Night and Day (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Night and Day (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Night and Day, by Virginia Woolf, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

A long neglected masterpiece, Night and Day reveals Virginia Woolf’s mastery of the traditional English novel. With its classic comic structure, minutely observed characters, and delicate irony, Woolf’s second novel has invited comparison to the works of Shakespeare, Mozart, and Jane Austen.

Set in Edwardian London, Night and Day contrasts the lives of two friends, Katherine Hilbery and Mary Datchet. Katherine is the bored, frustrated granddaughter of an eminent English poet. She lives at her parents’ home and is engaged to a prig who exemplifies the stultifying life from which she wishes to be free, until she meets a possible avenue of escape in the person of Ralph Denham. Mary Datchet, on the other hand, represents an alternative to marriage—she has been to college, lives on her own, and finds fulfillment in working for the women’s rights movement.

As the story dances delightfully among the novel’s brilliantly drawn characters, serious questions about the nature of romance arise. Is love real or illusory? Can love and marriage coexist? Is love necessary for happiness?

Rachel Wetzsteon is Assistant Professor of English at William Paterson University. She has published two books of poems, The Other Stars and Home and Away.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082123
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 161,386
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Wetzsteon is Assistant Professor of English at William Paterson University. She has published two books of poems, The Other Stars and Home and Away.

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

Read an Excerpt

From Rachel Wetzsteon’s Introduction to Night and Day

For even the most ardent devotee of modern literature, the title Night and Day is likely to bring to mind Fred Astaire professing undying love—courtesy of Cole Porter—to Ginger Rogers in the 1934 film The Gay Divorcee, rather than Virginia Woolf’s novel, her second, published in 1919. Since the book appeared, it has been the frequent target of mockery, scorn, and incomprehension—if people have paid attention to it at all. Shortly after its publication, fellow novelist Katherine Mansfield criticized the book’s “aloofness” and “air of quiet perfection,” lamented its indifference to the Great War, and incredulously exclaimed, “a novel in the tradition of the English novel . . . we had never thought to look upon its like again!” Woolf’s friend E. M. Forster wrote of the “normalised and dulled” style of the novel in his short book about her, published a year after her death. Critic D. S. Savage found it the “dullest novel in the English language.” And Woolf herself called it “interminable” and marveled in a 1938 letter to her friend Ottoline Morrell, “I can’t believe any human being can get through Night and Day.”

It is true that readers opening the book expecting the stylistic fireworks and structural innovations of Woolf’s later novels like Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and The Waves (1931) will be sorely disappointed. For at first glance, the plot of Night and Day—a young woman choosing between two suitors—is indeed simple and old-fashioned, the very sort of thing Woolf would take to task in her essays on modern fiction, and its lucid, straightforward style offers only the slenderest hints of what would follow.

So why read Night and Day? Although it is among the most consistently neglected of modern novels, it is also one of the most sadly underrated; and readers willing to set aside their expectations for a “typical” Woolf novel will be rewarded in an almost embarrassing variety of ways. They will see Woolf transfiguring people and events from her own life—her family, her marriage, her involvement in the struggle for women’s equality—into vibrant and compelling fictional form. They will watch as she turns, as Jane Austen had done before her, the “universal truth” that young women need husbands from a stale plot device into an uncertain proposition to be undermined from within. They will take pleasure in her wickedly satirical wit and her vivid descriptions of London crowds, the English countryside, and the burning political issues of the day. They will wait in suspense as she searches for a sustainable modern love, a way for women to possess both husbands and independence. And they will enjoy some of the most richly complex and intriguing characters she ever created.

When Woolf began writing Night and Day in late 1914 or early 1915, she had already published one novel, The Voyage Out (1915), as well as many essays and reviews. But she had been ill for several years, and had succumbed to a major breakdown in the first months of 1915. Work offered her a new kind of “voyage out”; as she poignantly admitted in 1930 to her friend Ethel Smyth, she started a new novel largely to keep herself healthy and distracted:

I was so tremblingly afraid of my own insanity that I wrote Night and Day mainly to prove to my own satisfaction that I could keep entirely off that dangerous ground. I wrote it, lying in bed, allowed to write only for one half hour a day (The Letters of Virginia Woolf, vol. 4, p. 231; see “For Further Reading”).

Initially Woolf intended the novel to be a sweeping study of three generations—the great Victorian poet Richard Alardyce, his daughter Mrs. Hilbery, and her daughter Katharine—but she soon decided to focus more closely on Katharine, her relationship to her family and her courtship by two very different men. Despite a major relapse in February 1916, and her fear (as she confessed to her friend Lytton Strachey) “of finishing a book on this method—I write one sentence—the clock strikes—Leonard appears with a glass of milk,” she made steady progress on the manuscript, and by March 1917 she was “well past 100,000 words.” Night and Day was finished in late 1918 and published by Duckworth the following October.

The novel’s heroine, Katharine Hilbery, has much in common with Woolf, particularly her upbringing in an exceedingly literary household. Woolf’s father, Sir Leslie Stephen (1832–1904), was one of the most distinguished men of letters of the Victorian era, the first editor of the vastly influential Dictionary of National Biography, and the frequent host, at the Stephens’ Kensington residence, to a galaxy of some of the brightest stars in the British cultural firmament. Katharine’s grandfather Richard Alardyce—on whose biography Katharine and her mother labor throughout the novel—is a Victorian of comparable eminence, and the Hilbery house, as the first chapter reveals, remains a place where writers and artists come together for conversation and refreshment. Mr. Hilbery’s literary bent—he edits the fictitious Critical Review—gives him a certain resemblance to Leslie Stephen, but the force of Alardyce’s legacy makes him a closer fictional equivalent.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 70 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 72 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A must read for Woolf lovers.

