It is one of the dualities and aberrations of history that Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers of this great democratic experiment we call the United States of America were slaveholders. The fact that Jefferson most likely, on most days had someone (a slave no less) who cooked his meals, ironed his clothes and fetched his water informs our contextual reading of the Declaration of Independence but in no way diminishes the forward thinking and revolutionary content of the words he crafted.

Not that I would put the two in exactly the same league, but given Virginia Woolf’s significant contributions to 20th Century fiction-and not just women’s fiction-I am willing to look on the fact that she had domestic help (as referenced in the previous posting) with much the same irony that I view Jefferson. The world is an imperfect place and progress has to start somewhere. Many times this progress and change starts in the written word penned by imperfect persons who seek an ideal. I am willing to give both Jefferson and Woolf the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Read Woolf for her innovative use of stream of consciousness and respect her for working on par with her male contemporaries literary giants including James Joyce. She may not have cooked her own meals but she did typeset by hand the first edition of The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. If that is the trade-off that had to be made, I am glad someone else was minding the house.