A women’s literature

Woolf is calling for the creation of an as-yet-unrealized form of feminine literature, or the expression of poetry, which circumstances have denied women the creation of. Woolf’s descriptions are suggestive rather than proscriptive. I think her own emphasis on erudition is part of her desire to explain women’s literature in relation to pre-existing literary traditions:

“Indeed, since freedom and fullness of expression are of the essence of the art, such a lack of tradition, such a scarcity and inadequacy of tools, must have told enormously upon the writing of women. Moreover, a book is not made of sentences laid end to end, but of sentences built, if an image helps, into arcades or domes…. There is no reason to think that the form of the epic or of the poetic play suits a woman any more than the sentence suits her. …Yet who shall say that even now ‘the novel’… that even this most pliable of all forms is rightly shaped for her use?”

This notion of feminine art is difficult to reconcile with the excerpt from The Androgynous Vision, and Woolf’s call for an androgynous mind which “does not think specially or separately of sex.” (608) This state of being seems to presuppose an environment in which one faces no gender-based oppression (although this is not explicitly stated). Thus, it seems to remain impossible for women, but not for men.