Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
An all-female society is discovered somewhere in the distant reaches of the earth by three male explorers who are now forced to re-examine their assumptions about women's roles in society.

147 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1915

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

736 books1,491 followers
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, also known as Charlotte Perkins Stetson, was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper", which she wrote after a severe bout of post-partum depression.

She was the daughter of Frederic B. Perkins.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,606 (17%)
4 stars
6,660 (31%)
3 stars
7,406 (35%)
2 stars
2,502 (12%)
1 star
644 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,261 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
March 8, 2019
I clearly did not get the memo on this one. I thought Herland probably had such a low average rating on Goodreads because it was dated - which it is, obnoxiously so - but I didn't realize what a hate-filled piece of propaganda this book really is.

It came up again when I recently reviewed The Cerulean, a book about an all-female society. People have been mentioning this book to me for years. A secret society of women have created the perfect utopia by killing off the remaining few male survivors of a volcanic eruption and - oh my! - actually doing things for themselves. Killing off all men does feel like a dated kind of feminism but, okay, I'll bite. It's entirely possible I would have wanted to kill off the men, too, if I had been alive in 1915.

Yeah, but it's not just the men. It's the mentally ill and disabled. It's anyone who doesn't fit into their idea of "perfect". It is - at least it seems - any woman who isn't white. This is not me reading things into it. The women of this society are very open about their "negative eugenics":
There followed a period of “negative eugenics” which must have been an appalling sacrifice. We are commonly willing to “lay down our lives” for our country, but they had to forego motherhood for their country—and it was precisely the hardest thing for them to do.

It's one thing, I think, for oppressed women to imagine a society where their oppressors don't exist. It's quite another to imagine breeding a race of perfect humans who are white, female, able-bodied, and neurotypical.

But even allowing for these attitudes that seem abhorrent today, it's a very basic and poorly-written story. I don't think it was meant to be farcical but some moments definitely seem like it, such as when the three men wander into Herland in the beginning and are yelling:
“Girls!” whispered Jeff, under his breath, as if they might fly if he spoke aloud.
“Peaches!” added Terry, scarcely louder. “Peacherinos—apricot-nectarines! Whew!”

These men toddle around, scratching their heads, and saying ridiculously twee things. The men are so obviously and overly condescending in parts of the book just so the women can correct them on it and explain why their notions of gender are stupid.

But it all just doesn't seem that feminist today. Is it feminist to imagine a perfect all-female society where the women have been bred to be stronger and smarter than men? Isn't the underlying implication that women as they are are not good enough? And the pregnancy! All these women care about is pregnancy and motherhood. The ultimate goal is to have children. It seems that even in a feminist utopia, women are still tied to their biological role. Abortion is unthinkable, of course.
“Destroy the unborn—!” she said in a hard whisper. “Do men do that in your country?”

There are a couple of interesting ideas about education and not force-feeding kids - the Montessori methods are viewed highly. I liked the discussion about not naming children after yourself as it suggests a form of ownership, which is also clearly a critique of women taking a man's name in marriage. But I'm scrambling around for a couple of good things to say about it. Overall, not a good experience for me.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Profile Image for Dixie Diamond.
462 reviews
June 22, 2009
Three stars: Five stars as a period piece, one as a work of literature.

Mine is the 1979 edition whose preface claims it is still relevant. Perhaps that, too, is an indication of a past phase of feminism, because the story has really not aged very well.

The writing is awful. Sorry. I know that it was originally serialized in Gilman's magazine, which might account for the shallow, unpolished quality of it, but it makes for tiresome reading in novella form.

I hesitate to criticize Herland too much because Gilman was so obviously a product of her time and social class that it's almost impossible to evaluate her in modern terms. The work is clearly a reaction against extreme male domination of society and is absurd if it is divorced from its original context. It seems as if the best testament to just how limited women were in 1915 is the painfully-restricted scope of what even an ardent feminist could envision for her gender. I was struck in particular by the apparent inability to develop much technology, and the narrator's statement that Herland had been unable to generate much of a science of geology; I'm sure my mother, who did graduate work in crystal physics, would find that darkly amusing. It seems that even radical women saw the talents of their sex as primarily organic and not scientific or mathematical.

What strikes me most in this novel is that Gilman managed to depict women in a way that was revolutionary and yet still to stereotype them. The robotic, heterogeneous inhabitants of Herland--all of them beautiful, athletic, rational, and wise--seem nearly as objectified as the shrinking-violet heroines produced by contemporary male authors.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
June 9, 2021
i feel like, as a lady, i should have liked this more. i thought it was okay; i liked some of the gentle satire poked at recontextualizing the things we take for granted about our society, which is supposed to make us laugh and blush. but i think i would go mad here. it's a little too wide-eyed stepford wives-y for me. and in a land without men, who would i get to boss around? i just don't think this has aged well, overall, and i'm not sure why i was under the impression that it was some seminal work that i had to read during my summer of overlooked classics.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,224 reviews169 followers
March 21, 2023
“ … Why, this is a civilized country!” I protested. “There must be men.”

At the outset of HERLAND, any reader who has ever enjoyed a Victorian or early 20th century adventure tale will be in no doubt about the nature of what they are about to read - the narrative style; the bombastic attitude of the men who consider themselves, one and all, to be what they would call “a man’s man”; the imperialistic, chauvinistic attitude of “first world” white men to any peoples, villages, towns, cities, or countries that they might encounter outside of their own circle as they travel; the unassailable notions of their superiority and invincibility. It was always thus in the metaphorically swashbuckling tales put out by these authors – Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, H Rider Haggard, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s simply tough to tell where one author stops and the next one begins.

HERLAND is no different and the opening chapters place it squarely into this well populated, genre. The story starts, of course, with the men laying their ever so masculine plans for domination of an as yet unexplored, near mythical land populated with only women. What they discover, with a combination of chagrin, dismay and shocked disbelief is a utopian land that exemplifies cooperation, peace, contentment, progress and achievement.

