In the past, especially in adolescence, I read a lot but for some strange reasons, some renowned authors did not fall in my footsteps.
Perhaps because they weren’t present in the town’s municipal library; perhaps because they evoked worlds too far away from me; perhaps because I was not yet in the proximal development zone to appreciate them.
Last year I read “A Room of One’s Own Woolf, Virginia”. Having grown up in a traditional context of southern Italy, with small ambitions and few pretensions, I have always felt a stranger to feminism and therefore to Virginia.
I read the text only because during 2020 I considered the title linked with my situation: alone in my own room, also due to Covid-19. I found myself separated, paying credit and managing myself emotionally and economically as best I could (like so many others), in the midst of the health crisis.
I grew up sharing a room with my sister in my parents’ house. My desk has often changed places for various reasons (from the bedroom to the living room to my parents’ room). The door of my bedroom was always open, I don’t think I ever had the keys, letting whoever enter in when they wanted (my mother to ask for help in the kitchen to those who were passing through or on a courtesy visit at home!).
Thinking I deserved a room was asking too much.
“In the first place, to have a room of her own (…). Such material difficulties were formidable; but much worse were the immaterial” (p.44)
The point where Virginia wants to reach is interesting: she focuses on the room and not on the intellectual, social, cultural skills that can make a woman a writer or a poet -or simple free. A single room becomes the symbol of autonomy, independence, the possibility of a woman to express herself, not to be at the service, at the disposal of the other in the thousand possible social roles (helper, mother, sister, wife, partner, friend ..)
“Give her another hundred years, I concluded, reading the last chapter (…) give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days”.
“So that when I ask you to earn money and have a room of your own, I am asking you to live in the presence of reality, an invigorating life, it would appear, whether one can impart it or not” (p.92).
Reading Virginia during quarantine due to Covid-19 was great for me. She made me feel company and content with my condition, instead of hoping to be into a relationship that would save me from the condition of being alone — economically and emotionally.
In my room, I could read her text.