Has ‘Three Guineas’ by Virginia Woolf received the right change?

Some critics like John Lehmann have been somewhat harsh about Woolf’s ‘Three Guineas.’ He has described it as mistaken and suggested that it was not one of her better pieces of writing. Indeed, Lehmann has contended that having more women in positions of influence would not lead to a more peaceful world. This questionable statement was presented without evidence- during the 1970s, he viewed it as a matter of fact.

Although ‘Three Guineas’ is not without its difficulties, its powerful attack on fascism and patriarchy cannot be easily dismissed. It may be slightly uneven, it could be accused of being slightly deficient in structure and it might rely on psychological theory which is a little dated, but it must be appreciated as a text of its time. While it might have focused a little too much on the bourgeois professions and while it underestimated the strength of imperialism, it was a passionate intervention that was imaginative, bold and often sharp. In the grim 1930s, writing about politics was far from easy as the international scene was extremely bleak.

When war, nationalism and sexism are still very much on the international agenda, ‘Three Guineas’ remains relevant. This is because Woolf had dared to speak out against oppressive structures of exclusion. She had tried to delve into why individuals feel superior to one another. Moreover, she had exposed some of the hypocrisies which reflect underlying social problems. The dismissive complacency of Lehmann only underlines the validity of what Woolf was hoping to achieve.


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