The Common Reader, First Series

Overview

Woolf’s first and most popular volume of essays. This collection has more than twenty-five selections, including such important statements as “Modern Fiction” and “The Modern Essay.” Edited and with an Introduction by Andrew McNeillie; Index.

Virginia Woolf's first and most popular volume of essays, reissued with notes and index.

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Overview

Woolf’s first and most popular volume of essays. This collection has more than twenty-five selections, including such important statements as “Modern Fiction” and “The Modern Essay.” Edited and with an Introduction by Andrew McNeillie; Index.

Virginia Woolf's first and most popular volume of essays, reissued with notes and index.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780701219079
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/29/1992
  • Pages: 272

Meet the Author

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882–1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.

Biography

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her stepsister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favorite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid. With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938). Her major novels include Mrs. Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941).

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Adeline Virginia Stephen Woolf (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 25, 1882
    2. Place of Birth:
      London
    1. Date of Death:
      March 28, 1941
    2. Place of Death:
      Sussex, England

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2000

    An Uncommonly Good Read

    You start out wanting to like this author. she has a witty, humorous way with words, a reverence for the written word and a telling grasp of what distinguishes writers of various ages. Of Elizabethan damatists, she writes: 'Theirs is the word coining genius, as if thought plunged into a sea of words and came up dripping.' She writes about Classical Greek dramatists as one who understands what separates them from all writers who follow: 'To understand him,' she says of Aeschylus,'it is necessary to take that dangerous leap through the air without the support of words, for words, when opposed to such a blast of meaning, must give out, must be blown astray.' For her, the best writing, whether that of Aeschylus or Shakespeare, has a meaning that defies words, a meaning that we perceive in the mind -- without words. Coming down the ages and pausing to consider Jane Austen, she captures the essential writer in terms that encourage and enlarge: 'Think away the surface animation, the likeness to life, and there remains, to provide a deeper pleasure, an exquisite discrimination of human values.' Along with her interest in the well known, she has a teasing regard for near greats and nobodies, whose seldom touched thoughts rest near oblivion. Of the memoirs of one, Laetitia Pilkington, she writes: 'the dust lies heavy on her tomb; nobody has read her since early in the last century when a reader left off in the middle and marked her place with a faded list of goods and groceries.' Nor is it just to have a cheap chuckle that she looks at such relative unknowns, but to give us a look at their frequently bereft and pained lives. Laetitia Pilkington was a woman badly used by men in her life. Woolf has a compassion for such people. You begin by wanting to like this woman who claims it's the common reader who makes or breaks authors. As you read on, you find yourself happily taken in and smiling at her wit, humor and insight.

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