The exception is her writing on the visual arts: in this volume her re-evaluation of her friend Roger Fry and the “racket and din” of post-impressionism shows her at her best, but her worst is here too in the occasional whiff of the school debating society ( .).This is the sixth and final annotated volume of Woolf’s complete essays, edited (as was volume 5) by Stuart Clarke. “The old problem, how to keep the flight of the mind, yet be exact,” she mused in 1940.
The exception is her writing on the visual arts: in this volume her re-evaluation of her friend Roger Fry and the “racket and din” of post-impressionism shows her at her best, but her worst is here too in the occasional whiff of the school debating society ( .).
After the war, Woolf enthused, hedges would vanish, class hierarchies disappear and everyone stand together on a “common ground” of literature.
The rhetoric may sound passionate, but as an essay does it convince?
Edited by Stuart N Clarke Chatto and Windus/The Hogarth Press, 736pp.
£35 A GOOD ESSAY, Virginia Woolf wrote in 1922, “should draw its curtain around us”, which is a lovely description of the form.
' Rebecca West) This collection shows Woolf's genius as a critic and essayist: as well as displaying her perceptive understanding of writers and their work, it also offers us an important insight into her creative mind.
Continuing the work of former editor Andrew Mc Neillie, Stuart N.She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography.On 28 March 1941, a few months before the publication of her final novel, Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf committed suicide.Her essays informed her fiction, and vice versa; this volume shows her thinking about the possibility of poeticising the novel (The Waves was the result) and in some of these pieces ('Women and Fiction', 'Women and Leisure') she considers the relationship between women, writing and society - the preoccupation that would become such a large part of her legacy.The Common Reader: Second Series comprises a significant part of this volume - it was first published in 1932 to excellent reviews. They are sensitive, acute, picturesque, humorous, and yet severe.' Vita Sackville-West; 'Is there anybody writing anywhere in the world at this moment who could surpass the essay..beautifully moulded into a form appropriate to its content that what is an authentic critical masterpiece seems as light on the mind as a song?She rarely matched the best of her contemporaries: George Orwell, with his seamless connections carrying the reader cheerfully along all kinds of unexpected routes, or Rebecca West, with her journalist’s eye for a winning phrase.More conscientious than either of these, Woolf too often simply overwrote, lumbering herself with verbiage she didn’t really need.The change is evident in pieces that highlight new fractures in Woolf’s “democratic highbrow” position, particularly published in the autumn of 1940.Based on an address to the Workers’ Educational Association, this essay should have been her swansong, with its utopian vision of cultural egalitarianism in a brave new postwar world and of England’s literary aristocracy shedding at last its “sidelong, self-centred, squinting” habits of style.It covers the 1930s, a decade in which Woolf wrote fewer essays while worrying more about to write them. As in her later novels, from Why then, might this volume be more important than its predecessors?The answer lies in the historical context of the work.