Mister Wu Steven Deon Wu English High School
 
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Honoré Daumier, Bluestocking Series
Roughly....

The Androgynous Mind / Women &  Fiction 
  / Conclusion

          Attention on London 
      1. recapitulation: the stream, the taxi-cab
      2. Unity of the Mind
      3. Coleridge and "the androgynous mind"
      4. Criticism of Mr.A's treatment of an     
                                                                      intimate scene
                                                                 5. mention of the Italian Futurists
                                                                 6. Mary Beaton arrives at an explicit 
                                                                        thesis for her article or speech on 
                                                                        Women and Fiction
                                                                 7. Two Criticisms anticipated
                                                                 8.  The Idea of Reality,  The function of 
                                                                       literature and Things in themselves
                                                                 9. Conclusion


                                           Discussion  Questions

1. What is Mary Beaton's interpretation of Coleridge's theory of the androgynous mind?

2. What is Mary Beaton's main complaint about Mr.A's treatment of a scene of intimacy between Alan and Phoebe?

3. What is Mary Beaton's explict thesis for her article or speech on the topic of "Women and Fiction"? (P.104, Harcourt edition)

4. What does Virginia Woolf mean when she says, "for in a question like this truth is only to be had by laying together many varieties of error"?

5. Is Woolf contradicting herself? She writes, 

         All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this  
         claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the 
         private-school stage of human existence where there are "sides," and 
         it is necessary for one side to be another...Praise and blame and alike
         mean nothing. No, delightful as the pastime of measuring may be, it is 
         the most futile of all occupations, and to submit to the decrees of 
         the measurers the most servile of attitudes. So long as you write 
         what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters 
         for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. (P.106)

In the prior chapter, she had Mary Beat reflect,

        There is no mark on the wall to measure the precise height of women. 
        There are no yard measures, neatly divided into the fractions of an inch, 
        that one can lay against the qualities of a good mother or the devotion of 
        a daughter, or the fidelity of a sister, or the capacity of a house-keeper. 
        Few women even now have been graded at the universities; the great 
        trials of the professions, army and navy, trade, politics and diplomacy 
        have hardly tested them. They remain even at this moment almost 
        unclassified. (P.85)

6. What are the two criticisms Woolf anticipates at the end of the chapter?

7. For Woolf, what is the use or function of literature such as Lear, Emma, or La Recherche du Temps Perdu?
 


Comments

Allen Su
12/07/2012 5:28am

Androgynous, is a theory that aimed to offer men and women the chance to write, without the influence of consciousness of their sex. In other words, each mind has male and female elements.

[Coleridge certainly did not mean, when he said that a great mind is androgynous, that it is a mind that has any special sympathy with women; a mind that takes up their cause or devotes itself to their interpretation. Perhaps the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind. He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided. In fact one goes back to Shakespeare’s mind as the type of the androgynous, of the manwomanly mind, though it would be impossible to say what Shakespeare thought of women.]- (Page 114)

Jeffrey S. Zhao
12/08/2012 3:01am

6.
First, Woolf acknowledges that the reader may question her character's "failings and foibles." She contends that she did not comment on the merits and intelligence of male writers and female writers directly, and this need to assert status or titles is the center of her criticism.
Then she says that readers may question her as the author. Even though she talks about the industrializing London and the gradually decaying literature and society, she puts great emphasis on the material needs of a writer. This seems like a controversy. She then asserts that even though great literature and great minds come from the minds themselves and the ability to rise above circumstances, people also need basic amenities. Sometimes, opportunities are just limited by these material constraints. A great mind may not have the opportunity to get the necessary education. A impoverished writer may not have a proper setting to express her writing. She concludes: "Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time. . . . Women, then, have not had a dog's chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one's own."

Coco Chang
12/09/2012 1:34am

Mary Beaton’s main complaint about Mr. A’s treatment of a scene of intimacy between Alan and Pheobe is that the male character is very strong while the female character is very weak. The sentence “… the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter ‘I’ all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman” shows that the woman, Pheobe, is a very weak character hidden under the male character, Alan (115). The dominance of ‘I’ (Alan) was too strong. Mary Beaton think that Mr. A wrote about the intimacy between Alan and Pheobe as a protest. Mr A does it as a protest “against the equality of the other sex by asserting his own superiority” (117).

