THE CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN READER: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Fiction by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

THE CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN READER: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Fiction

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)--economist, novelist, and feminist theoretician--is best known for her classic story of a woman driven mad for lack of work, ""The Yellow Wallpaper."" Lane includes it in this provocative volume with nine other short stories (previously unavailable in book form) and excerpts from seven novels, three of them fictional utopias. All the selections raise questions about the nature of women, the quality of their lives, work, and relationships. A woman who wakes up in a man's body realizes the ease that manhood (with pockets and comfortable shoes) confers. Another woman views her husband's seduction of the maid not as a personal affront but a crime against all womanhood and leaves home with her husband's victim. Other women establish their own businesses or baby-gardens or (in the utopian novel Herland, reprinted 1979) a whole society. According to Lane's excellent biographical/critical introduction, Gilman's characters are ""sort of feminist Horatio Algers,"" aiming not at wealth but at ""autonomy and the facility to use their gifts for the social good""; they usually achieve it through work. Utopia is reachable, Gilman's work suggests, not through technology but changed attitudes, changed relationships between women and men. Although Gilman, as Lane says, is more concerned with ideas than style, her work is eminently readable; and because the issues she raises are still of concern, her work is timely, searching, and lastingly important.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1980
Publisher: Pantheon