A Room Of One's Own

You fall in love with Virginia Woolf as you read this -- so funny, so wise, so humane. The argument is a simple one: only when women can afford a room of their own will they be able to write good fiction. What interests me particularly is Woolf's idea of what good fiction is. She thinks patriarchy disfigures the writing of women of talent -- the bitterness it provokes makes the author impose herself on her work. The novel becomes a piece of 'self-expression' rather than art. And what makes fiction art? The ability Shakespeare and Jane Austen had, of removing themselves from their work, and letting their characters speak for themselves.

This poses a problem for me. My two favourite novelists are James Joyce and George Eliot, and what I like about them is precisely that they put so much of themselves into the stories they write. In terms of graphic novels too, what I have most responded to is autobiographical work: Blankets, Fun Home, Maus (although I wouldn't really want to read the latter again). I'm sure that if I ever do write any kind of fiction, I would naturally gravitate towards this kind of brutally honest, redemptively embarrasing stuff. Would it be bad art as a result? For me, it is the kind of art that moves me most.

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