Tuesday, June 2

Book Review: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings

Title: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings

Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Pages: 240

Summary: Known primarily for her classic and haunting story "The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an enormously influential American feminist and sociologist. Her early-twentieth-century writings continue to inspire writers and activists today. This collection includes selections from both her fiction and nonfiction work.

In addition to the title story, there are seven short stories collected here that combine humour, anger, and startling vision to suggest how women's "place" in society should be changed to benefit all. The nonfiction selections are from Gilman's The Man-Made World: Our Androcentric Culture and her masterpiece, Women And Economics, which was translated into seven languages and established her international reputation as a theorist.

Also included in a delightful excerpt from Gilman's utopian novel, Herland, an acidly funny tale about three American male explorers who stumble into an all-female society and begin their odyssey by insisting, "This is a civilized country . . . there must be men."

Gilman's analyses of economic and women's issues are as incisive and relevant today as they were upon their original publication. This volume is an unprecedented opportunity to rediscover a powerful American writer.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I first read “The Yellow Wallpaper” in my women’s writers’ class in college, but that’s all we read of Gilman’s work and I wanted more. Her story was so powerful and thought provoking the first time I read it, I promised myself I’d come back to her to her writing some time. So I finally sat down and read this book which included other works by the author including two experts from her non-fiction collection.

The Yellow Wallpaper doesn’t lose its touch the second time around. It still has the same powerful message and showing how Gilman was ahead of her time in her aim to promote feminism and discuss issues surrounding what we now know as post-partum depression. One aspect of the story I found was how the wallpaper and its design represented the women before Gilman, who fought for feminist rights, the oppressed women before they ha voices, and how the tearing down of the wallpaper represents breaking barriers for women of today.

One of the other stories I really enjoyed was Herland. It was only a small glimpse of it, but it was enough for me to want to pick up the entire novel and check it out. Gilman has a talent for being able to promote feminist thought and theories, but still provide an entertain story for its readers. And Herland looks to be an exceptional piece of writing, with humour tied into it.

I also enjoyed the non-fictional side of the collection. Although I found that at times, I had a hard time following it, based on the fact, I haven’t been in the mood for non-fiction. I generally like reading non-fictional works, such as this and being able to discuss it with others. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought, but still enjoyed reading her thoughts on issues surrounding women in society of her time. She definitely seemed to be beyond her time (late 1800’s early 1900’s).

Would I recommend it to read: Yes I would recommend the book to read. At the very least read the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” it is a very powerful piece of writing, full of imagery and a woman who slowly goes mad after oppression from her husband and society. It’s worth reading the 20 some odd pages, and looking at a Gilman’s writing, who was above her time. This story will definitely pull you in and want you to look at her other works. Even if you’re not a big fan of feminist writing, I think the Yellow Wallpaper is still a worth while read.

What to read next: Herland. This just provides a tiny glimpse. It made me want to run out and get it, I' start there. Also, the Awakening by Choplin. I Saw that on LT's recommendations.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Classics Challenge, RYOB Challenge


5 comments:

  1. I'll definitely have to look for this book. I really want to read the short story, and the rest sounds very interesting too.

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  2. I read The Yellow Wallpaper when I first started college because a girl in my dorm insisted. I didn't really understand what I was reading about and had no one to guide me, and I wasn't a big reader back then. Since then, I've thought about it a lot and want to reread it.

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  3. I've read a lot about The Yellow Wallpaper, and have discovered that it's a very polarizing story. All the things I have heard about it make me very curious to read it, so I should try to do that soon. I also have a copy of Herland on my shelves that I keep glancing at curiously. I haven't read much commentary about it, but the premise of the book seems really interesting.

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  4. The Yellow Wallpaper definitely becomes a lot more powerful when you have a guide, or group discussion about it, because it has so much symbolism in it.

    You should check Herland out, it looks really amusing.

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  5. I read Herland a few years ago and I have it sitting on my "to be reread" shelf for the coming months. Now I'm all the more eager to do so! I don't remember a lot about it, hence the need for a reread, but I did recall the interesting perspective. I remember it being funny.

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