sexual difference is borne by women alone is a concept aptly illustrated by Virginia Woolf's well - known image of Judith Shakespeare. Judith, trapped by her gender, is denied the free use of her limbs and her talent; her brother Will is the one whose "incandescent, unimpeded" work has risen "to the universal human, beyond gender" :
" . . . Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her . . . She died young - alas, she never wrote a word. . . . Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word . . . still lives . . . in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. . . . For my belief is that if we live another century or so - I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals - and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting-room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves . . . if we face the fact . . . that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality [i.e., "the universal human, beyond gender"] and not only to the word of men and women [the world of "sexual difference"], then . . . the dead poet who was Shakespeare's [imaginary] sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. . . . she would come if we worked for her, and so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while" (118).
concluding paragraph
from A Room of One's Own
by Virginia Woolf


You can read more about Virginia Woolf,
body image, and gender bias on my current post

~ "Room, Board, and Body" ~

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker:
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Plus related posts on

Try to See It, Try to Feel It: The Body in the Text ~ Part 1
Try to See It, Try to Feel It: The Body in the Text ~ Part 2
A Girl and Her Book

And previously on

Throwback Letter to Editor
Too Beautiful to Go on a Diet
Weighing In
The Student Body in the Text

Favorite Room of One's Own quotation:
" . . . could she have freed her mind from hate and fear
and not heaped it with bitterness and resentment,
the fire was hot within her
" (63).

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