In fact, Lily never thinks that she paints because she is not beautiful
enough; she paints because she wants to paint, and she does not believe
the young man. Her painting is the triumphant last image of the book. And
Woolf presents the idea that women cannot paint as an offensive prejudice
though one that can damage women and sap their confidence--as it does
Lily's though she never lets it stop her. Read Woolf's prose on women
writers and artists. There is no place in all of Woolf where that notion is
treated as anything but ignorant.
And women have in fact written brilliantly. The 20th century in America
was a great movement of women's poetry. And Eliot, as it happens,
considered MM to be one of the major poets of her time--not just someone
who was just "not bad": "My conviction, for what it is worth, has remained
unchanged for the last fourteen years: that Miss Moore's poems form part
of the small body of durable poetry written in our time; of that small body of
writings, among what passes for poety, in which an original sensibility and
alert intelligence and deep feeling have been engaged in maintaining the life
of the English language." (Eliot, "Introduction" to Moore's _Selected
Poems_, 1934) You need not, of course, agree with Eliot on this, but its
about the highest praise he ever gave.
It is an absurd generalization to say women have not written well. It would
amaze all the readers of Austen, G. Eliot, the Brontes, Dickinson, Moore,
H. D., Woolf, Barnes (whom Eliot also praised and published), Stein, Rhys,
Morrison--I only mention obvious ones; I won't go back to Hildegarde or
Lady Mary Wortley Montague.
Date sent: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 22:11:15 EDT
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From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Definition of art
In a message dated 8/15/01 8:01:33 PM !!!First Boot!!!,
[log in to unmask] writes:
> Eliot, by the way, had his own answers, mainly that women could not
> really write and poetry should not be "feminized," though he very much
> admired and excepted Marianne Moore.
In "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolfe, this very sentiment, that women
can't write, was expressed by one the characters, a young, scholarly man
who was intent on his dissertation and who angered Lily, the single, woman
painter who possessed not beauty or allure and so lived to paint, but this
same man said that women can't paint either, which scared her. I mean,
she thought, I'm not beautiful and amusing enough, or rich enough, to
catch myself a decent husband; now I'm told I'm not telented enough to do
real art, so what do I have?
To be honest, albeit politically incorrect, women have not written that
well . . . certainly not in the poetry genre. Marianne Moore was not bad,
not exceptional, which is as positive as one can be on the subject. I
actually have a theory on this situation. Because women are able to
express emotion and thought in their "real" lives, there is not that
'thing' inside haunting them. That thing of course may generate great art
if put down on paper.