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Three Guineas

A Room of One's Own, The Years

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: James Thomson Biography to Hugh [Redwald] Trevor-Roper Baron Dacre Biography

V. Woolf's second feminist essay, published in 1938 (cf. A Room of One's Own); it grew from a lecture, ‘Professions for Women’ (1931), and from the early version of The Years. Writing a response to three requests for a guinea—one for preserving peace, one for helping women's education, and one for enhancing their professional opportunities—she evolves a startling comparison between Victorian patriarchy and fascism. Women, she says (or more narrowly, ‘the daughters of educated men’), are as alien to the propagandist, war-making, male-dominated modern world as they were oppressed in the Victorian home. They should form an ‘anonymous and secret Society of Outsiders’ which would challenge tyranny through ridicule and scepticism and a refusal to ‘join’. This utopian argument involves a wide-ranging attack on the cultural and educational establishment, the media, the Church, psychiatry, and science. Woolf's friends and critics alike took fright at the essay's radical stance and it was dismissed or neglected for many years before becoming an important influence on feminist thinking. See feminist criticism.

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