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Thursday, 3 March 2011

A Quote a Day for Women's History Month: 3rd March

Scholastic ladies, I am convinced, have a vocation which they neither can nor desire to elude.... Now, when I meet scholastic ladies I like them, respect them, yet feel as though I were skating precariously on thin ice all the time; or rather, that my brittle ice is their solid terra firma. Will they find me out, I wonder? Find out those frightful gaps in my education?

Very rarely do I meet one scholastic lady alone; usually two or three in a group of friendship. They wear friendship like a warm durable cloak that does not fray or need patching. They do not insult one another; they tell gay teasing stories to show up each others' good and generous qualities, and while they are doing so, the subject of their story always tries to stop them.
G. B. [Gladys Bertha] Stern, Monogram (1936)
Stern was an interwar writer of novels and memoirs of whose works I am very fond, and fits well into a wider group of middlebrow women writers c. 1910-1960. I like this for its positive presentation of a group of women who are often rather negatively presented in texts of the same period. Even Harriet Vane in Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night is subject to preconceptions and stereotypes concerning the academic ladies of Shrewsbury College, even if, as a whole, the book vindicates women dedicated to the life of the mind. This depiction is particularly nice coming from a woman from a very different milieu with, or so she claims, an inferiority complex about her own credentials in the field of learning. I particularly like the lovely picture of female friendship.

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