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Virginia Woolf's first collection of essays, published in 1925 in which she attempts to see literature from the point of view of the 'common reader'.

This is Virginia Woolf's first collection of essays, published in 1925. In them, she attempts to see literature from the point of view of the 'common reader' - someone whom she, with Dr Johnson, distinguished from the critic and the scholar. She read, and wrote, as an outsider: a woman set to school in her father's library, denied the educational privileges of her male siblings - and with no fixed view of what constitutes 'English Literature'.

What she produced is an eccentric and unofficial literary and social history from the fourteenth to the twentieth century, with an excursion to ancient Greece thrown in. She investigates medieval England, tsarist Russia, Elizabethan playwrights, Victorian novelists and modern essayists. When she published this book Woolf's fame as a novelist was already established: now she was hailed as a brilliant interpretative critic. Here, she addresses her 'common reader' in the remarkable prose and with all the imagination and gaiety that are the stamp of her genius.

Reviews

Virginia Woolf was a great writer. Her voice is distinctive; her style is her own; her work is an active influence on other writers and a subtle influence on what we have come to expect from modern literature

Jeanette Winterson

Her essays are delightful in the way that serious play is delightful. She is enjoying herself, and reading her gives me that leaping sense of being in excellent company

Jeanette Winterson, The Times

Virginia Woolf was one of the great innovators of that decade of literary Modernism, the 1920s. Novels such as Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse showed how experimental writing could reshape our sense of ordinary life. Taking unremarkable materials - preparations for a genteel party, a day on a bourgeois family holiday - they trace the flow of associations and ideas that we call "consciousness"

Guardian

More like novels than ordinary criticism

New Statesman

Virginia Woolf stands as the chief figure of modernism in England and must be included with Joyce and Proust in the realisation of experimental achievements that have completely broken with tradition

New York Times

Woolf was easily the greatest literary journalist of her age

James Wood,, Guardian

It is all pure Woolf, so distinctive is her voice - ironic, cool, conversational and playful, shrewd and fantastical by turns

Literary Review

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Formats & editions

  • EBook

    9781448182145

    February 26, 2015

    Vintage Digital

    288 pages

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  • Paperback

    9780099443667

    February 15, 2003

    Vintage Classics

    288 pages

    RRP $14.99

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