Book Features Influential Women Writers of Early 20th Century

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is an amazing collection of poetry and short stories by influential female writers from the early part of the 20th century.

About the Book

A fascinating anthology of poetry and prose by leading feminist writers of the 20th century on the topic of women’s freedom and the idea of the ‘New Woman’. This international collection offers over 20 literary gems by favourite and newly rediscovered women writers.

Selected and introduced by Gabi Reigh who gives context to the selected contributions from women writers who were expressing their hopes for freedom and autonomy during the early part of the twentieth century.

My Thoughts

This is a great collection of stories and poetry. I’ve always enjoyed female writers and the gothic, Southern short stories. These all had a similar vibe, so maybe I just enjoy short stories by women and I didn’t know it. I love anthologies because you get a chance to sample many different authors’ work and find new authors you might not have found otherwise. I had only recently heard of Katherine Mansfield earlier this year – which was strange to me because apparently she was very influential. I’ll blame that on being Southern and having teachers focus more on the likes of Flannery O’Connor and Kate Chopin. But I enjoyed her work earlier this year, and am glad to see her included in this story.

I appreciate what stream of consciousness has done for the literary world, and that Virginia Woolf was important to that. But her work isn’t to my taste. I’ve just never been a big fan of stream-of-consciousness writing. If I wanted that, I could just go into my neurodivergent mind or talk to half my family members. But I digress.

I was also introduced to several writers I’d never heard of before. Radclyffe Hall was a nice, unique voice I’d never heard. Her thinly veiled LGBTQ-voice was delightful and sad. Clearly voicing the hardship of being part of the alphabet mafia during a time when it was absolutely not allowed. Maria Messina, billed by the editor and others as an Italian Katherine Mansfield, penned a tale that stuck with me.

Several poems placed throughout the volume offered additional insight into the minds of women during this time period. The pain and frustration in the simply titled “I Sit and Sew” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson was so relatable. Even today there are still “women’s tasks” even in the most modern relationships, and there are spaces that leave us behind.

I’m excited to see all these wonderful women writers collected in this anthology together, proving that there has long been a tradition of women in the literary scene – and not just in romance writing or so-called women’s fiction. I’m not saying either of those genres are “bad” or “less-than” just that women don’t only write in them. I hope that this collection raises interest and awareness of women writers both in the early 20th century and beyond.

All of the stories have their own special messages, most focusing on various feminist ideologies of the day. It is both nice to see how things have changed and disheartening to see how some things haven’t. I am grateful to the editor and Love Books Tour for including me on this tour.

Who’s It For?

Anyone who loves good feminist literature will enjoy these stories. You might even be familiar with some of these writers or stories from school. This was a booming time for feminist ideals and female writers, so it’s a great collection to dive into for feminist thinking.

About the Authors

I don’t have author bios for all the authors, but here is the list of stories/poems and authors included in the book.

A Woman by Fani Popova-Mutafova (translated by Petya Pavlova)
Thoughts by Myra Viola Wilds
The Little Governess by Katherine Mansfield
Villa Myosotis by Sorana Gurian (translated by Gabi Reigh)
The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf
Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself [extract] by Radclyffe Hall
I sit and sew by Alice Dunbar Nelson
First Steps [extract] by Dorka Talmon (translated by Mira Glover)
Coming Home by Maria Messina (translated by Juliette Neil)
Vegetal Reverie by Magda Isanos (translated by Gabi Reigh)
The Iceberg by Zelda Fitzgerald
The Russian Princess by Carmen de Burgos (translated by Slava Faybysh)
Bring to Me All… by Marina Tsvetaeva (translated by Nina Kossman)
Autres Temps by Edith Wharton
Unheard by Yente Serdatsky (translated by Dalia Wolfson)
Fog by Gabriela Mistral (translated by Stuart Cooke)
Natalia [extract] by Fausta Cialente (translated by Laura Shanahan)
What makes this century worse? by Anna Akhmatova (translated by Olga Livshin)
Broken by Nataliya Kobrynska (translated by Hanna Leliv & Slava Faybysh)
Sunset by Antonia Pozzi (translated by Sonia di Placido)
Once Upon A Time by Ling Shuhua (translated by Leilei Chen)
Their Religions and our Marriages: Herland [extract] by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Goodbye Lebanon by May Ziadeh (translated by Rose DeMaris)

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