Now Mary turns to the section of her bookshelf for women writers of today.
Women aren't just writing novels anymore: they're writing histories, works about archaeology, you name it.
We told you Mary's bookshelf is enormous. Also: weird way to organize your books, right?
She randomly picks out Life's Adventure by the (fictional) author Mary Carmichael.
Uh-oh. Something's wrong with the sentences.
First, they seem "interrupted." Something is hindering "the smooth gliding of sentence after sentence."
And then the plot seems weird, too. She's messing with "the expected sequence" (5.3).
Mary's about to tell us what she read next when... she interrupts herself to make sure that there "are no men present" (5.4).
Once she makes sure that "Sir Chartes Biron" isn't hiding behind a curtain, she reveals that two female characters "like" one another.
The point is that, before this book, women could only be jealous of one another or not have a relationship at all. They were "not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex" (5.5).
In other words, women in literature never had a relationship because they just liked each other (or even hated each other). There had to be some kind of man involved.
(Good think that's not true anymore, right? Well. This seems like a good time to bring up the Bechdel Test.)
She pauses to imagine if the opposite were true and realizes that there wouldn't much literature left if men were only seen by and in relation to women.
Catching herself giving props to women, Mary checks herself.
Since women's lives have been lived privately—that is, not recorded in books—for nearly all of recorded history, it's hard to see if women deserve praise or not.
Mary thinks about how much "unrecorded life" there is out there (5.14).
The chapter ends with Mary imagining Mary Carmichael as a horse that has to jump over fences as male busybodies shout distracting criticism.
While Life's Adventure is pretty good, it will take another hundred years before Mary Carmichael (or, more accurately, the women who come after her) will be poets.