Of Woolf, Coleridge, and Shakespeare

Virginia Woolf writing about the greatest writers and greatest minds–

“If one is a man, still the woman part of the brain must have effect; and a woman must also have intercourse with the man in her. Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous. It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilized and uses all its faculties. Perhaps a mind that is purely masculine cannot create, any more than a mind that is purely feminine. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple: one must be woman-manly or man-womanly.”


The first sentence’s unintentional humor and the limited view on ‘single-sex’ writers in the last two sentences aside, such a view nevertheless offers a perspective on sensibility relative to Shakespeare’s greatness, and on what might make other writers and minds truly great. In any case, a unique, interesting criterion when one is considering greatness.

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