Before the Second World War and long before the second wave of feminism, Virginia Woolf argued that women's experience, particularly in the women's movement, could be the basis for transformative social change. Grounding Virginia Woolf's feminist beliefs in the everyday world, Naomi Black reclaims Three Guineas as a major feminist document. Rather than a book only about war, Black considers it to be the best, clearest presentation of Woolf's feminism.
Woolf's changing representation of feminism in publications from 1920 to 1940 parallels her involvement with the contemporary women's movement (suffragism and its descendants, and the pacifist, working-class Women's Co-operative Guild). Black guides us through Woolf's feminist connections and writings, including her public letters from the 1920s as well as "A Society," A Room of One's Own, and the introductory letter to Life As We Have Known It. She assesses the lengthy development of Three Guineas from a 1931 lecture and the way in which the form and illustrations of the book serve as a feminist subversion of male scholarship. Virginia Woolf as Feminist concludes with a discussion of the continuing relevance of Woolf's feminism for third-millennium politics.
Naomi Black is Professor Emerita, Political Science and Women's Studies, York University (Toronto) and Adjunct Professor, Women's Studies, Mount Saint Vincent University (Halifax). She is the author of Social Feminism, also from Cornell, coauthor of Canadian Women: A History and Feminist Politics on the Farm, and editor of Blackwell's Shakespeare Head Press edition of Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas.
What People are Saying About This
"Virginia Woolf's process of creating Three Guineas was notoriously long, complex, and scholarly. Naomi Black's book is deeply impressive in its command of that process and the role it played in Woolf's career. Virginia Woolf as Feminist is a book that Woolf scholars will value as a reference work on Three Guineas."
"Naomi Black has produced a wonderfully astute and compassionate exploration of Virginia Woolf's feminism. Analyses of Woolf's oeuvre have been too long monopolized by literary scholars focused on her novels or by biographers poking into her psychology and sexuality. Black's engaging and beautifully contextualized rereading of Woolf's key essay, Three Guineas, and the works that precede and surround it, is as welcome as it is overdue. The author, a leading feminist political theorist based in Canada and editor of a critical edition of Three Guineas, persuasively and powerfully reclaims Woolf's nonfiction contributions for the history of feminism and the history of political thought."
"Naomi Black provides a richly detailed account of how Woolf's most controversial feminist book, Three Guineas, was conceived, constructed, and received. Black's powers of historical recovery illuminate the central place of that work in Woolf's career and its continuing challenge to new generations of readers."
"As Woolf said,'the triumph of learning is that it leaves something done solidly forever.' We have here an account of all Woolf ever had to say, apart from her fiction, about feminism. And the significance of Three Guineas is established, in its entirety, now and ever more. An invaluable achievement."
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