writing

and thus leaves the women more discourageable

…while nature seems to award brilliance equally to men and women, society does not nurture it equally in the two sexes, and thus leaves the women more discourageable. Nor, in females, does the world reward selfishness, which, sad to say, artists seem to need, or so one gathers from the portraits of the men in these books. One can also gather it from biographies of the women who did not lose heart—for example, George Eliot, whose books were the product of a life custom-padded by her mate, George Lewes. (Phyllis Rose, in her “Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages,” reports that for twenty-four years Lewes screened Eliot’s incoming letters, together with all reviews of her books, and threw away anything that might distress her.) Then there is Virginia Woolf, whose novels would never have been written had she not had non-stop nursing care from Leonard Woolf. Virginia knew this, and seems to have decided she deserved it, or so she suggests in “A Room of One’s Own.” But, male or female, once the artist walks into that private room and closes the door, a lot of people are going to feel shut out—are going to be shut out—and they may suffer.

– Joan Acocella, “A Fire In The Brain,” from her 2003 New Yorker review of the Carol Loeb Shloss Lucia Joyce bio.

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