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Herland [Paperback]

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 18 1998 Dover Thrift Editions
A prominent turn-of-the-century social critic and lecturer, Charlotte Perkins Gilman is perhaps best known for her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," a chilling study of a woman's descent into insanity, and Women and Economics, a classic of feminist theory that analyzes the destructive effects of women's economic reliance on men.
In Herland, a vision of a feminist utopia, Gilman employs humor to engaging effect in a story about three male explorers who stumble upon an all-female society isolated somewhere in South America. Noting the advanced state of the civilization they've encountered, the visitors set out to find some males, assuming that since the country is so civilized, "there must be men." A delightful fantasy, the story enables Gilman to articulate her then-unconventional views of male-female roles and capabilities, motherhood, individuality, privacy, the sense of community, sexuality, and many other topics.
Decades ahead of her time in evolving a humanistic, feminist perspective, Gilman has been rediscovered and warmly embraced by contemporary feminists. An articulate voice for both women and men oppressed by the social order of the day, she adeptly made her points with a wittiness often missing from polemical writings. This inexpensive edition of Herland will charm readers with the tale's mischievous, ironic outlook. 

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Review

"Herland is utopia with a smlle, a gentle, witty version of what women can be. As fascinating to women for what it omits entirely as for what it discovers and invents for us, it is a fast and invigorating read." ---Marge Plercy --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was arguably the most important American author of the women's movement in the early 20th-century. In addition to editing a newspaper, "The Forerunner," she wrote "Women and Economics," one of the first studies of the role of women in the economic system. Other utopias written by Gilman include "Moving the Mountain" in 1911 and "With Her in Ourland." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was arguably the most important American author of the women's movement in the early 20th-century. In addition to editing a newspaper, "The Forerunner," she wrote "Women and Economics," one of the first studies of the role of women in the economic system. Gilman also wrote a number of utopias: "Moving the Mountain" in 1911, "With Her in Ourland" (1916), and her best-known, "Herstory" in 1915. In "Herstory" Gilman creates a homosocial (one-sex) utopian society made up entirely of women in which the culture, political system, and families are the result of having women as the basis (instead of merely stemming from the absence of men). However, while other American utopian novels, most notably Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward 2000-1888," were standard reading for decades, Gilman's "Herland" was pretty much forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 1970s. Even after four decades Gilman's satire was seen as still speaking to the conditions faced by American women.
Following the conceit first used by Sir Thomas More in writing his "Utopia," Gilman's "Herstory" tells of three American explorers (male, of course), stumbling upon an all-female society in an isolated mountain valley in a land far away on the even of the first World War. Since they find this strange land to be civilized the explorers are convinced there must be some men hiding someplace, and set out to find them. As they search high and low for the male of the species they learn about the history of the country, the religion of motherhood, and the other unique customs, while trying to seduce its inhabitants.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a feminist utopia--a humanist utopia Feb. 2 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The title of Gilman's novel may be a bit misleading. The novel is described as a feminist novel. Yet, this is not exactly acurate. The absence of men in the utopian society may seem extreme to some, and it is. This is how Gilman makes her point. She does not create a world without men because men are terrible creatures who have corrupted the world. The utopia which lacks men is a clean peaceful place, excelling in every way American society fails. But, it is neither the absence of men nor the presence of women that faciliates this.
Gender, in this novel, is symbolic for the most part. Gilman does separate the two genders to destroy steroetypes, but also to establish a concrete difference between the two worlds. The male world is not bad, and the female good. The world in which people are defined by others and limited to these defined roles is bad, while the world in which people are free to grow without being defined or compared to others, and are able to see the oneness of all people is good.
Comparing Herland to the reader's own world, Gilman begins destroying gender based stereotypes. Because there are no distinctions of gender in Herland, nor any superficial characteristics which accompany gender, Herland women take on the roles of all people without considering any limitations. These women are strong, agile, nurturing, intelligent, cooperative, and able to rely on themselves. They are not "typical" females. As Gilman explains through the male character Van, "Those 'feminie charms' we are so fond of are not feminine at all, but mere reflected masculinity--developed to please us because they had to please us, and in no way essential to the real fulfillment of their great process" (59). In the same way, stereotypes about men can be discredited.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How Could They Have Possibly Lost This Book?!? May 5 2003
Format:Paperback
Back in 1915 when HERLAND was written, women were widely considered weak and uncreative and had the sole responsibility of taking care of home, family, and being socialites. So, when 3 young American men in the novel encounter a country comprised entirely of women, they look everywhere to find out where they must have hidden their men. Of course, being emperialist men, they think it should be easy to conquer and subdue a country of women. However, they are looking at these "women" through the eyes of their own culture, not realizing their full potential as "humans". These are women who have such little land to support their people that they've only kept and cultivated food-bearing trees like most people would cultivate a garden and who have learned how to have children without men. Some women! Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote this novel after leaving her own husband and home, going off to prove that women are as capable as making a living for themselves as men are. I can only imagine the stir this book must have caused among the feminists of the day. Gilman has written a very interesting book with only one minor flaw. She keeps on building the reader up to this "big thing" that the women of Herland evidently have in store for the men who have dropped by bi-plane into their perfect little world. It turns out to not be such a shocking thing after all and pretty obvious in fact. Despite this slight transgression, the book is superb. HERLAND is a short book that is surprisingly quick-paced and imaginative. It's a gem of a book to add to anyone's collection.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful feminist novel
This is a great, imaginative book, one of my favorites. I highly recommend it.
Published on April 10 2004 by J. Jacobs
1.0 out of 5 stars As usual, the message overwhelms the medium.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (Dover, 1909)
I always found it odd that Gilman, a prolific writer during her life, had become so obscure less than a century later as to be... Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2003 by Robert Beveridge
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, engaging, and meaningful.
A beautiful and thorough examination of utopia populated entirely by women, through the prism of an intelligent and educated young man. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2003 by Jonathan Orme
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderland for feminist utopias!
I came across this work while researching Utopian and Dystopia Lit in college and it was love at first read. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2002 by "hrh_tela"
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly interesting as a period piece
Like most utopias, Herland hasn't aged well. What sounds like heaven to one generation seems more like hell to another. Read more
Published on May 3 2002 by Sarah E. Mcfadden
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderland
Three American explorers stumble upon a small country they dub Herland that's populated totally by women. Read more
Published on April 15 2002 by "blissengine"
4.0 out of 5 stars Still thinking about it after all these years...
This book was assigned reading for me back in college 12 years ago and I have been thinking about ever since then. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2002 by Theresa Mcdonald
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly civilized and enjoyable!
Having read the book in one sitting, I'm excited about the ideas "Herland" brings to the present world, especially about men's view of women, and even women's view of... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2002 by nychen
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This Book!
Lovers of fantasy as well as feminism will love this book. Perkins gives us a look into what the world might look like if women were in charge. Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2001 by Julie
4.0 out of 5 stars Is this feminism?
The story, of three men who fall into a woman society, was itself a product of a feminist, Charlotte Gilman Perkins. Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2001
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