More Than <em>A Room</em> and <em>Three Guineas</em>: Understanding Virginia Woolf’s Social Thought
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AbstractThis paper begins with a brief survey the basic arguments of interest to feminist social thinkers and activists that are found explicitly in Room of One’s Own (1929), Three Guineas (1938) and other essays. It then turns to insights provided by Woolf’s fiction, which helps us understand, illustrate and generalize the themes of the essays. The following part outlines the usefulness of Woolf’s diaries, which both provide a rich database of personal acquaintances and experiences that have become the content of her thinking. The diaries are helpful in developing our understanding that Woolf’s socioeconomic though does not merely attack male patriarchy in favor of gender equality. They contain important examples showing that Woolf despised social elitism among women as among men, and that some of the role models for women in her essays and novels were actually played by men in her life, notably young men who became emotionally and physically damaged in war. Moreover, in her diaries, which span the period 1915-1941 (Bell 1997), Woolf demonstrates adherence to a theory of value rooted in provisioning, which differs from classical, neoclassical and Marxist theories. I conclude in the final section that we can only gain a thorough understanding of the importance of Virginia Woolf’s social thought if our study incorporates her fiction and diaries.