After beginning the readings regarding politics and Woolf, I was shocked by the extent to which I actually enjoyed the material. I assumed because of my strong disinterest in politics that I would be somewhat bored with this portion of Woolf’s work; however, the exact opposite has actually happened. I am enjoying myself! I started this unit by reading Thoughts on Peace in An Air Raid which I thought was surprising and somewhat outside the realm of Woolf’s typical writings. First of all, the sentence structure and the ability to actually follow her thoughts really threw me for a loop. The sensation of having some sort of clue what Woolf was talking about was a new and quite entertaining experience.
One portion of the text I found particularly unusual was Woolf’s commentary on Englishmen. At one point she states, “We must create more honorable activities for those who try to conquer in themselves their fighting instinct, their subconscious Hitlerism.” This statement shed a whole new light on my ideas of Woolf. Until this point in the semester I have felt that Woolf had a cynical attitude regarding the male population. In many of her novels we have seen women’s subservience to the male gender and for this reason I believed Woolf despised the male gender and used them as a tool for blame. But In Thoughts on Peace in An Air Raid Woolf lays the foundation as to why males have a macho and at times overly-masculine demeanor. She seems to be implying that males have pre-conceived notions built into their character regarding how they are to behave. She further emphasizes her point in suggesting that women must HELP them overcome these ideas. The idea of women HELPING men and being sympathetic to their needs surprised me. In this essay I think we see a more caring and determined side of Woolf. She seems to look past the restrictions males have placed on her as a woman in society and sees the broader picture by focusing on the good of all of humanity rather than just the female gender.
I also really enjoyed Leonard Woolf’s Fear and Politics. From the writing, it is easy to see how he and Virginia were married. Their writing styles remind me a lot of one another in that they both successfully use language to capture the reader’s attention in a manipulative sort of way. For some reason, I kept laughing while reading the essay, which is something I often do when reading Virginia’s work. Prior to reading Fear and Politics, I had very limited knowledge regarding the Russian Revolution, but from the reading, the main debates of the revolution became very clear. In Leonard’s writing, I can also see the spiral motion we have discussed in how his ideas begin and enter through a series of loops only to end at almost the same point. I loved his incorporation of the animals and the idea of captivity and the jungle. Even for someone disinterested in history, this essay was enlightening; therefore, I would say it is a successful piece of literature.