Five words from the blurb: female, artist, experiment, conceals, identity
The Blazing World investigates society’s attitude to women; showing how preconceptions affect our opinion of work produced by the different sexes. The book centres on Harriet Burden, an artist who decides to conceal her identity and pretend that her works of art have been created by men. Through a series of texts, compiled after her death, the reader discovers her motivations and how the secret changed the way her art was received.
The writing in this book was fantastic! The book raised important questions about society’s treatment of women and I found myself highlighting many different passages:
Every page was brimming with new ideas and I was interested in events throughout. The fragmented approach meant I wasn’t emotionally invested in the characters, but this didn’t seem to matter. The intelligence of the writing shone through and I enjoyed reading a book that treated the reader with respect; introducing complex thoughts without pausing to explain them. It was more like a collection of essays than a novel, but the concept was so strong that I found myself thinking about certain aspects long after finishing it. This is very unusual for me as I often struggle with books that don’t have a strong narrative thread. It is a testament to the quality of the writing that I remained engaged throughout.
Another thing I loved about the book was the way the Hustvedt referenced herself in it. Authors often come across badly when they try to include themselves in their work, so I was charmed when she described herself as “an obscure novelist and essayist”. I really hope this book provides her with the publicity she needs to gain the wider audience she deserves.
I have no interest in art and I normally dislike books with a fragmented structure, but the quality of the writing overcame these issues. That is a rare occurrence and the reason why I highly recommend this book.