[David] Gilmour, a literature instructor at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College, told Random House this week he does not want women writers on his syllabus.
“I’m not interested in teaching books by women,” he says, making an exception for one female writer.
“Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories,” he says. “But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love.”
Instead, Gilmour says, “[w]hat I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.”
“I choose all material for my courses according to people whose lives I feel are vaguely close to mine, but whose work I really adore,” he said. “There are a lot of other people who are equally good writers. I don’t teach them not because they’re not equally good, but because I don’t emotionally connect with them as I do with other writers.”
“I teach middle-aged men writers not because they are better or because women are not as good,” he says in the interview with Random House. “I only teach what I adore and can communicate. I’m simply not passionately enough engaged in female writers. That’s all.”
Keeler: I notice that you don’t have many, like, books by women.
Gilmour: I’m not interested in teaching books by women. I’ve never found—Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one short story from Virginia Woolf. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would teach only the people that I truly, truly love. And, unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Um. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I try Virginia Woolf, I find she actually doesn’t work. She’s too sophisticated. She’s too sophisticated for even a third-year class. So you’re quite right, and usually at the beginning of the semester someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I’m good at is guys.
Keeler: And guys’ guys, too.
Gilmour: Yeah, very serious heterosexual guys. Elmore Leonard. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy guys. That’s a very good observation. Henry Miller. Uh. Philip Roth.
Ironically, Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse captures the existential plight of the middle aged man better than most male writers.