With a challenging blend of humour, sarcasm, rational thought and probing, critical questions, Gilman’s unique novel forthrightly lays bare the assumptions and the behavioural norms based in men’s thinking and, dare I say it, toxic masculinity and misogyny, that were implicit in early 20th century Victorian culture.

It would be nice to think that the world has progressed somewhat but when one reads HERLAND, it is easy to wonder whether we’ve come any distance at all from the male-dominated misogynistic and intensely racist society that prompted Gilman to put her pen to paper.

Intriguing, compelling, evocative and intensely thought-provoking. Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for merixien.
565 reviews302 followers
April 5, 2021

“Zaten vatanperverlik, yani fanatiklik, ulusal çıkarların göz ardı edildiği, sahtekarlığın ve milyonlarca insanın acı çekmesine kayıtsızlığın görüldüğü yerlerde bulunur. Vatanperverliğin büyük bir kısmı gurur, daha büyük bir kısmı ise savaşçılıktır. Yani vatanperverlik genellikle kavgaya her an hazır olmak demektir.”

Kitap üç Amerikalı adamın, tamamen kadınlardan oluşan ve evrimsel olarak mükemmel hale gelmiş bir kadınlar ülkesini keşfetmeleri ve buradaki gözlemlerine dayanıyor. Kitap her ne kadar 1915 yılında yazılmış olsa da ancak 1970-80 ler döneminde yayınlanabilmiş. Kitabın yazıldığı dönem göz önüne alındığında ve o dönemin ataerkil toplum kuralları çerçevesinde bakıldığında; hem feminizm hem de bilimkurgu açısından bir dönüm noktası olduğu açık. Hatta ikinci dalga feminist hareket için oldukça önemli eserlerden. Ancak günümüzdeki toplum yapısına göre değerlendirildiğinde oldukça kalıplaşmış temellerle kısıtlı kalıyor. Bir de Charlotte Perkins Gilman’ın ırkçı görüşlerine dair bilginiz olduğunda buna dair doneleri de es geçemiyorsunuz. Kadınlar Ülkesi’nde erkeklere yer olmadığı kadar, farklı ırklara ve alt sınıflara da yer yok. Bu yüzden de bu ütopya içerisinde cinsiyetçiliği, sınıfçılığı ve milliyetçiliği görmezden gelerek okumak çok zor. Bu özelliklerinin yanı sıra, anlatımda da turukluk hissediyorsunuz, anlatıcı o kadar geri planda kalıyor ki bazı yerlerde bir anlatıcı olduğunu dahi unutuyor insan. Bu durum daha çok bir tarih ya da ders kitabı okuyor gibi hissetmenize sebep oluyor. Yazarın Sarı Duvar Kağıdı’nı okumuş ve çok sevmiştim ama bu kitap için aynı şeyleri söyleyemeyeceğim.

Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews404 followers
April 17, 2017
This is considered utopian literature. If you look for a list of utopian literature here on Goodreads you will find it lumped together with dystopian literature, which is odd because they mean exactly the opposite. Herland is distinctly utopian. Merriam-Webster says utopia is "an imaginary and indefinitely remote place". That defines Herland perfectly. It is also considered feminist literature, and that fits Perkins perfectly because she was a feminist first and foremost.

Herland is the unusual story of three young men who stumble upon an isolated and almost inaccessible society of female only inhabitants. They have survived as such for centuries. How is that possible, you ask? Well, you will have to read the novel for that. Suffice it to say they get along fine without men, and they have created a society much more agreeable and balanced than the outside world of the three young men.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Alejandra Arévalo.
508 reviews1,294 followers
March 23, 2023

Necesito que todas lo lean, que lo traduzcan a todas las lenguas, que lo reimpriman, que lo muevan en todos lados. Que además se conozca la tercera parte.

100% segura que este libro está difícil de conseguir, así como sus otras partes, porque a los hombres no les conviene. ¿Cómo es posible que hayamos leído tantas utopías pero no esta? ¿Por qué no hay película? Tengo mucho que procesar.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,549 reviews1,824 followers
December 9, 2019



This is a mismatched selection, the Yellow wallpaper is about twenty pages long and is the better of the two from a literary point of view, Herland is just short of two hundred pages and is one of those books more interesting to read about than to read , it is not exactly a dud, but is a classic example of Utopian (dystopian) fiction in that the author is more interested in the concept to the exclusion of the story. But who reads dystopian literature for the story, (and Herland is dystopian particularly for dog lovers, but for them and everybody else on account of the racism, which perhaps rather invalidates the feminism ). Both are good pieces of political writing, although I did not feel that either was great from a literary point of view.

Herland is very much like The Lost World, if you got rid of the dull dinosaurs and murderous cavemen to replace them with a steady state society of three million women reproducing through parthenogenesis, and if you also got rid of the Victorian British men to replace them with three all American boy adventurers, one a man's man macho domineering type, one a southern gentleman who believes in entrapping his women through chivalry and deference, and one Goldilocks character who is our narrator. The three, on an expedition, somewhere, hear some wild, crazy talk of a place where there are only women and no men and naturally they strike off to investigate, spotting signs of pollution in the water they instantly conclude they are close to an advanced civilisation, and make use of their handy biplane parked on their super-yacht to fly into Herland, if this had been made into a sleazy film in the 1950s I imagine the poster would be rather like that for Attack of the 50ft woman . But enough of such foolish diversions. There are a host of similar books to this, Lost Horizon a bit later, maybe too King Solomon's Mines with the idea that through travel and adventure one might stumble into some ancient kingdom (and they generally do seem to be non-democratic places) which preserves ancient wisdom, or hidden treasure, or lost transformative secrets. At the same time the true nature of the protagonists will be revealed and a mirror held up to the society from whence they came.

My problem in talking about this book is that Gilman herself is so keen to discuss and elaborate on her concept that the temptation is just to make fun of the details which isn't the point really.

