Monday, February 22, 2010

Women Who Read are Dangerous

I love the title of this book. It was the title that originally drew me to it. But I also liked the idea of it. It offers a variety of paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs of women reading and combines them with commentary explaining the context in which the artwork was created, as well as who the reader is, their relationship with the artist, and what she is reading.

There was a time when female literacy was indeed a controversial idea and it took a long time for women to be entirely free to choose what they read. When reading for women was associated with piety or chastity, it was approved of, but some seemed to think it would make them discontent, idle or rebellious. But as Karen Joy Fowler says in her Foreword, "We women who read should take a moment, put down the book, this or any other, look around us. We are experiencing a rare period of triumph. A collection such as this one encourages the long view, reminding us that this triumph has been a long time coming--hard-fought, hard-won. We should note it, enjoy it fast before books disappear entirely, as we've been told (but do not believe) they soon will in favor of digital technologies--shoot-em-up web games, internet quests, chat rooms, weblogs, and other entertainments that haven't yet been invented."

Through it all, women have read, and continue to read. The crisis these days is that men do not. The vast majority of readers are women (more than 80% by some accounts). This is a fascinating compilation, one that manages to capture the intimacy and tranquility of reading, and should appeal to all book lovers as well as those who are interested in the depiction of women in art.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...