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

  1. #16
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    Maybe if you read it as novel which is a very subjective account of how a certain middle class went though pre - and post II World War times it will become more interesting. It is also a good example of internal monologue. Or try Orlando, where there is more action, even if it is highly subjective too.

    The next Woolf book is The Waves at Number 16. Orlando is in the top 100 somewhere. The characters in Lighthouse seem like aliens to me. Society has changed a lot in the last 90 years. At one point Mrs Ramsey has the poem The Charge of the Light Brigade stuck in her head. I wonder if that poen is even taught in schools any more. I suppose Mrs Ramsey is a wife and mother to eight children, some grown up. She spends much time thinking about them. I don't have much family and don't spend much time thinking about them.
    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.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  2. #17
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    I'm in a Virginia Woolf phase. I've recently re-read To the Lighthouse, Between the Acts Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and Flush. I've got Jacob's Room on the stocks. I'm not sure I like her, but I'm intrigued.

    Last time I read Orlando I thought it deeply pretentious. This time I realised it was parodic.

    I like Between the Acts because I could finish it within 24 hours.

    I did To the Lighthouse for A level and did well, despite the fact that in those days nobody thought to mention the words modernism or feminism. I came up with my very own revisionist account of it: Mrs Ramsey's death is in a way a liberation for her husband of her overbearing influence. Having re-read it that is not fair, but it is certainly about coming to terms with loss.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  3. #18
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I saw a young woman on a train reading the book a couple of days ago. I dare say she'd have been turning the pages quicker if it had been Jilly Cooperr's Riders. I still can't see how number 2 in the top 100 British novels, according to the BBC culture list, can be so tedious. I think there must be something wrong with that list.
    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.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  4. #19
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I just read "Mrs. Dalloway". To be more precise, I listened to it while driving to the mountains. I liked it, but perhaps my enjoyment was enhanced because the reader was a refined-sounding Brit. When she said, "Mrs Dalloway's party" it sounded to me like "Mrs Dalloway's potty". I may have been spending too much time with one and three-year-olds, but I thought that was funny.

  5. #20
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I am still continuing with To the Lighthouse. I am enjoying it more than Mrs Dalloway. An advantage is that it has chapters, even if some are only five lines long. I enjoy it more if I just sort of let it was over me and I do not concentrate too much on it. I am not sure it would actually make much difference if I missed out a couple of chapters. I might not notice. I might still think I had read it all and just did not remember. Given that it was academics and critics who voted it number two in the top 100 British novels, I find that astonishing / a bit surprising / no, what I'd expect. People have made careers out of reading and teaching Virginia Woolf.
    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.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  6. #21
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Just read Jacob's Room her first experimental novel. I'd be glad to skip the experiment and get on to the later ones where she'd worked out her technique. We are told about the fleeting experiences of so many different characters, it doesn't seem so much like stream of consciousness as an omniscient narrator with a butterfly mind.

    The fragments of conversation reminded me oddly of Ronald Firbank, but with him there is an overarching sense of camp innuendo, so that opacity of what the conversations are about serves a purpose. Here I just was bemused.

    Virginia Woolf could do camp of course in Orlando and Flush, but not to the stratospheric heights of Firbank.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  7. #22
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "an omniscient narrator with a butterfly mind"

    Liked the idea of the butterfly mind. I didnt aktually read Jacobs Room, but what I remember about other of VWs books it is exactly "the fleeting experiences of so many different characters" that matters not the contents of the dialogues. It is often so butterfliyy that one almost forgets that these people are having to cope with serious matters like war losses and adaptation to post war England, for example.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  8. #23
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Hello Danik again !

    Yes, inTo Lighthousethe or Mrs Dalloway we get fleeting experiences, but they are for characters who recur in the course of the novel and there is at least half a page devoted to each at a time.

    In Jacob's Room there are a multiplicity of characters many of whose inner reflections only occupy a sentence or paragraph.

    I couldn't follow the fragments of overheard conversation. As I implied, with Firbank the in consequence of the conversations is itself a joke. I didn't get what was going on here.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  9. #24
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "I couldn't follow the fragments of overheard conversation."

    Hi, Jackson,
    Ill see if I find Jacobs Room in the net and take a look at this conversation.

    Only please have some patience, because Im having difficulties posting in the forum. It seems that they are fixing the page, so error messages abound.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  10. #25
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Which is the chapter you are refering to Jackson?
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  11. #26
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I read this essay again by Philip Hensher, in which he tears into Virginia Woolf. I noticed he said the works of George Meredith also make him want to vomit, with which I agree, having read The Egoist. Hensher also mentioned two other writers in that essay: Kingsley Amis, who did not think her characters behaved realistically, and Ivy Compton-Burnett, who Hensher thinks was a much better writer from the period. I have recently bought one of Ivy Compton-Burnett's books, so I will see. I also bought Kingsley Amis's The Old Devils. It should at least be entertaining and unpretentious.
    Last edited by kev67; 09-11-2019 at 05:58 PM.
    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.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  12. #27
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Kev,
    I normally wouldn't even read an article with that kind of title, because that shows a want of respect towards the author. I think a good critic should be objective in his evaluation of literature and not simply pour out his feelings.
    VW is a great writer, because she had a totally new way of writing which set the peculiar atmosphere of her time. And of course it was representative of her social group.
    Because it is an experimental form of narrative it is not easy to follow. The same happens with Joyce, Beckett, Kafka and Clarice Lispector.
    They all have their fans and their opponents. I admire VW, but she is not my favorite author. I think anyone has a right to like or dislike any author, whether he/she is famous or not. But articles like this one are a disservice to the readers,
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  13. #28
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    Which is the chapter you are refering to Jackson?
    Pretty well any.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  14. #29
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    I read this essay again by Philip Hensher, in which he tears into Virginia Woolf.
    He has a point about The Waves.

    Dame Ivy should keep any reader on her toes unless they give up in despair.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  15. #30
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Ok, Ill read the whole book and write something about it, but not immediately, because there is a reading group about Utopia starting at my other forum .
    By the way, why not try this form of reading here? It might revive the forum. I see many questions about books going unanswered. A reading group would avoid that.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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