Imagining Virginia Woolf: An Experiment in Critical Biography

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Overview

"This book is a lively, original, and very interesting personal reading of Virginia Woolf, sensitively done and well-written. It is clever and illuminating to approach Woolf through the idea of the writerly personae, rather than biographically or in more conventionally critical ways. I enjoyed this book very much and was impressed and refreshed by it."—Hermione Lee, author of Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton

"Few critics have the skill to make us see anew; few have taken Woolf's love of words and her own study of their characteristics as seriously as DiBattista does here. By the time one finishes the book, DiBattista has given us a new perspective on Woolf, her love of language, and her sense of the relationship between words, the self, and the personalities inscribed therein."—Brenda R. Silver, Dartmouth College

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Editorial Reviews

The Age
What interests Maria DiBattista is not who Woolf actually was—the flesh and blood woman—but the multiple personalities that emanate from her books. Reading a writer familiar to us is, in many ways, no different from seeing people we know, she says. In both cases, the person we think we know is a composite of the various facets of them we have glimpsed.
— Fiona Capp
English Literature in Transition
[W]hen people ask me about biographies about Woolf, I will recommend this one. Certainly, it cannot replace the more traditional biographies DiBattista acknowledges in her introduction, but it is an important supplement to them. My own understanding of the traditional biographies is more nuanced, a result of reading DiBattista's book.
— Molly Youngkin
Virginia Woolf Bulletin
[T]his short book is full of insights. . . . I recommend it to you; it is a pleasure to read.
— Stuart N. Clarke
Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
[T]he more vivid impressions generated by DiBattista's study: namely, the reader's sensation of having been shown 'Virginia's Room' in a new light, as well as the realization that Woolf's 'room of one's own' is now a multitude of rooms, imaginative spaces where her readers have the freedom to hang looking-glasses in whatever odd corners they may choose.
— Rosemary Joyce
The Age - Fiona Capp
What interests Maria DiBattista is not who Woolf actually was—the flesh and blood woman—but the multiple personalities that emanate from her books. Reading a writer familiar to us is, in many ways, no different from seeing people we know, she says. In both cases, the person we think we know is a composite of the various facets of them we have glimpsed.
English Literature in Transition - Molly Youngkin
[W]hen people ask me about biographies about Woolf, I will recommend this one. Certainly, it cannot replace the more traditional biographies DiBattista acknowledges in her introduction, but it is an important supplement to them. My own understanding of the traditional biographies is more nuanced, a result of reading DiBattista's book.
Virginia Woolf Bulletin - Stuart N. Clarke
[T]his short book is full of insights. . . . I recommend it to you; it is a pleasure to read.
Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature - Rosemary Joyce
[T]he more vivid impressions generated by DiBattista's study: namely, the reader's sensation of having been shown 'Virginia's Room' in a new light, as well as the realization that Woolf's 'room of one's own' is now a multitude of rooms, imaginative spaces where her readers have the freedom to hang looking-glasses in whatever odd corners they may choose.
From the Publisher
"DiBatistta (Fast-Talking Dames) pieces together a portrait of Virginia Woolf as experienced by readers. . . . For general fans of literary criticism or of Woolf's writing in particular, DiBattista's experiment will offer an intriguing perspective on Woolf's relationship to her art and her audience."—Publishers Weekly

"Like Anne Fernald's Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader, DiBattista's study extends understanding not only of Woolf's craft and intellectual life but also of reading practices in general."—Choice

"What interests Maria DiBattista is not who Woolf actually was—the flesh and blood woman—but the multiple personalities that emanate from her books. Reading a writer familiar to us is, in many ways, no different from seeing people we know, she says. In both cases, the person we think we know is a composite of the various facets of them we have glimpsed."—Fiona Capp, The Age

"[W]hen people ask me about biographies about Woolf, I will recommend this one. Certainly, it cannot replace the more traditional biographies DiBattista acknowledges in her introduction, but it is an important supplement to them. My own understanding of the traditional biographies is more nuanced, a result of reading DiBattista's book."—Molly Youngkin, English Literature in Transition

"[T]his short book is full of insights. . . . I recommend it to you; it is a pleasure to read."—Stuart N. Clarke, Virginia Woolf Bulletin

"[T]he more vivid impressions generated by DiBattista's study: namely, the reader's sensation of having been shown 'Virginia's Room' in a new light, as well as the realization that Woolf's 'room of one's own' is now a multitude of rooms, imaginative spaces where her readers have the freedom to hang looking-glasses in whatever odd corners they may choose."—Rosemary Joyce, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

Choice
Like Anne Fernald's Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader, DiBattista's study extends understanding not only of Woolf's craft and intellectual life but also of reading practices in general.
Choice
Like Anne Fernald's Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader, DiBattista's study extends understanding not only of Woolf's craft and intellectual life but also of reading practices in general.
Publishers Weekly
Taking an approach that combines biography and literary criticism to draw out an abstract of the author's life and personae, independent of historical fact, Princeton English professor DiBatistta (Fast-Talking Dames) pieces together a portrait of Virginia Woolf as experienced by readers. Taking one of modern writing's most famous authors, DiBatistta examines the "figment of the author" that coalesces through the author's presence in her own writings, and how readers get to know this representative Woolf. The personae DiBatttista identifies and examines are the Author, the Critic, the World Writer, the Adventurer and the youthful Sibyl of the Drawing Room. For general fans of literary criticism or of Woolf's writing in particular, DiBattista's experiment will offer an intriguing perspective on Woolf's relationship to her art and her audience, but casual readers will find it frustratingly cryptic; it doesn't help that Woolf herself is an author who elicits extreme reactions, further limiting the work's appeal.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691138121
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 12/29/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Maria DiBattista is professor of English and comparative literature at Princeton University. Her books include "Virginia Woolf's Major Novels" and "Fast-Talking Dames".
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

THE DEMON OF READING Chapter 1. The Figment of the Author 3
Chapter 2. Personalities 14
WOOLF'S PERSONALITIES Chapter 3. The Sibyl of the Drawing Room 41
Chapter 4. The Author 64
Chapter 5. The Critic 92
Chapter 6. The World Writer 119
Chapter 7. The Adventurer 140

EPILOGUE Chapter 8. Anon Once More 169
Notes 173
Index 191

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