VT
12/10/2012 5:30am

7. On page 127, Woolf expresses two key ideas: the first is the idea of reality; the second is the purpose of reading fiction. In this question, we shall focus on the second idea.

Woolf writes, “Now the writer… has the chance to live more than other people in the presence of this reality. It is his business to find it and collect it and communicate it to the rest of us.” (127) The writer must have integrity in his/her writing. Woolf describes the duty of the writer here as to ‘communicate’ and give ‘the presence of reality’ to others. The purpose of reading fiction, therefore, is to obtain “a curious couching operation on the senses” and to “[see] more intensely afterwards.” (127) Reading fiction such as the three books listed above may allow readers to live life more intensely. Woolf wants readers to “live in the presence of reality” and have “an invigorating life.” (128)

Jon Guo
12/14/2012 6:03am

When Coleridge said that “a great mind is androgynous,” he did not mean that literally. Coleridge meant that “the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind” because the mind of the male, as held by Mary, will always hold male values, and therefore be bias in writing, and the mind of the female accordingly. Coleridge means that through the ignorance of sex by the mind, writing would become something that both men and women can produce, “something naturally creative, incandescent, and undivided.” Mary, after pondering about what the problem for women writers is, realizes that because what women can achieve holds no merit in what men believe is worth achieving, for example “the fidelity of a sister, the faithfulness for a husband.” In order to get over this problem, like a barrier that separates two populations, the wall must be torn down, and the notion of sexes must be ignored in order for a writer to truly write. That is what Coleridge meant when he said “a great mind is androgynous.”

Maria :)
12/15/2012 2:28am

6. At the end of chapter 7, Woolf anticipates two criticisms from the readers.
First, she anticipates that the readers would criticize her for stressing “too much of the importance of material things.” (p.106) Those readers, according to Woolf, would base their criticisms on that writers’ spirit is more important than their material capability; and that “great poets have often been poor men.” (p.106) As response to these criticisms, actually to her anticipation to possible criticisms, she provides a reference to a Professor of Literature, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. He writes: “It may seem a brutal thing to say, and it is a sad thing to say: but, as a matter of hard fact, the theory that poetical genius bloweth where it listeth, and equally in poor and rich, holds little truth. As a matter of hard fact, nine out of those twelve were University men…to get the best education England can give. As a matter of hard fact… These are dreadful facts, but let us face them…the poor poet has not in these days, nor has had for two hundred years, a dog’s chance…” (p.107) Woolf farther states: “Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom.” (p.108) In fact, in her book, Woolf never states that women cannot write without money, but money is an important factor to consider for women to write – an undeniable fact. Moreover, Woolf adds that social changes, due to two wars – European War and WWI – as examples, gave women more opportunities as she states: “…have opened the doors to the average woman some sixty years later, these evils are in the way to be bettered.” (p.108)
Second, Woolf anticipates that the readers would question why she would value writing by women when this task “requires so much efforts.” (p.108) (Well, didn’t Judith kill herself for losing “sanity to certainty” in the end?) She explains that her motives in doing so are “partly selfish”; she simply likes reading. Then, she adds that her motives are “not altogether selfish.” (p.109) She suggests that it may be human instincts to desire good books, and that “good writers, even if they show every variety of human depravity, are still good human beings.” (p.109) She farther points out that fiction sharpens one’s senses, and thus allows one to live more intensely. She states: “Now the writer, as I think, has the chance to live more than other people in the presence of this reality.” (p.110) More or less, the major purpose of writing is to communicate; link the readers to the rest of the world. To fulfill this job, a writer has to see things, hear things, collecting facts scattered all over the place. Thus, writing benefits oneself. By urging one to write, Woolf is “asking you to live in the presence of reality, an invigorating life, it would appear, whether one can impart it or not.” (p. 110) – How charming words?
In the end, these criticisms do not matter much. After all, “praise and blame alike mean nothing… So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters…” (p.106) – Again, how charming words?

Phillip Lin
12/15/2012 4:42am

1. She believes that androgynous mind gives the people a harmonious balance between the male and female. She stated that an androgynous mind could bring people creativity on writing and new thoughts. She thinks a person with androgynous mind is "naturally creative, incandescent, and undivided" like Shakespeare's. She stated "He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided." (pg 114) By looking at this quote, we can see that she thinks an androgynous mind can give writers an unbiased and perfect state of writing.

