Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A Room of One's Own: Rachel Cusk on Women Writers


From the 2009 past - Rachel Cusk writes about Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir in The Guardian

"When Virginia Woolf said that a woman needed a room of her own and money of her own to write fiction she appeared to be alluding to a female future where possession – property – equalled words as inevitably as dispossession, in the past, had equalled silence. A woman with a room and money will be free to write – but to write what? In A Room of One's Own Woolf asserts two things: first, that the world – and hence its representations in art – is demonstrably male; and second, that a woman cannot create art out of a male reality. Literature, for most of its history, was a male reality.

"...it is the masculine values that prevail . . . This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room. A scene in a battle-field is more important than a scene in a shop – everywhere and much more subtly the difference of value persists."

I think there is a relevance to photography here - the way in which dark images of chaos and destruction are  venerated in certain branches of photography, and how quiet images of stillness and tranquillity are venerated in others.

Rachel Cusk is well-known in the UK for writing books, especially a bad-mother book. She's also known in the West Country for being dismissive about the book group she was part of ( see Rachel Clusk's article on the book group) and the (possibly unfair - and it's possibly unfair because I'm possibly making it up) suggestion by members of the book group that perhaps Cusk might consider that it was a room of one's own Virginia Woolf was talking about, not 6 rooms (and only in London) with a couple by the beach on St Barts (see letters from a member).

And here is her bad-mother book - A life's Work. And here are Women's reactions to a life's work

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