Well, last month they announced a year-long challenge/celebration called the Women's Classic Literature Event. And I'm joining in!
Here are my answers to their survey about this event:
1. Introduce yourself. Tell us what you are most looking forward to in this event.
I'm Louise, misanthropic librariosaur, and I'm really looking forward to purposefully reading more works by women! I don't usually pay much attention to this sort of thing, so it will be an interesting exercise.
I consider myself a feminist, but I didn't really think much about the representation of women authors when I was making my Classics Club list. Or authors of color, LGBTQ authors, authors with disabilities... I wasn't really thinking about diversity or equal representation at all, which I regret. I don't want to miss out on good stuff just because I didn't bother to look far beyond the usual classic lit canon.
2. Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not?
So far I've only read 5 titles on my Classics Club list that were by women, and 2 of those were read a long time ago -- I'm re-reading them and reviewing them for the challenge. Classics in general? Some, yes, but I'm struggling to think of very many... Harper Lee, Pearl S. Buck, Charlotte Brontë, and Madeleine L'Engle come to mind.
3. Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works.
There are several on my list that I'm looking forward to reading, but I think the one that I'm most looking forward to is Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Can you believe I've never read anything by this author? I'm embarrassed.
Virginia Woolf was born in 1882 in England. She's well known for several works, made all the more intriguing by her early 20th century feminism, lesbian themes, and struggle with mental illness. Other than my choice for this list, Orlando and A Room of One's Own are quite popular.
4. Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her. (Without spoilers, please!)
The first character that came to my mind was Lorna, titular character of R. D. Blackmore's 1869 "romance" Lorna Doone. Poor Lorna was nothing more than an object to be sought after in this story. My full review of this book was published this past May.
5. Favorite classic heroine? (Why? Who wrote her?)
It's hard to say at this point, as I haven't been particularly "grabbed" by any of the main female characters in any of the books on my Classics Club list I've read so far -- although I really haven't gotten very far through that list, so.
I do remember enjoying Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, though it's been so long since I read it that I'm not sure if I really enjoyed her character in the book or if I've somehow confused the book character with the movie version. And Scarlett doesn't quite fit the mold of heroine, does she? Perhaps that's why I liked her.
6. We’d love to help clubbers find great titles by classic female authors. Can you recommend any sources for building a list? (Just skip this question if you don’t have any at this point.)
- Classic or Best-Selling Books by Women Authors (20th & 21st Centuries) from the Utica Public Library
- Lit Chicks: Classic Fiction by Women from the San José Public Library
- Banned and Challenged books from the Radcliff Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century from the American Library Association
- 9 Classic Novellas by Women You Can Read in a Day from The Bustle
- Books that Shaped America, 1900 to 1950 from the Library of Congress
- Books that Shaped America, 1950 to 2000 from the Library of Congress
7. Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event. (Again, skip over this if you prefer not to answer.)
This is tough to answer! Since I'd love to see more SFF love in the Classics Club, I'm going to recommend ...
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
- Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
(... no, that last one isn't on my list, but I must have read it dozens of times as a kid).
8. Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the new year starts?
I'm waiting for the new year because I'm trying to wrap up a couple of other reading challenges right now. I really need to get back up to speed with my Classics Club challenge, so this seems like the perfect motivation!
9. Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list?
Both? I'm selecting specifically from titles from my main Classics Club list, but I haven't made up my mind about which ones or how many yet.
Here, I've pulled out the works by women (that I haven't reviewed for the challenge yet) on my current list:
- Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
- Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
- The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
- Passing by Nella Larsen
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
- The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
10. Are you pulling to any particular genres? (Letters, journals, biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, etc?)
The works by women on my list are fairly varied, but it seems like they're mostly novels from the early to mid 20th century.
11. Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women?
Again... not really, because I think have a decent variety to choose from, but about half seem to be from the past century or so by authors in America or Europe.
12. Do you hope to host an event or readalong for the group? No worries if you don’t have details. We’re just curious!
Nah. I'm not usually into big blog events or obligations. But if something strikes my fancy I might sign up as a participant.
13. Is there an author or title you’d love to read with a group or a buddy for this event? Sharing may inspire someone to offer.
Hm... that's an interesting thought. I might be interested in reading Gone With the Wind along with someone, especially someone who hasn't read it before. It would make for an interesting conversation, I think.
14. Share a quote you love by a classic female author — even if you haven’t read the book yet.
“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.” - Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea
15. Finally, ask the question you wish this survey had asked, and then answer it.
I can't really think of a question that I wish had been asked! Instead, I made a pie chart:
That's the author gender representation of my current Classics Club list. Only a third of the authors of my chosen books are women -- not as bad as a feared, but not particularly close to fair either.
I hope lots of Classics Club folks participate in this event next year. It promises to be very interesting!