What Does Virginia Woolf Mean When She Says, “As a woman I have no country?”

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”

― Virginia Woolf

As you know if you’ve read my recent blogs on “To The Lighthouse,” I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about Virginia Woolf and could use some help here – please let me know your thoughts on this quote. I would love to hear what you think she means. I find this quote fascinating and mysterious…


Filed under Archetypes and Symbols, Book Reviews, Topics I Love

4 responses to “What Does Virginia Woolf Mean When She Says, “As a woman I have no country?”

  1. This is what I think:
    When reading this quote I understand Woolf to see herself free from conventions and traditions imposed on the world by men. She feels herself to be an outsider, but this outsider position is at the same time giving her a unique sense of freedom. She is not, like her male companions, obliged to answer to a history of forefathers, and as she herself has stated, the history of foremothers is almost invisible.

    I think we can find a parallel philosophical investigation of this feeling in the work of the French thinkers Deleuze & Guattri: “Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature”

    se also “What is a Minor Literature?”: http://immanentterrain.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/what-is-a-minor-literature-3/

    • Sigrun, I love your take on this. I could not quite articulate this, but you perfectly describe it when you say, “the history of foremothers is almost invisible.” Woolf was a maverick – she opened doors for women by telling her stories – she helps women to get get in touch with the impact of being marginalized, exploited, and invisible throughout history. She was far ahead of her time and willing to take the risks to express herself and rock the boat – I think I’ll order her memoir and go more deeply into her story.

      • I believe the absence of writing foremothers to be very important because there is no obvious “hero” for Woolf to copy, or to rage against. I do also believe that the loss of her biological mother at an early age plays a major role both in Woolf’s life and in her writing. Nowhere more obvious than in To the Lighthouse, where the mother function as the nave of the story.

  2. I’ve also read that Woolf admired her mother and was in awe of many of her nurturing qualities – like Lily admired Mrs. Ramsey. So there is tension between opposing forces and no one is demonized. It is more like an interplay of light and dark, male and female, appreciation and disdain that is always in play…

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