Allen Su
12/15/2012 5:24pm

“For in a question like this truth is only to be had by laying together many varieties of error”; it means a question like “whether it is possible for women can write good fiction or poetry” shouldn’t be blamed on one error. On the other hand, be blamed on multiple of errors, since the origin of error began with social inequalities such as unfair education, social status, and wealth etc. She stated, “that it is necessary to have five hundred a year and a room with a lock on the door if you are to write fiction or poetry.”(Page 121)

Clarence
12/16/2012 6:58am

Coleridge certainly did not mean, when he said that a great mind is androgynous, that it is a mind that has any special sympathy with women; a mind that takes up their cause or devotes itself to their interpretation. Perhaps the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind. He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided. In fact one goes back to Shakespeare’s mind as the type of the androgynous, of the manwomanly mind, though it would be impossible to say what Shakespeare thought of women.(Pg 114)

Androgynous:
To have the characteristics or nature of both male and female

Virginia Woolf believes that Coleridge believes in the androgynous mind containing more possibilities that normal people don't have. He goes with the idea that the androgynous mind is creative, and transmits emotions well like mentioned in the below quote (taken from the above quote). "He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative," Coleridge believes that one having the androgynous mind won't draw a distinct line between men and women that easily nor harshly, but may be more accepting to the ideas that both sexes give. With the minds of either one of the two sexes, the values are different, the barriers that keep the two sex from merging ideas lie in their different values they hold dear, but a androgynous mind have a low or maybe even no barrier when it comes to the merging of ideas and values. So Virginia Woolf thinks Coleridge believes that the androgynous mind is the key to the merging of the two sex's value, and a greater form gate to better literary pieces.

Eric Jiang
12/17/2012 7:56am

1. Virginia Woolf thinks that the androgynous mind makes people treat male and females equally. She thinks that this type of mind will have a equal and unbiased view on different genders. She sees the androgynous mind as a mind of creativity, a mind that can bring new ideas to the world through their communications. The androgynous mid is “naturally creative, incandescent, and undivided”. This is where Woolf states that the mind is creative and unbiased. Undivided means no biased views towards different genders. Woolf describes this creative and unbiased writing similar to ones of shake spears.

Kevin Xuan
12/19/2012 4:30am

6. The first criticism Virginia Woolf anticipates is that there is "no opinion has been expressed upon the comparative merits of the sexes even as writers". (Woolf 102) In the novel, Virginia Woolf described a lot of information about authors such as Jane Austen, Mr. A, George Eliot and many others, but she never said about her own opinions. However, she said that she purposely done it. She believed that "it's far more important to know how much money women have and how many rooms than to ... put people into classes and fix caps on their heads and letters after their names." (Woolf 102) To her, she didn't think that superiority and inferiority should exist. She thought that opinions are not really important. People just need to follow their own will to write rather than knowing other people's opinions. "So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters." (Woolf 102)
Second criticism Woolf anticipates is that "you (readers) may object that I (Virginia Woolf) have made too much of the importance of material things." (Woolf 103) She was referring "material things" to the money to get a room and write. However, she objected that "intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time" (Woolf 104) She believed that the obstacle that blocks women to write is money. Women actually have the intelligence to write. For example, Judith Shakespeare has actually the same knowledge as that of William Shakespeare. However because women were poor, Judith didn't have the opportunity, and that's why she was not famous in modern days. Almost every problem, despite emotions, can be solved by using money.If she did not talk about money, Virginia Woolf believed that women can actually never be successful.


Comments are closed.

    Other Short Pieces 
        by Virginia Woolf

    Blue Stockings Society

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    Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827), Breaking Up of the Blue Stocking Club.
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    Newnham College, Cambridge
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    More on Judith
    "...I think we are on track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen..."
                                                                                                                                

                          --Virginia Woolf

    Westminster Abbey

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    Poet's Corner
    Note: See if you can find Woolf. 
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    Dorothy Osborne, Lady Temple (1627–1695)
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    Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle
    "Women live like Bats or Owls, labour like Beasts, and die like Worms..."
                  --Duchess of Newcastle
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    Anne Finch, née Kingsmill, Countess of Winchilsea
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    Aphra Behn
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    Cicely Isabel Fairfield
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    Florence Nightingale
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    Sappho

Mister Wu Steven Deon Wu English High School