The old Saturday night skit (“It’s Pat!”) aside, there is much to adore about Virginia Woolf’s gender-bending book, “Orlando” (once you become at peace with the stilted language, the paragraph after paragraph of descriptive phases of life in a 325-room London castle, the absurdity of the concept of a man waking up in a woman’s body): the idea that as a woman she doesn’t have “to crack a man over the head… or draw my sword and run him through the body.. or sentence a man to death,” that with skirts she has privileges, that with exposed legs she has utter and complete control over men,” but the LOL line for me came when she — Orlando — realized that as a woman she was “unversed in geography and found mathematics intolerable and held some caprices which are more common among women than men, as, for instance, that to travel south is to travel down hill.”
Or this observation: “The man has his hand free to seize his sword; the woman must use hers to keep the satins from slipping from her shoulders. The man looks the world full in the face, as if it were made for his uses and fashioned to his liking. The woman takes a sidelong glance at it, full of subtlety, even of suspicion.”
I know. I know. Total stereotyping, but I, for one, still think that to travel south is to travel down hill.
Oh, Virginia. You were so smart.