A friend reminded me that Mary Beard in Women and Power discusses Herland, though I didn't read it that long ago I have forgotten what she had to say about it, on the issue of power, this all woman society is compared to Bee Hives and Ant colonies several times by the investigating men and it is headed by an 'over-mother' or Queen as I believe we generally say in English, formal political structures don't seem to be necessary in the society that Gilman describes since the women form a cultural unity and seem to be of one mind mostly, although at the same time through eugenic practises they have bred out criminality and most of their laws are less than twenty years old so they feel the need for law making, how laws are made and enforced is not clear.

What is clear is that while Gilman is rejecting some of her society's prejudices against women, she embraces other prejudices whole heartedly we are repeatedly told that these women are Aryans and racially pure, she believed that criminality is heritable and can be bred out, Herland is also the embodiment of the Angel in the House ideology logically expanded to an entire society, yes, she says, women are different and noble and pure, they are the Angels in the house, mothers and home-makers, their only problem is men, once all the men are out of the way then society becomes a family and a nation becomes a home, further (and maybe these are the jokes in the book - my sense of humour is deficient, so it is hard for me to tell) in such a situation women will not grow hairs on their faces, their clothes will have lots of pockets, and there will be a lot of cats .

On the most interesting side Gilman's rational society is apparently vegan, they gave up animal husbandry because they calculated that their secret plateau Queendom was too small to support three million woman and livestock (apart from cats ), they have crafts, but show no signs of having the Arts (Gilman had been reading her Plato).

The women are prepared to enter into relations with the three men and to become a bi-sexual society (in the sense of possessing both sexes - in terms of their relationships they are entirely chaste and asexual ) three intrepid women are prepared to enter into intimate relationships with the Americans, the society held aloof for two thousand years from the local men presumably because they are 'savages' and non-aryan. This goes about as well as Goldilock's famous visit to the house of the three bears .

I can imagine that there are some interesting books about Herland, or that it was interesting to read when it was published in the face of the particular prejudices about women of the time (1915), or if you were really desperate for a gynocentric literature, but not otherwise.

The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) is more fun, a woman writes a diary secretly and intermittently, she seems to be suffering from post natal depression, her condition worsens over time due to the prejudices of her doctor husband. Again the concept is great, isolated woman getting more and more mad, the way her wants and needs are brushed away and dismissed with instead a strict daily timetable and an emphasis on will power to achieve health from the husband who inconveniently is also her doctor - the story is derived from the mainstream medical practise of the day and I believe Gilman's own experience, the build up of sinister imagery is good - the over-regulated garden, the lonely deserted house that might have a dark secret - in addition to having an upstairs room with bars on the window, rings on the wall and a chewed bed frame - which naturally the unhappy couple use as their bedroom - it also has the eponymous psychedelic wallpaper. But it doesn't sing as a short story, it's workman like. Great idea, average execution.
Profile Image for Hazal Çamur.
172 reviews202 followers
March 15, 2021
Sarı Duvar Kağıdı ve yazarın diğer öykülerinden sonra beklentim yüksekti, ancak kitaba başladığımda vereceğim yıldızın 2 olacağını düşünmeye başlamıştım. Sonra işler değişti, ayakları yere sağlam basan tespitler ardı ardına gelmeye başladı. Yine de bazı şeyler bu kitap için eksik kaldı.

Yazarın öykülerini okuduktan sonra bu denli tipleme seviyesinde kalmış, bir karaktere dönüşememiş kişileri kaleme alabileceğini hiç düşünmemiştim. Ancak kitabın 3 erkek karakteri gerçekten rahatsız edici bir eksikliğe sahip. Hepsi bir şeyleri temsil etmesi için yaratılmış, bunda bir sakınca yok. Ancak kendi karakterleri olan kişilere dönüşemiyorlar.

Terry, maço erkeklerin komik bir örneği. Oysa ki bu kitap mizah amaçlamıyor. Jeff için durum daha da trajik. Yazar birkaç yerde Jeff'in asla "pısırık, ana kuzusu, hanım evladı" (bunlar yazarın kendi kelimeleridir) vs. olmadığını açıklıyor. Çünkü açıklamak zorunda hissediyor kendini. Bu öyle bariz ki... Jeff karakteri gerçekten de yazar tarafından kadınları bir rüyada yaşatan, idealize eden erkeği temsil edeyim derken itici bir hale sokulmuş. Yazar da bunu fark etmiş olacak ki birkaç kez "yok yok, hiç öyle değil" deme gereği duymuş.

Kadınlar Ülkesi'nin kendisi ise bir ütopya. Bu ülkede yaşayan kadınların, oraya gelen 3 erkekten bizim dünyamızı dinlerlerken sordukları sorular çok yerinde. Olaya getirdikleri bakış açısı düşündürücü. Kitabın bu kısımları aradığım şeyi bana veriyordu. Altını çizdiğim bazı cümleler bile oldu, ancak Kadınlar Ülkesi'nin kendisinde de benim için bir gariplik vardı.
Öyle ulvi kadınlardan oluşuyor ki burası, sanki insanın doğasında iyilikle birlikte yer alan kötülük göz ardı ediliyor. Ayrıca buradaki kadınlar öyle başarılı sistemler kurmuş ve insanları imkansız şekilde başarılı eğitmiş ki arada hiç fire vermemişler. İnsan düşünüldüğünde bu mümkün mü? Tamam, bu bir ütopya. Evet, ataerkil düzenin kurduğu getirdiği savaş ve yıkım yadsınamayacak boyutta. Peki sadece kadınlardan oluşan bir ülkede gerçekten hiç mi suç yok? Herkes mi anne olmak istiyor sahi?

