Now I’ve heard everything. The Huffington Post claims to have made educated guesses as to how nine famous authors would have voted in Tuesday’s presidential election. And their ill-educated guess regarding Virginia Woolf has her casting her ballot for Mitt Romney.
The Huff Post’s rationale is simplistic and ill-informed. Writers cite the fact that she “nearly always wrote about the upper-middle class, focusing on well-crafted, artful prose as opposed to social issues,” and they allege that in her feminist polemic A Room of One’s Own, Woolf “asserts that wealth is necessary to produce art.”
Both assertions fail to recognize the true breadth and depth of Woolf’s art, as well as her thinking about social and political issues. Yes, she wrote about the upper-middle class. But what did she actually say about them? Yes, she maintained that women needed a room of their own and £500 a year in order to write fiction. But what did she mean by that?
In both cases she was exploring and critiquing a highly stratified patriarchal society that saw women as less than men. Considering how Mittens fared with women on Tuesday — he garnered 43 percent of women’s votes, compared to Obama’s 55 percent — I doubt that Woolf, in all her feminist wisdom, would have made him her choice.
Oh, and let’s not forget her support for the Labour Party during elections that took place in her adult years.
But shallow confused thinking is what occurs when writers rely on quick and dirty Google-based research about an author. They pick one quote from an academic essay — in this case Leonard’s famous line that his wife was “the least political animal that has lived” — and leave the rest behind.
You can weigh in via the poll below. To keep things simple, it only includes the two major party candidates by name. But if you think she would have made an alternate choice, you can write it in.
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