Tag Archives: classics

Friday Reflections: A Room of One’s Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
-Virginia Woolf

These famous words, which form the premise of Ms. Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, have changed the way the world looks at Women and Fiction. The text is indeed a remarkable one, offering much insight into human nature, society, history (really, about so much more than I could do justice to in a single post). Reading it was a most thought-provocative experience for me 🙂

And I’d like to take that point which Ms. Woolf makes, about needing a room of one’s own to write fiction, for the sake of this Reflections post.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read Ms. Woolf’s piece – in fact, that way you could try a before & after exercise – write down how you feel about that first statement before reading her work, then read it, and comment on how you feel after you’ve read it!

Money & a Room of One’s Own

ImageHow do you feel about Ms. Woolf’s statement? Do you agree or disagree with it? (You might not even agree/disagree with it totally, perhaps only partially.)

Do you think it is irrelevant, or find it valid even in today’s world?

What do you feel she means by “money” and “a room of one’s own“?

From your personal experience as a writer (or artist of any kind), are you led to think of these (the “money” and “room”) in a very literal way? Or are they, to you, more symbolic than currency notes & four walls, a floor, and a ceiling to call your own studio?

Do you identify with the “woman” Ms. Woolf speaks of? If you do not, do you still identify with the statement – at least, the rest of it?

What does the creative mind need?

I read Ms. Woolf’s statement and I think of it in the context of creativity. Not necessarily in a feminist perspective, just in the perspective of unleashing creativity.

Does the act of creativity require financial security, as Ms. Woolf claims? There have been artists who strived to improve their art even in the poorest of financial conditions. But certainly, I thought, to not have to worry about making ends meet would be a relief, a burden off of one’s mind, so that one may concentrate on the act of creating and only that.

And, does one need “a room of one’s own”? What kind of space would that be? A physical space that offers quietude? And the space, in society, to think freely and let one’s thoughts glide, unimpeded. But this freedom was not granted at the time.

“Literature is open to everybody. I refuse to allow you, Beadle though you are, to turn me off the grass.
Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no
bolt, that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf

Rooms of our own

How do you feel about your own “money” and “room”? Do you feel like you’ve got everything you need to create (art)?

What do you feel are the issues the fields of literature and art face today – when it comes to whose words are read, and whose remain unread, or worse — unwritten? When it comes to whose voices are heard, and whose remain unheard, or worse — are silenced?

The world is a lot more open-minded than it was at the time of Ms. Woolf’s writing A Room of One’s Own. How much have things changed? Just taking a look at the blogosphere, we see an abundance of creative minds expressing themselves openly, with nothing to hinder them. In this world, where we certainly seem to have enough rooms of our own on the internet, who are the ones still without their freedom?

There’s a lot to write about – poems about writing, expressing, poems about being unexpressed, narratives about freedom…

So here I’ll sign off, leaving my fellow writers to their ruminations 🙂 and this request from Ms. Woolf:

“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Dig deep folks! Happy writing! 🙂

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Friday Reflections: The Stranger

So I’ve just finished reading a translation of L’Étranger by Albert Camus (at long last! I’ve been meaning to read it for ages). Rightly, William Boyd has said of the book:

One of those books that marks a reader’s life indelibly.

ImageThe Outsider (translated title) is the kind of book that leaves its mark on you.

Permanently.

Because it has something to say, something truly different and something that’s not easy for most people to accept. It has a lot of somethings to say, actually; about the society in which we live, about our preconceptions, about what we expect from others…

The book had me hooked.

The prose kept me flowing along with it, I didn’t want to stop myself from reading. But what really kept me going was how curious the character of Meursault is.

You want to know what happens to this man, this strange, strange man.

Friday Reflections: The Stranger

I first read a part of this work last year in college, in my French class. It wasn’t a translated version, so it was interesting to think about what the title could mean. Étranger could mean strangerforeigner, alienoutsider – any of these.

We only read a small portion of the text, only a couple of pages’ worth. My French teacher asked us what we thought Mr. Camus meant when he called the main character “L’Étranger”. We didn’t know much about who Meursault was, or what would happen to him, so we took guesses. My teacher had also given us a brief introduction on Existentialism, which helps one to understand Meursault’s narrative voice.

Having read the whole text now, and an Afterword by Mr. Camus himself, I have a much clearer idea.

But you needn’t have a clear idea, if you haven’t read it.

This Friday’s reflection is going to be about that word. L’Étranger.

Take its meaning in any sense you like.

Stranger. Outsider. Alien. Foreigner.

The next part is what you know is coming: write! 🙂

What can I write about?

Take those words as your prompts and write whatever comes to you. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the book or Meursault’s experience.

It could be about your own experience – perhaps you visited a foreign country once and felt like an “outsider”? Perhaps you’ve felt like a “stranger” to someone you’re supposed to be close to. Or maybe you want to write about aliens invading the earth. Maybe, aliens save earth from devastation!

There’s a lot of scope for this particular topic – hundreds of books have been written about immigration, cultural differences and such. Sometimes we feel like foreigners even at the place where we supposedly “belong”.

The small details

Explore as deep as you can, try to write with as much detail as possible. Particularly if you’re writing from the perspective of a “foreigner”, an “outsider” – pay attention to what your narrative takes advantage of; would a foreigner react this way to this detail? Or would it stand out more? Would it be unusual, unfamiliar? Would he/she understand what this is? How would they react to it most naturally?

If you’ve read L’Étranger

If you have read the book, you could always write an essay or a poem as a response to it. You could even write a whole book in response. There’s so much I felt like responding to throughout my reading. The opening lines themselves are so compelling!

And I really dwelt on this line, which Meursault says about the death of his mother,

It’s not my fault.

Questions you could ask yourself: Have you ever met anyone like Meursault, ever before? Was he/she judged in a negative way? How did you feel about what happened to Meursault finally? Did he deserve it, did you pity him? Why or why not?

A few last words

Hope this provided a lot of food for thought, and ultimately, something for your pen as well! Always remember, there are no constraints – you never have to stay within the walls of the prompt I might’ve inadvertently created. If the prompt means something totally different to you, explore that!

I sign off here, so, happy writing, everyone! 🙂