Bu paragrafta yazacaklarım kitabın yazıldığı dönemin ötesinde kalacak, onu kabul ediyorum :). Kitabın kadınlık tanımlarından en öne çıkanı da annelik. Ülkedeki kadınlar hayatın her alanında varlar, ama anne olmayı istemeyen hiçbir kadından bahsedilmiyor. Bu annelik ülkenin sistemine güzel katkı sağlıyor, onu inkar edemem. Öte yandan, kendilerini de bir şekilde çocuklarla ve bebeklerle tamamlıyorlar. Bebeksiz/çocuksuz tamamlanmamış mı oluyorlar yani? Oysa ilginç biçimde nüfus kontrolüne de sahipler. Bu kısım kafamı epey karıştırdı.

Erkek karakterleri fazlasıyla can sıkıcı, ülkenin kendisi düşündürücü, yer yer büyüleyici ama imkansız kusursuzluğuyla bazı soru işaretleri yaratıyor.

Son olarak, kitaptan sanki seksi ataerkil düzenin getirdiği bir dayatmaymış izlenimi edindim. Hormonlar ve bedensel ihtiyaçlar kisvesi altında sunulan bir dayatma. Yine bunu da yazıldığı döneme bağlıyorum. Kadın cinselliği o dönem için fazla radikal kalıyor olabilir.

Çeviri ve editörlük genel olarak güzeldi. Ben yine de yazarı Sarı Duvar Kağıdı ve diğer öyküleriyle hatırlamayı tercih edeceğim.
Profile Image for Repellent Boy.
488 reviews507 followers
December 12, 2022
3,5. Matriarcadia nos habla de una sociedad utópica donde solo existen mujeres. Estas han creado una comunidad donde la sororidad y el reparto de tareas son sus principales características. A este país libre e infinitamente más avanzado que el resto del mundo, llegarán de pronto tres hombres, de muy diferentes carácteres, pero todos obsesionados con la misma idea: no puede ser posible que exista una sociedad donde solo convivan mujeres, la mujer necesita al hombre para salir adelante.

Lo primero que hay que señalar después de leer Matriarcadia es lo enormemente avanzada a su tiempo que fue Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Este libro se publico en 1915, y la autora toca temas que a la sociedad actual aún le cuesta entender, y lo hace desde un punto de vista feminista, desmontando clichés y actitudes machistas, con una ironía tan sutil, que mientras leía el libro me daban ganas de parar y aplaudirle.

Mis partes favoritas eran esas escenas en las que alguno de estos tres machirulos, decía algo respecto a las mujeres, o sobre las actitudes que se achacan a ellas simplemente por serlo, y como las mujeres de este avanzado país les cortaban el discurso con un solo comentario o reflexión, no solo tirando el argumento de estos por el suelo, sino que también ridiculizándolo. Me ha gustado mucho ver como los tres personajes masculinos son presentados como muy diferentes, pero los tres pecan de machista, aunque de diferentes maneras. Uno trata a las mujeres como objetos sin inteligencia a los que conquistar, otro las santifica como seres santos e inmaculados, sin ningún tipo de identidad propia, y el tercero y narrador de esta historia, usa todo el tiempo un tono paternalista hacia ellas.

Lo que me ha chafado algo la experiencia es, precisamente, el narrador de la historia. Siento que al estar contada desde el punto de vista de uno de ellos y en favor de estos, y pese a que la crítica queda lo suficientemente clara, me quedaba con ganas de saber más de estas mujeres, de escucharlas interactuar unas con otras, y descubrir un poco más del mundo que habían creado. Sin embargo, la información que nos llega todo el tiempo está sesgada por lo que el protagonista nos quiere contar y la interacción de ellas se limita a las conversaciones que mantienen con ellos. Por eso me falló un poquito, e incluso se me hizo algo cansino a veces.

El final tampoco me terminó de resultar satisfactorio, pero luego descubrí que es la segunda parte de una trilogía y justifiqué un poco ese sentimiento agridulce. Es una pena que no tengamos la obra completa de Charlotte en español, porque me parece una autora interesantísima, de la que me gustaría leerlo todo. Fue una adelantada a su tiempo y sería una pena que quedara en el olvido.
Profile Image for Daniella.
165 reviews331 followers
February 25, 2016
After a lot of thought, I've decided to give this book five stars. No, this is not a "gripping" read, nor will most of the characters stick in your mind for years to come. But this is probably the best feminist book I've ever read, not to mention the most approachable.

Besides it's page length of 144 pages, it's approachable in it's text. It takes a naturalistic approach in it's content, rather than relying on romanticism so it is very diplomatic and practical. It attacks concepts instilled in women by a male driven society, which I think is very favorable alternative to a male reader since it absolutely does not attack or belittle men on an individual basis. In fact the characters in this entirely female society are incredibly open to the three men that come into their town, and treat them as equals even though they don't add anything at all to their society.
That being said, this book is delightfully savage when it comes to quotes. It was written in 1915 and I daresay that it describes our society almost better than feminist books do a hundred years later. Virginity, submissiveness, rape, nonworking women are all things women in Herland have never experienced in their women-powered society (all of the babies are born out of immaculate conception, so there are no men there at all). So when these topics are brought up by the men from America, these women question them with genuine curiosity and openness. And its hilarious to see the men turn red and dodge questions that they can't seem to answer because I swear, if you asked a man today you'd get the same flustered answers.

Overall this book explores the concept of feminism in a very timid yet complete way. You don't feel like ideas are slammed down your throat at all, nor do you feel like hating men. I highly recommend this book to any woman because, even if we are feminists, living in a male-driven society can be discouraging. So while we talk about how we can be strong if given the chance, there's always that doubt in the back of our minds. This book SHOWS us how women can be strong and exactly what a society would look like if it were run by women. And trust me, the women are badass from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,864 reviews371 followers
July 25, 2020
What a great piece of feminist writing! Not exactly what I was expecting in a book published in 1915. It starts out rather like an H. Rider Haggard novel (as I suppose it was intended to), with three young men adventuring far from home, spoiling for exploration. They have all the stereotypical male entitlement issues, but three very different personalities.

Terry is the “man's man" among them and Gilman sets him up as quite the piece of work. She must have someone specific in mind as she created him, because she takes such obvious pleasure in skewering this character. He is absolutely convinced of male supremacy, that women exist to be submissive and subservient. In short, he's a misogynist asshole. Jeff is the Southern gentleman who is depicted as being rather worshipful with regard to women, putting them on a pedestal. Van is midway between these two extremes, more intelligent, and much more reasonable. Gilman tests them all when they find themselves in custody in a matriarchal society.

Gilman depicts Herland as a real utopia, filled with reasonable, happy, hard working women. They reproduce parthenogenetically, limiting their numbers by will power (not allowing the urge to have child taking over their lives, distracting themselves through work). They are strong physically through plenty of outdoor activity, they are all invested in child rearing, and they all contribute willingly to their society. There were several facets of this situation that really didn't ring true to me. The whole birth control through distracting work is just too good to be true! If only it could be controlled so easily! But what I just couldn't fathom was the asexual nature of the society—they are descended from regular, sexually reproducing humans, yet had no libido whatsoever. No lesbianism, no strong sexual attraction to these three men who are dropped in their midst.

Obviously, the author is well acquainted with the mythological Amazons and is creating a female version of them. Literature written by men makes Amazons into sexual conquests, a bunch of women just waiting for men to arrive and fulfill them (or conquer them, which is understood to be much the same thing). Gilman's version are completely self sufficient and look at the men, especially Terry, with a jaundiced eye. She exposes femininity as a social construct designed to control women and masculinity as an excuse for male bad behaviour.

For a short novel, it packs in a lot of thoughtful ideas. Well worth your time should you choose to read it.

Cross posted at my blog:

Profile Image for Veronique.
1,234 reviews169 followers
May 2, 2021
Re-read 2021

Thought-provoking read. I had read 'The Yellow Wallpaper', which I really liked, and wondered how Gilman would envision a society made up entirely of women. The form of an adventure story fitted the purpose, reminding me of Rider Haggard's stories, especially with the first person narrative and its limited point of view. Having three men representing broadly three types of masculinity was also a good idea if simplistic.

I find this novella quite naive on many aspects, but I cannot fault the author for taking her reasoning into a completely different route that addresses/challenges many concepts and beliefs, which did make me think. She reminded me of Dorothy L. Sayers in giving women the right to be human and not just female, which is what men have. It does make you wonder what is feminine and what is masculine. Are those traits we take for granted just made up ones? It seems so. We treat boys and girls differently from the moment they are born and I don't suppose this will change unless it is addressed from that moment.
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 6 books176 followers
June 9, 2013
Written in 1915 and serialised in her paper, this is a fairly funny description of three men landing in a country where there are only women -- a land of cooperation, peace, prosperity, wisdom and achievement. The humour lies in the misconceptions of the men as to women's capacities, and their constant bumping against all of the horrible poverty and injustices in the world that they take for granted. It's quite a fascinating glimpse into the period, and there is much to love about a feminist socialist utopian novel like this. Of course, it is hell of racist, dismissing all of the South American savages out of hand. It envisions that desire and sex would die away completely in a society without men -- not quite homophobic I don't think, just rather painfully ignorant/innocent. Worth reading for all of its contradictions, especially as it's a quick mostly enjoyable read with only a few cringeworthy moments that are the kind we do well to remember are part of feminist history (and sadly some of its present).
Profile Image for Michelle.
839 reviews26 followers
March 8, 2012
I'm not going to rate this book for its entertainment factor, because I don't think that was Gilman's main purpose (and it wasn't that entertaining anyway). I found so many things fascinating about Herland.

My notes:

I was interested to see that Gilman was more trapped in masculine culture and language than we are today (we're making progress, good!). For example, it seemed to be a compliment to her to describe the women of Herland as being like boys--does that show her opinion or the limited ways to praise? (104). Men-like women are above normal women (37). Is being "neuter" (115) Gilman's solution? But then again, what is normal? When describing the men's opinions of women, Gilman (perhaps purposely) leaves out the opinion of the narrator--is that so she won't lose the reader's trust for him? The narrator does slip in the idea that "femininity" is simply a way to please men instead of a natural characteristic (77).

Gilman writes during the history of Herland that "Nothing but earthquakes could destroy such architecture--huge solid blocks, holding by their own weight. They must have had efficient workmen and enough of them in those days" (73). Is that her own bias slipping in, or is that an artful way to show the narrator's true bias?

Gilman does a fine job of making her narrator male, writing things like, "We talk fine things about women, but in our hearts we know that they are very limited beings--most of them. We honor them for their functional powers, even while we dishonor them by our use of it; we honor them for their carefully enforced virtue, even while we show by our own conduct how little we think of that virtue; we value them, sincerely, for the perverted maternal activities which make our wives the most comfortable of servants, bound to us for life with the wages wholly at our own decision, their whole business, outside of the temporary duties of such motherhood as they may achieve, to meet our needs in every way" (156). Also, "All their wide mutual love, all the subtle interplay of mutual friendship and service, the urge of progressive thought and invention, the deepest religious emotion, every feeling and every act was related to this great central Power, to the River of Life pouring through them, which made them the bearers of the very Spirit of God" (155). Also, "What is this miracle by which a woman, even in your arms, may withdraw herself, utterly disappear till what you hold is as inaccessible as the face of a cliff?" (153).

I also found it interesting to see that Gilman's style of feminism included a cherishing of motherhood that quite left out any man whatsoever. Even in a culture without men, Gilman can't let go of women as mothers (78). Herland women claim that a group of mothers instinctively knows what's best for everyone, especially children (121). The relationship between men and women is described as "coming home to mother . . . It was a sense of getting home; of being clean and rested; of safety and yet freedom; of love that was always there, warm like sunshine in May, not hot like a stove or a featherbed--a love that didn't irritate and smother" (156). Yikes. Wrong kind of love, Gilman. I do like, however, that the men are also looked at in terms of parenthood, and that working is considered everyone's job. Men are treated as the male cats/pets, kept under surveillance (72).

I didn't get the weird claim that most dogs are males and women don't really like dogs? Heh? (70).

We always think that feminists must also be enlightened in other ways, but perhaps not. "White" is superior (72). Racism of Gilman's time?

I disagree that men "seek only for what we euphoniously term 'the joys of love'" (152) and the implication that only men seek those "joys."

Herland's religion: doing things from past generations, not for them, not revealed, unchanging religion. Not needing to live forever because life goes on in children. Cafeteria style: choosing what they wanted, no "respect for the past" (127). No ordinances exist here, like marriage (though the reason for the lack of that one is obvious). The folly of the notion "that if life was smooth and happy, people would not enjoy it" (121) is kind of a good wake-up call.

Women are portrayed as emotionally strong, and yet Ellador runs away very upset upon hearing about abortion. I like that she can show her feelings, but I don't feel like Ellador lives up to the masculine, emotionless state that Gilman has described.

To Herland women, stay-at-home moms are imprisoned. Gilman must think that. But she suggests that women should reproduce without men (85) and also leaves no suggestion as to how to reach ideals such as education (82). Unless, of course, her suggestion is to completely eliminate men.

I really wish Gilman had written a sequel of what happened once they got out of Herland and how soon it was before Ellador went RUNNING back.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,050 followers
December 8, 2013
For a feminist tale, this book spends an awfully disproportionate amount of time focusing on how the three male visitors to Herland view the women there. They deal with their misconceptions about women and allow the women to experiment with them in considering moving back to a bi-sexual society (they have been reproducing with the air, apparently, birthing babies without men.)

The problem with utopias is that there is little conflict. The women have a fully-functioning society with brilliant achievements in food production, education, and health. They make changes when things aren't working, their religion is unifying instead of divisive, and everyone has a place and a value.

The only conflict are the annoying men who don't belong, and they don't have any power in the world, so they are easily disposed of. Or could be, if necessary.

The culture revolves around motherhood. Motherhood is almost divine. To me, this is the opposite of feminism. It surely isn't the only reason women are placed on the earth, and I don't even believe the author thinks so. It seems short-sighted. Is it feminism to focus on motherhood? Or is it feminist because the motherhood is a shared, community-based venture? Perhaps she is Hillary Clinton taking a village?
March 21, 2018
Being as this is feminist literature, and I also consider myself a feminist, I feel like I should have enjoyed this more than I did. I'm going to come right out with the main criticism that I have for this book. I think there was way too much time spent focusing on the three male's that visited Herland, and their actual opinions of the women they found there. Also, the women have apparently been reproducing with thin air, having babies with a lack of men. I suppose I just found it bizarre.

Apparently this is the very first feminist utopian novel that has ever been written, and Gilman spends a lot of time discussing women, the ill treatments of women etc.. It does make good discussion material and was rather thought provoking. I think essentially, I just expected more from this.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews390 followers
October 29, 2021
I liked the concept of this but found way outdated and sometimes even ridiculous standards in this book for me to enjoy. I think I should focus on more modern depictions of this idea and concept as I'm sure they where splendid in their time and revolutionary. It's just don't gel that well with modern views and feminism. But that's what humans and society does. Evolve over time even if it's painfully slow in some areas
Profile Image for Robert Beveridge.
2,402 reviews157 followers
January 22, 2008
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 remembered for only a single short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." Now, having had the distinct displeasure of having read a second piece of Gilman's writing, I have to wonder if that obscurity isn't well-deserved.

Herland is everything that "The Yellow Wallpaper" is not. It is boring, overly expository, dry as dust, and most importantly, didactic. It is didactic in the same way your history teacher who spoke in a monotone is didactic; you end up hating the delivery so much that whatever's being said gets tuned out along with the noise. It doesn't help that Herland is a vastly inferior knockoff of such nineteenth-century fantastic-journey novels as Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, James DeMille's A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder, or Doyle's The Lost World. All three of those novels had the same generally socially conscious bent as does Herland, and held up a dystopian land to our own to show us where our own civilization is lacking. But all three of them (even Poe, who despised the novel form and never wrote in it again) had a basic understanding of the structure of the adventure novel and how to keep things moving while passing along their message about what's wrong with society. Gilman lacks this facility, and what's worse, she's of that strip of author who feels that, in order to make sure the message is clearly heard by the reader, she must go out of her way and add a clarifying sentence. After all, the reader is far too stupid to pick up on inferences.

