Friday, July 15, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 22: Herland


I wrapped up this little beauty before lunch. I would have finished it sooner but the meds I'm on at the moment (a temporary measure) knock me right out, so I haven't been up to my usual late-night activities of late. Sad, that. Anyway, I'm on the mend and this book was wonderful.

I'm also typing this up on my iPad using my dying Zagg Bluetooth keyboard. I will go back and reformat this entry later with the usual links, picture sizes, read more break, and whatnot.


Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This wonderful novel is another one I was supposed to read during my time at university, but only skimmed. University was a tumultuous time for me, much more than for most people. This reading challenge is definitely an opportunity for me to remedy the poor job I have done reading some important works.

Gilman's utopia is, in a word, beautiful. The world that she has created and set this novel in is ideal, functional, and leaves plenty of room for merriment and wonder. It is a world I could live in and find the peace that is ever so absent from my status quo.

Without giving away too much of the plot, Herland is a utopian society of women--only women--that has been around for 2,000 years. Three American men find it while on an unrelated expedition and become the first men in Herland in two millennia. What happens after that is a learning experience for both the men and the Herlandians. The ending leaves me with many questions, but it does not feel like an incomplete experience. Rather, I would very much like to know if Gilman has written a sequel.

The writing in this book is simply marvelous. I found myself highlighting a lot of the text while I read it. The pacing is different than I'm used to, both because the book is more than a century old and because it is written by a woman of that time period. Still, it is beautifully-written and engaging from beginning to end. I don't think I ever came across a dull moment, even though an action-packed story this is not.

Gilman's world makes so much sense that it casts into painful light the shortcomings and brutality of our own. The three men in the story are loathe to discuss the negative aspects of their world with the women of Herland, and I keenly understood their embarrassment. When compared with the loving and logical world of Herland, the outer world seems dark, heartless, and dirty.

I would very much like to use this story in my classroom someday. For now, however, I highly recommend this novel.

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