Herland, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and Selected Writings

Herland, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and Selected Writings

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a turn-of-the-century American feminist and socialist thinker.

Based on the nervous breakdown she suffered during her own disastrous first marriage, The Yellow Wall-Paper is her classic story about a woman who goes mad when the rest-cure treatment she undergoes forbids her any kind of work.Herland, Gilman's most famous novel, is a feminist utopian comedy in which three men stumble upon a society of women that has banished men.

Also included in this Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics edition is a selection of Gilman's poetry and other short fiction.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.93
  • Pages: 384
  • Publish Date: September 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics
  • Isbn10: 0141180625
  • Isbn13: 9780141180625

What People Think about "Herland, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and Selected Writings"

More Than The Yellow Wallpaper Charlotte Perkins Gilman is best known for the story "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892), about a married female writer who goes mad after being confined to her room as a cure for post-partum depression, and deprived of all creative outlets. In a sense, you could say that if you have read her most famous story, you have got the essence of Gilman, but little of her range. There is even room for a little humor, as when one of the women, learning that American couples do not confine their sexual activities to the necessities of procreation, assumes that they must be doing this for higher ends: This climactic expression, which, in all the other life-forms, has but the one purpose, has with you become specialized to higher, purer, nobler uses.

I decided to read this story because of how often Ive heard of it. Of course, my constant misgiving regarding the classics made me assume that it would be a boring read but I resolved to plow through it no matter what. I read The Yellow Wall-Paper in the Penguin Classics copy of Gillmans selected writing. But in this casewhere the story is a tad confusing and might be hard to digest if you havent the patience for such a narrativeits good to read the introduction and get some information on the authors background and what moved her to write such an unsettling tale. Gillman believed that societys insistence on gender rolesman as provider and protector; woman as nurturer and domesticatedlimits humanitys ability.

Whatever positive things there may be to say about "The Yellow Wall-Paper" (and perhaps, if I'm generous, the mediocre ghost story "The Giant Wistaria"), they don't extend to this book as a whole. It fronts with "Herland," a patience-trying novella, buries "Wall-Paper" in a hodgepodge of short stories (some of which are brutally low-quality), and then ends with about 20 (almost uniformly wretched) poems. The aggressive agenda evident throughout doesn't necessarily bother me-- Millay had a message too, and a much less vogue one at that-- but just saying politically provocative things about female equality doesn't really do it for me if the stories aren't otherwise interesting (particularly now that Gilman's agenda is no longer all that provocative). From what I can tell, Penguin identified Gilman as a historically significant feminist writer, and figured that people would buy this book from a feeling of duty to that cause, indifferent to the quality of the work inside it.

It's told from the perspective of a male explorer who visits with two other men, all of whom have their views on femininity challenged by their visit, particularly the idea that women are naturally competitive with each other.

It wasnt much less weird this time, but I now have the perspective of motherhood and postpartum depression survival.

My favorite two from this edition were the novella "Herland" and the short story "The Yellow Wall-Paper." Other short stories were interesting but none caught my attention as much as this one. I had heard much about this short story and thought I knew exactly what to expect.

A little research afterwards proved I was right, and now I can't wait to read Jill Lepore's book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman.

I didn't get around to reading Herland but I read the short stories and poetry.

Herland is delightful and appeals to the cultural anthropologist in me.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform.