1929 - 1932
The long-awaited fifth volume of the first complete edition of Virginia Woolf's essays.
Fiction was the core of Virginia Woolf's work. But she took her essay writing very seriously, spending a great deal of time on each essay and finding they provided a refreshing diversion from fiction. 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 wholly delightful. 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...so 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?' 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 McNeillie, Stuart N. Clarke brings fresh light to Woolf's essays and enriches them with variations. This penultimate volume forms part of an indispensable, unique collection from one of our greatest writers.
“It is all pure Woolf, so distinctive is her voice - ironic, cool, conversational and playful, shrewd and fantastical by turns”
Alison Light, Literary Review