Newspaper page from the New York Herald Tribune with "Books" at the top, a drawing of Ernest Hemingway in the center, and a red circle drawn around the title of an article "An Essay in Criticism" by Virginia Woolf

“An Essay in Criticism,“ 1927

Transcript below

… It is undoubtedly true, if we are going to persevere in our attempt to reveal the processes of the critic‘s mind, that any emphasis laid upon sex is dangerous. Tell a man that this is a woman‘s book, or a woman that this is a man‘s, and you have brought into play sympathies and antipathies which have nothing to do with art. The greatest writers lay no stress upon sex one way or the other. The critic is not reminded as he reads them that he belongs to the masculine or the feminine gender. But in our time, thanks to our sexual perturbations, sex consciousness is strong, and shows itself in literature by an exaggeration, a protest of sexual characteristics which in either case is disagreeable. Thus Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Joyce partly spoil their books for women readers by their display of self-conscious virility; and Mr. Hemingway, but much less violently, follows suit. All we can do, whether we are men or women, is to admit the influence, look the fact in the face, and so hope to stare it out of countenance.

End of Transcript

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