En lisant Virginia Woolf lire: un torrent de conscience féministe

I opened it. Indeed, it was delightful to read a man’s writing again. It was so direct, so straightforward after the writing of women. It indicated such freedom of mind, such liberty of person, such confidence in himself. One had a sense of physical well-being in the presence of this well-nourished, well-educated, free mind, which had never been thwarted or opposed, but had had full liberty from birth to stretch itself in whatever way it liked. All this was admirable. But after reading a chapter or two a shadow seemed to lie across the page. it was a straight dark bar, a shadow shaped something like the letter ‘I’. One began dodging this way and that to catch a glimpse of the landscape behind it. Whether that was indeed a tree or a woman walking I was not quite sure. Back one was always hailed to the letter ‘I’. One began to be tired of ‘I’. Not but what this ‘I’ was a most respectable ‘I’; honest and logical; as hard as a nut, and polished for centuries by good teaching and good feeding. I respect and admire that ‘I’ from the bottom of my heart. But–here I turned a page or two, looking for something or other–the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter ‘I’ all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman. But…she has not a bone in her body, I thought, watching Phoebe, for that was her name, coming across the beach. Then Alan got up and the shadow of Alan at once obliterated Phoebe.

Donc, j’ai lu To the lighthouse de Virginia Woolf. Si Agnès Varda a fait ce qui me manquait chez Bergman, Virginia Woolf, elle, m’a donné en quelque sorte ce manque chez Proust (il n’y aucune intériorité féminine chez Proust. Zéro. Enfin on sait qu’elle existe mais on ne peut jamais la connaître. Deal with it.)

Je voudrais cependant parler plus particulièrement d’une autre œuvre, son essai A room of one’s own, publié en 1929. La grande réussite de cet essai, c’est que Woolf choisit d’argumenter en représentant sa conscience féministe qui regarde le monde en cherchant ce qu’elle pourra bien dire à une conférence sur le thème « Women and Fiction » et ne cesse de se heurter aux manifestations du patriarcat à chacun de ses pas. Pour décrire le problème des femmes dans son rapport à la littérature, Woolf choisit de décrire un parcours de pensée où le patriarcat s’immisce sans cesse, où il est inévitable, où il suscite frustration, colère, tristesse, émotions qui sont au cœur de son argumentation, et lui donnent une puissance et une force singulières.

Ce parcours de conscience est justifié par la volonté de retracer la lente construction d’une « opinion » (ni une thèse, ni une argumentation) qui forme le motif principal de l’essai tout en laissant tout le poids rhétorique au reste, c’est-à-dire le récit de la conscience féministe à l’œuvre.

All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point – a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.

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