The popularity of The Yellow Wallpaper and the obscurity of Gilman's other work cannot, of course, be dismissed as understood after reading only one of her other works. But Herland certainly doesn't have me straining at the leash to go looking for anything else Gilman wrote. Uniformly awful. (zero)
Profile Image for Zeliha.
169 reviews49 followers
April 8, 2021
Erkek egemen toplumlarda kadının ne kadar "evcil hayvan" muamelesi gördüğünü gözler önüne sermesi güzel ama yaratılan "mükemmel" kadınlar ülkesi de o kadar masum değildi maalesef. Bir taraf erkeğin kadına şiddetiyse diğer taraf kadının kadına şiddeti.
Profile Image for HacheC.
169 reviews87 followers
August 31, 2019
Crítica brutal al papel de la mujer en el siglo XIX y novela precursora de la ciencia ficción feminista. No puedo admirar más a Perkins Gilman.
La única pega es que en ocasiones puede resultar algo repetitiva pero no por ello Dejan de ser interesantes los debates que plplantea
Profile Image for Travis Ammons.
27 reviews16 followers
May 10, 2012
this little book should probably write a review about me. When I was in my early 20s I worked at half-price books. I found this book and put it in the fiction section as I thought it was fiction as a young man, properly so. Little did I know the true body of work the author of "The Yellow Wallpaper" had behind her before she wrote this wonderful novel.
Fast forward 20 years later - to my humbling, sad, little, Americanized midlife-(4 lack of a more accurately defining word)-crisis in 2012. I'm 40 years old & I'm finally discovering that I probably shouldn't have majored in English Lit (well actually I knew that long ago)..: but now: at the ripe, young age of four measly warp-speed decades, it's painfully obvious that I should've majored in sociology.
So as we enter 2012 four & a half months ago, I find that I am no longer reading fiction and all the books that I'm reading (or borrowing or buying or stealing) ... every single one of them is nonfictional!!
sociology psychology Jung, Stephen Hawking, Jonah Lehrer, TED stuff, etc. etc. -- I'm evening reading a book about financing and the modern state of America's economy and the backlash of the recent financial crisis!!! Who the hell could've predicted that? I know none of u who actually know me could've/would've! B4 I forget to mention the book, Jeffrey D Sachs wrote "The Price of Civilization" and I'm utterly enthralled. But I'm getting way off track.
I'm reading a Basic sociology textbook because I realized I basically was just diving into the middle of sociological studies sort of midstream. I bought the outdated text. book as I feared my reckless and spontaneous sociological research may have indeed been 2 reminiscent of a homeless man cannonballing N2 the middle of an Olympic size swimming pool at the 60 yard line. I guess you realize Now i don't do so well w/the football or sports analogies.
but there she is, right there, in chapter 1 of this sociology textbook. The basics for sociology presents Charlotte P. Gilman, author of "Herland" being praised on the pages of this sociology textbook that hadn't even reached puberty yet. But they were not talking about, "Herland." No, they were praising her for her courage for writing the words for her first work: "The Yellow Wallpaper."
it went on to say how this amazingly courageous young woman wrote in the era before woman really had the right to express their opinions vocally or in the written word. her thoughts about the fragility of the human mind and strength of the human spirit and how women were being treated unjustly in a world much too mature for such juvenile behavior. then i read much more about her and how those words eventually became the beginning is and what we know consider to be sociology.
I know this isn't much of a review on her book, "Herland," but I assure you it is worth your time and more Importantly, I assure you that when all is said and done it won't matter how many books you've read or how many of her worx are on your shelf. what you want out of this book or this review now matters not. in the end, you'll just be grateful of Gilman's struggle and perseverance.
Mostly, I assume, you'll just be, if u r not already aware of her beautiful soul, grateful that you have a relationship with this inspiring author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Profile Image for Aysegul Ozkan.
249 reviews16 followers
March 29, 2022
Yazildigi donem icin fikirler ilginc olabilir ama gunumuzde sadece o donem kadinlari neler dusunuyorlar ve kadinlar icin nasil bir utopya hayal ediyorlar diye okunabilir.
Profile Image for Aydan Yalçın.
Author 34 books108 followers
December 25, 2018

Kadınlar Ülkesi'ni çıktığı andan itibaren heyecanla okumak istedim ama araya fuarlar girdi ve bitirmem zaman aldı. Fakat sindirerek okuduğum, üzerine düşünecek zaman bulduğum için mutluyum çünkü gayet bariz olan konularda bile eşitlik üzerine çok güzel düşünceler aktarıyor.

Kitap sosyolog, gazeteci ve zengin bir iş adamından oluşan üç kaşifin bir şeyler keşfetme umuduyla çıktıkları seyahatte karşılaştıkları Kadınlar Ülkesi'nde yaşananları aktarıyor. Bu üç adam yerli halk tarafından bir efsane olarak anlatılan bu ülkeyi bulmaya kafaya koyuyor ve nitekim o ülkeyi buluyor da. Fakat karşılaştıkları görüntü hepsini şoka uğratıyor; erkeksiz üremeye devam etmek üzere evrilmiş bir kadınlar ütopyası. Bu eşsiz durumu daha iyi anlamak için onların misafiri oluyorlar. Bu misafirlik bir yıl kadar sürüyor ve onların dilini öğreniyor, adetlerini ve yaşam şartlarını incelemeye başlıyorlar.

Kadınlar Ülkesi'nin kadınlarının ağzından adeta bal damlıyor. Dış dünyadaki kadınların tembelliği, erkek egemen yaşama boyun eğişi onları afallatıyor. Bizim için doğal bir şekilde yüzyıllarca süregelen adetlerdeki ince detaylara öyle bir takılıyorlar ki, hak vermemek elde değil. Annelik konusundaki takıntıları, annelerin yücelikleri ve nitelikli, mutlu çocuk yetiştirmekteki beceleri bizim neleri yanlış yaptığımızın birer rehberi gibi. Annelik takıntısı çok hoşuma gitmedi açıkçası ama onun dışındaki kadınlık, insanlık anlayışları muazzam. Erkek egemenliği, din, Tanrı eleştirileri nokta atışı. Keşke bir kadınlar ülkesi olsa da Terry gibi adamları ardımızda bırakarak gidip orada yaşasak diyorum 😂 Çok zor olmasa gerek. Onlar gibi mucizevi bir şekilde üremesek de olur. Yeter ki kadınlar olarak dayatmalardan sıyrılıp mutluluğu ve huzuru bulalım 🌈
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,151 reviews1,119 followers
November 30, 2019
Yet another classic SF that does not age well. It might be a feminist book but clearly meant for the period when it was published. The plot was simple: three American men went exploring and found a country where there were only women. One of the men was a sexist pig, the other two were also sexist in their own less aggressive ways. They interacted and learned a lot about the history of the women and so on and so forth.

I was initially intrigued with these women who apparently lost all their notion and drive on sex - yes, no lesbians here. But most of all, I was baffled that this book was claimed by some as presenting a utopia yet there were still some unsavory elements (to me) in the Herland society, like motherhood as god/religion and focus on every aspects of life as well as their own style of eugenics.

