This fourth volume of the first complete edition of Virginia Woolf’s essays and reviews celebrates her maturing vitality and wonderfully reveals her prodigious reading, wit, and original intelligence. Written while she worked on To the Lighthouse and Orlando, these pieces explore subjects ranging from the world’s greatest books to obscure English lives. The Common Reader, First Series, in which she influentially revives women’s place in history, comprises a quarter of the volume. Also included are Woolf’s contributions to American journals during these years, contributions that for the first time in her career outnumbered those to the Times Literary Supplement and the Nation & Athenaeum, under Leonard Woolf’s literary editorship. The volume also provides her moving introduction to the Modern Library Edition of Mrs. Dalloway, not previously published.
In his superb notes, editor Andrew McNeillie adds variations in Woolf’s essays as they appeared in different versions; for example, he includes lines in her essay on Joseph Addison that she later omitted: “our range of delights … persuade us that the whole business of life is better worth while.” Virginia Woolf’s creativity and industry in these three years bespeak astonishing gifts, remarkable robustness, and a passion for “the whole business of life” that inspires.
Praise for previous volumes of The Essays of Virginia Woolf
“Lovely.”—The New Yorker
“Extravagantly demonstrates what we already suspected . . . that Woolf was easily the greatest literary journalist of her age.”—James Wood, The Guardian
Andrew McNeillie edited Virginia Woolf’s The Common Reader and The Second Common Reader and assisted Anne Olivier Bell in editing The Diary of Virginia Woolf. He lives in England.
It has been known for some time that Woolf was molested by her Duckworth half-brothers. Drawing on Woolf's published and unpublished writings, on writings by the Stephen family, and on the recent literature of child abuse, DeSalvo argues that these dreadful experiences are the key to Woolf's instability and crucial to her artistic vision. The author marshals her well-documented argument carefully, but it is finally too unrelenting, theoretical, and even speculative. DeSalvo's version of the Stephen household, where "incest, sexual violence, and abusive behavior were a common, rather than a singular or rare occurrence," is too exaggerated to be convincing. It is a pleasure to emerge from DeSalvo's overheated book and enter into the clarity, grace, elegance, and high critical intelligence of Volume 3 of Woolf's collected essays. Written at a time when Woolf was emerging as a mature novelist, the essays--primarily reviews of forgotten books--constantly delight and surprise, as when an assessment of two minor works remind us that the "novel is not hung upon a nail and festooned with glory, but, on the contrary, walks the high road, alive and alert, and brushes shoulders with real men and women." Bearing interestingly on the fiction Woolf was writing at the time, these excellently edited essays reconfirm her major importance as a 20th-century writer.
- Keith Cushman, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.