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Thread: Virginia Woolf - great writer or intellectual show-off?

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Virginia Woolf - great writer or intellectual show-off?

    I was watching an American literature professor on YouTube giving a lecture about Charles Dickens. He said Dickens was regarded as Britain's 2nd greatest author after Shakespeare, or maybe Austen was 2nd, but it was pretty close. That made me wonder who our 4th and 5th would be. I thought maybe George Orwell was the most significant author from the C20th, but I could not think who else would be up there. Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh did not seem in the same class. I posted this on a British literature website (at least it ended in .co.uk). Someone posted he would place Virginia Woolf in the top 5. Virginia Woolf! I have only read Mrs Dalloway and the only thing I can say in its favour is that it is short. I would as rather read one of my computer programming books for entertainment value. If you want to know why there are not many stream-of-consciousness novels then read Mrs Dalloway. If you want to read a better stream-of-consciousness book, read Trainspotting. However, it appears I am being ignorant, because someone polled 82 international book critics outside the UK for their choices, and Virginia Woolf had three books in the top 25, including To The Lighthouse at number 2 and Mrs Dalloway at number 3.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/culture/story/2...british-novels
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
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    I had fun with Dalloway plus Orlando is a masterpiece. You can obviusly be an intellectual show off and a great writer.
    #foratemer

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Victorian novels are predominant in this list. But I donīt think I would give the first place to Middlemarch.
    As for Virginia Woolf, she is probably one of the most original English authors and the most original female author, but not every one relishes her kind of fiction.
    Intelectual show off doesnīt describe her in my opinion. She was a genuine intelectual. She belonged to a highly intelectual family and also to the Bloomsbury circle.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 07-01-2017 at 11:17 PM.
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    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Maybe Mrs Dalloway isn't the book for you. I have a mixed relationship with Dalloway, I want to like it more than I do but I don't enjoy it that much. Yet it is quite an extraordinary book. I didn't realise it straightaway, but it is one of those books which benefits from a good think about afterward. The juxtaposition of Dalloway and Septimus is quite original, particularly when you understand that PTSD and hysteria have only recently been connected as effectively the same phenomena.

    To the Lighthouse is, in my view, a much better read and perhaps Woolf's best book. The Waves is her most innovative. Jacob's Room is a nice blend between the two, quite accessible yet beautifully written. Woolf's ability at 'scene-making' is second to none. There are descriptions in both Lighthouse and Jacob's Room which have etched into my memory in a way few other passages do. The old woman singing on the steps of St. Paul's. Mrs Ramsey knitting in the darkening room.
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out https://biisbooks.wordpress.com/

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    How about Night and Day? Has anyone read this one?

    I personally liked Mrs Dalloway. I read it like it was some kind of a longer poem about doubt, nostalgia, but mainly about how one can regard life: fighting/refusing it (Septimus's choice) or embracing/loving it (Clarissa's choice). This is not an easy content for a novel, so I would say Woolf is a great + intellectual writer, not a show-off.

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