It was a quick read nonetheless, I finished this in two hours. An interesting piece of speculative fiction - the bits on children's education was wonderful - but you won't miss any if you don't plan to read this.
Profile Image for Jennifer SK.
653 reviews19 followers
March 20, 2023
*A Woman’s World*

This is one of those books that I really do not know how to describe it apart from saying, imagine a world where all the male race were either dead or killed in war and only women remained. Hence the title ‘Herland’

It is about women who got on with life without fear of the men, conflict or war and somehow they managed by asexual means they reproduce. All the babies were female and they continued with life and were fully self sufficient.

One day 3 male explorers happen upon their land and their old fashioned ideas clash with what the role of women really are. It made me cringe when the men said only they were able to work and women belonged in the home, there was a lot of that in there.

I really cannot say I enjoyed it but I think the most fascinating thing for me is the author who was a feminist ahead of her time and had a difficult childhood, but she was a very resourceful character.
Profile Image for Dana Elizabeth.
80 reviews8 followers
May 5, 2020
(I’m solely talking about Herland in this review, although this edition also includes The Yellow Wallpaper.)

I wish I could rate this book more, because it shone in some aspects, but unfortunately it was tedious and difficult in most.

First off, I’ll start with what I liked. Mainly, that’s the themes which Perkins Gilman introduced and upheld. The way she contrasts Herland’s society with America/the Western world is embarrassing for Vandyck and demonstrates how backwards society was in 1915 and still is now. This was particularly evident in Herland’s attitude to tradition (ie: tradition is pointless and stops us from progressing).

However, the strengths of the book’s themes aren’t enough to overcome its weaknesses. I thought Van was a bland choice of narrator. While choosing one of the men as the narrator was a good choice (as we get to witness the understanding of the world held by patriarchs, and also witness that understanding get slowly blown apart), Van is the most boring narrator I’ve had to read in a while. Jeff or Terry were much better contenders; personally, I think Terry would have been the best choice considering how starkly contrasted his views are from the inhabitants of Herland.

Additionally, some of the viewpoints Perkins Gilman displays in this book are just not it. I kept having to remind myself that this was written by a white woman in 1915, so of course there would be a bias, but it was still uncomfortable to read. Indigenous folk being constantly referred to as “savages”, and the women in Herland are only excluded from that label because they are intelligent and strong. It was gross and xenophobic. Also, the idea that a society full of women would automatically place Motherhood above all else. Come on. We are good at more than just giving birth and being caring. While the novel did successfully challenge the male idea of femininity and womanhood, the basis of Herland’s religion and society was not the one.

Not to mention that this book is about men discovering a whole new country and society, yet it feels like literally nothing happened. Perkins Gilman failed to balance an engaging plot with meaningful themes and symbols, so it was a real trudge to get through. Herland is a fairly short length, clocking in just shy of 200 pages, and it feels like Perkins Gilman bit off more than she could chew. She attempted to delve into many aspects of Herland’s society, except the novel is too short for this to be done in a significant way. As such, it felt unfocused and ungrounded multiple times.

Overall, this book has its merits, but I think they’re outweighed by its downfalls. I wouldn’t read it again, and I’m not really sure I’d recommend it to others either. As far as feminist literature goes, there are other much more profound and engaging novels than this one.
Profile Image for Tülay Tellioğlu (morrkitap).
314 reviews27 followers
May 20, 2019
Tam da “Acaba bilimkurgu klasikleri bana göre değil mi?” diye düşünüp üzülürken ruhuma ilaç gibi gelen harika bir kitaptı Kadınlar Ülkesi. Büyük beklenti ile başladım ve sonu haricinde beklentimi fazlasıyla karşılayan bir kitap oldu.
Kitap, erkekler olmadan kadınların nasıl ayakta kalabileceğini ve bu ayakta kalışın öyle zorlama değil ciddi ciddi, sağlam bir ayakta kalış olduğunu kalın çizgilerle belirtiyor. Ayrıca okuyucuya, gerçek bir medeniyetin yolunun annelik duygusundan geçtiğini bilimkurguyu kullanarak anlattığı için yazara büyük hayranlık beslemekteyim. Annelik duygusun insanlığa ait en saf en temiz duygu olduğu bilinen bir gerçek ve bu saf duygulara toplumdaki her bir bireyin sahip olması demek kötücül eylemlerin yok denecek kadar aza inmesi demektir. Tabi bu kadar ütopik bir düşünce maalesef ki sadece bilimkurgularda olur ve yazar bu konuda harika bir iş çıkarmış.
Kitabı okurken kendi toplumuma eleştirel gözle bakmamam mümkün değildi. Çünkü her anneler gününde Neşet Ertaş’ın, “Kadınlar insandır, biz insanoğlu” sözünü sosyal medyada paylaşıp ertesi gün kadın şöyle giyinmeli yok böyle konuşmalı diye ahkam kesenlerin baskısından sıyrılmış bir toplum nasıl olur diye düşünülmüş ve ortaya bu eser çıkmış gibi.
Kadınlar ülkesini ziyaret eden bu üç beyefendinin gördükleri medeniyet, huzur ve içtenlik karşısında neredeyse küçük dillerini yutacak olmaları da bu görüşün sadece ülkemizde değil nerdeyse tüm dünyada genel geçer bir hal aldığını gösteriyor. Kitabı okurken bu düşüncenin farkına varmak biraz canımı acıttı fakat yazarın yarattığı bu harika dünya beni öyle bir içine çektiki son sayfaya gelene kadar kendi dünyamızın yobaz düşüncelerine üzülmeyi bir kenara bıraktım. Kısacası son sayfaya gelene kadar harika bir kitap okudum fakat son sayfa, kitap boyu yaşadığım duygu seline çekilen bir set gibiydi. Çok düz bitti. Gerçi nasıl bitse daha iyi olurdu orasını ben bile bilmiyorum ama bu son bana biraz yavan geldi. Her neyse sonuç olarak Bilim Kurgu Klasikleri serisi ile yıldızı barışmayanlara ve seriye yeni başlayacak olanlara kesinlikle tavsiye ettiğim müthiş bir kitap. Keyifli okumalar.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,261 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.