Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

From the eBook editionHerland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Published by Pantheon, an imprint of Random House

Herland, published in the early 1900’s, is a Utopian novel based on the idea of a society of women somehow being able to reproduce asexually and thus creating a world that, for two thousand years, has consisted of only women. In the book, three men from “regular” society hear about Herland and travel over there in order to investigate it for themselves. When they find that this society truly does exist, they get to know some of the women there and even form relationships with them.

This book was interesting, to say the least. While I didn’t particularly connect with the characters, I don’t think that Gilman’s point was to have readers fall in love with the characters – the message here is deeper than the characters or the story. It definitely gave me a lot to think about, the main thing being that this society, because they have no men, don’t see through a lens of gender in any way. As I can’t imagine such a thing – women are always compared to men in real life – it is an interesting concept to spend time thinking about. What would it be like if people were just people and gender was completely irrelevant?

To be completely honest, after reading Nymeth’s review of Herland, I can’t possibly come up with anything intelligent to comment on that she didn’t already say. I agree with basically her entire review (she’s kind of awesome anyway, you should check out her blog if you don’t already read it), so if you want to know what I think of Herland, just go read her post on it.

If you want to know whether or not I would recommend reading Herland, the answer is yes I would if you are interested in classic feminist literature. It is definitely a valuable read but I do need to acknowledge that the book may not be for everyone. If you are interested in this stuff, then, definitely pick it up!

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9 thoughts on “Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

  1. I have had this book on my shelves for the longest time, and recently have seen a lot of reviews on it since everyone is reading it for the year of feminist classics challenge. I think it would be really interesting to see how a world without men is created in this book, and what kinds of questions and issues that a single sex society would raise. I need to read this one, and I am glad that you enjoyed it! It sounds like a really interesting read.

    1. Interesting for sure! I would definitely recommend reading it just because of the questions it brings up. It’s a relatively quick read too, which is always nice!

  2. Have you read James Tiptree Jr. (who was actually a woman)? Also fascinating from a classic feminist science fiction perspective. It’s always interesting to see what aspects seem dated and which ones could be from a literary work published yesterday.

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