26 in 52: Herland: Chapters 1-4 (or 5), I believe.

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman:

So far:

Thus far, we have 3 young, scientific men who hear (on a research expedition) about a land where only women live. This is obviously every man’s dream, but they think it is only an urban legend until they meet a local who tells them the whole story and about a river that is red and blue. When the local guide shows them the river, which appears to be colored with a type of dye, they decide that they must (at sometime in the near future) return to the area and find this women-only country.

Of course they assume the country will be a primitive matriarchal society with a few men around to help, at least, in reproduction. They do not expect to see what’s actually there — a civilization that is finely cultivated with edible plants everywhere and beautiful paved roads (proof, to them, that men MUST live there).

To get there, though, they must first fly up a very steep rocky cliff. When they finally get over the rocky cliff, they see the lush, cultivated grounds and the city walls. They decide to start their exploration in the wooded area and quickly come face to face with three younger women. Neither sex is frightened by the other, but one of the men (Terry, I believe — he has a superiority complex) tries to trick them into capture with sparkly necklaces. The women are too fast and simply swipe the sparkle from his hands and run into the forest. The men pursue them and are quickly capured by a group of middle age women who act as guards. The men are taken back to their city and forced, via anesthesia, into a very peaceful captivity.

While in captivity, they are taught the women’s language. They soon learn that the women have no intention to harm them, they simply want to learn everything they can about the men’s outsider culture.

One night, Terry-with-the-superiority-complex talks the other two men into escape. They manage to get out of captivity and back to their craft, but their getaway vehicle has been sewn into fabric. The young girls they first encountered happened to be in the woods that same day and Terry tried to convince them to share their knife — they refused.

Of course, the guardwomen were tracking them from the beginning and the men are swiftly recaptured. This is when the story finally unfolds to the point where the reader gets to see how this women-only utopia has come to be.

You see, there was a war and the men of the country went to fight the war. Many of them died in battle. Finally a fortress around their civilization was build and men kept vigilant around the city. A volcanic eruption of sorts occurs and this causes many more men to die. The slaves, who have survived the war and eruption, revolt and try to kill the women who were left behind. Crazed and desperate, the women fight back (for their lives). They are successful, but are left with no men. There are male babies born shortly after the onslaught of bad luck, but they die very young.

The women were despondent, but courageous and they decide to go on with their lives the best they can. Then, one day, a woman conceives on her own. The rest of the women believe there must be a man somewhere, but the search all over and find no one. Soon enough, this woman delivers a girl and more women become pregnant. Each of the first women to become pregnant have 5 girls. These 5 girls all grow into women who also have each have 5 girls.

This is as far as I’ve gotten. I’ll update more as I read it.


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