    Night and Day was the first work of fiction I read by Virginia Woolf and in this book I fell in love with her writing--which encouraged me to read her other famous works such as Orlando and Mrs.Dalloway. In this book Woolf compares and contrasts the lives of two very different woman from their intellectual abilities, their beliefs to their romances which intersects in the same man, causing one initial pain and the other eventual happiness. From that intersection the two women eventually decides on very different lives and paths for themselves. While Katherine Hilbery decides on her love for Ralph Denham and the two presumably have a happy and loving life together, Mary Datchet forgoes love for the rest of her life focusing all of her efforts, attention and time on woman suffrage movements.
    The language can be difficult at time and sometimes sentences can be paragraphs long. But any determined reader will make to the end due to the intricate plot lines, in-depth focus on characters and different points of views present in regards to women in society.

    I cherish this book and would recommend it to any 1920's fiction lover, especially to those who adore and admire Virginia Woolf.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    literary drama romance

    Introspective novel contrasting our inner dreams and feelings with our outer relationships and work. The characters were a mix of introverts and extroverts and illustrated how these two types struggle to understand one another. Although the book was more descriptive than active, it was not dark. It was actually a positive story, and one of Woolf’s more conventional plot constructions. Strong imagery, depth of characterization.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    Horrible

    This was a painful read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2012

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2008

    Addicting and Captivating

    I must say that the book Night and Day by Virginia Woolf was extremely captivating! It's one of those books that you just can't put down. The characters are easy to relate to and the all around general content of the book is thought provoking. I highly reccomend this book to anyone who loves Jane Austen's books or the works of Shakespeare himself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2007

    A Few Good Thoughts

    For those of you who have disdain for vanity publishers, as the self-published authors are occasionally called, be advised that much of Virginia Woolf¿s work was self-published through the Hogarth Press. She has been hailed as one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century and one of the foremost Modernists, though she disdained some artists in this category. Woolf is considered one of the greatest innovators in the English language. In her works she experimented with stream-of-consciousness, the underlying psychological as well as emotional motives of characters, and the various possibilities of fractured narrative and chronology. Her literary achievements and creativity are influential even today. Historic London is the setting of Night and Day. The novel and its characters center around one place in particular the Hilbery home, an eighteenth-century house built on the Thames riverfront in Chelsea, London, a house that doubles as the literary shrine for a great Victorian poet, Richard Alardyce. The emotionally strained and serious Katharine Hilbery gives an American visitor a tour of her poet grandfather's study in the presence of her former fiance. This room is both a 'religious temple' devoted to Richard Alardyce and a commercial showroom for which she is the 'show-woman' of remains not for sale. Katharine, preoccupied by the interruption of feelings into her life, guides the American through the collection inattentively, thus rendering the effusive American's enthusiasm absurd. This bewildered pilgrim and the home's other specimens--Katharine Hilbery's father, an influential editor of a literary journal her mother, an energetic though disarranged steward of her poet-father's memory and their circle of visitors who cannot abide living writers--all point to a critique of a literary establishment and its morbid maintenance of the literary past as the only worthwhile present. Night and Day is a portrait of Virginia Woolf's and (her sister) Vanessa Bell's family home at Hyde Park Gate, ruled by Leslie Stephen, who, as an influential man of letters and steward to the Victorian literary establishment, is Mr. and Mrs. Hilbery combined. ¿ ¿He received her assurance with profound joy. Quietly and steadily there rose up behind the whole aspect of life that soft edge of fire which gave its red tint to the atmosphere and crowded the scene with shadows so deep and dark that one could fancy pushing farther into their density and still farther, exploring indefinitely.¿ Woolf's reputation declined sharply after World War II, but her eminence was re-established with the surge of Feminist criticism in the 1970s. After a few more ideologically based altercations, not least caused by claims that Woolf was anti-semitic and a snob, it seems that a critical consensus has been reached regarding her stature as a novelist. Virginia Woolf's peculiarities as a fiction writer have tended to obscure her central strength. The intensity of Virginia Woolf's poetic vision elevates the ordinary, sometimes banal settings of most of her novels, even as they are often set in an environment of war. For example, Mrs. Dalloway (1925) centres on the efforts of Clarissa Dalloway, a middle-aged society woman, to organize a party, even as her life is paralleled with that of Septimus Warren Smith, a working-class veteran who has returned from the First World War bearing deep psychological scars. To the Lighthouse (1927) is set on two days ten years apart. The plot centers around the Ramsay family's anticipation of and reflection upon a visit to a lighthouse and the connected familial tensions. One of the primary themes of the novel is the struggle in the creative process that beset painter Lily Briscoe while she struggles to paint in the midst of the family drama. The novel is also a meditation upon the lives of a nation's inhabitants in the midst of war, and of the people left behind. The Waves (1931) presents a group of six friends whose reflections, which

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2006

    Wow!

    This book, although not written in the most well-known Virginia Woolf style, glows with a uniqueness of its own. In some places, it reminded me of Jane Austen's traditional English novels, but it also shows glimpses of Woolf's other work. The way she writes is totally unique and refreshing and makes it easy for readers to understand and relate to situations, thus creating an intriguing and addictive story. It also is quite funny at times and contains great social commentary. I would recommend it to everyone who likes brilliantly written and interesting love stories.

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