I’ve just read two books for two challenges, but I know people are possibly interested in one or the other, so I’ve split the reviews over two days. I’m quite glad that the Woolf I’ve been reading has been non-fiction, as too much stream of consciousness might have been … too much stream of consciousness, really. I also have some book confessions at the end of this one – physical AND virtual!
Virginia Woolf – “The Common Reader” Vol 1
(2 September 2016)
I bought these two volumes especially for Woolfalong, although I did also need them for my Iris Murdoch research, mining them first to pull out information on what exactly Woolf said about the common reader and about critics. I was a bit disappointed to find that my lovely new paperbacks were reprints, and rather smudgy ones at that, of an earlier edition, as I do like the clear type you get in modern books. But I managed.
I loved re (surely re) reading this famous book of essays, so readable, even though they demonstrate formidable scholarship and strong opinions, and thus could feel a little intimidating. I went start to finish as my “downstairs” (dinner table and sofa reading) book, often sitting a little longer for “just one more”.
Yes, it does help if you know who the people are she’s writing about, and I did enjoy least the pieces where she speaks of very minor figures, but I so enjoyed the famous ones on “Modern Fiction” and “How it Strikes a Contemporary) and loved her pieces on Austen, the Brontes and particularly George Eliot, having forgotten these from my original reading, back in the day.
I don’t agree with Woolf on Bennett et al (although as Ali has mentioned in her review of the Writer’s Diary, she was sad at his death) even though she does concur that he’s a good workman, but the modernists had to have people to rail against, didn’t they, and she does back up her arguments! Her comments about the tyrannical conventions that make the modern novelist feel they have to provide plot, comedy, tragedy, love interest and an air of probability make you see why she and others like her felt their way of working to be important. A good read, and another one I’ve been glad to pick up for #Woolfalong.
Continuing the Woolf theme, Simon from Stuckinabook very kindly sent me this lovely book which he’d duplicated in his own library – I’d been talking about it ages ago and had totally forgotten so what a lovely surprise (I’m a right one for sending books to people ages after I’ve promised to, so it’s nice to know that that is a lovely thing to happen!).
I’ve also been a bit over-active on NetGalley. I received an invitation to read Grayson Perry’s new book, “The Descent of Man” and happened to click at just the right time, so I have that. Then I (fatally) had a look around and requested two more, both of which I got. Now, several of the books I’ve had via this method have been pre-approved by publishers or very near publication. The two I requested – and won – both came with emails asking me not to publish my review until at least 30 days before the day of publication, in one case, and the actual day of publication for the other one (also saying I mustn’t release any information about it before then!!) so I’ve thoroughly scared myself there, and I’m NOT GOING TO MENTION THEM, will read and review soon then schedule my reviews for NEXT YEAR and then hope I don’t accidentally publish a clash. This is common, right?
How are you doing with Richardson or #Woolfalong or just your autumn reading?