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Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris
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Virginia Woolf

by Alexandra Harris

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It is safe to say that I am hooked. This short and focused biography has gotten me so excited to keep delving into Woolf's works and life. The tight writing of this biography means that you don't get in depth about every friendship or movement that Woolf is associated with, but Harris does a great job of introducing the reader to the Woolf's growth as a writer and her processes of writing. I'm fascinated by how different the form is of all of her books and I want to struggle through them all eventually. I'm sure it will be a long process and not always easy or fun, but I'm looking forward to the challenge! ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Oct 14, 2013 |
Short, sharp introduction to Woolf's life and work, with lots of photos. Despite this, Ms Harris writes with a sophisticated enough style to suit both academics and general readers. She also does what the more expansive 90s biog by Hermione Lee can't - updates the legacy of Woolf to suggest that the Hollywood film The Hours unfairly simplifies Woolf as mentally ill, self-absorbed and intense. All of which was true from time to time, but is rather unfair to her other, less filmic characteristics: she was also witty, hard working, innovative, sociable and progressive. Harris also manages to squeeze in a thesis of her own: that Woolf ultimately eludes any attempt to pin her down one way or another, and that this quality is the key to her continuing popularity today. ( )
  Dickon.Edwards | Jun 30, 2013 |
The author has certainly achieved her goal. This biography contains enough information to get an idea of who Virginia Woolf was, what she stood for, and if she stood for anything. It is very clearly an introduction to her life and work, and by no means a complete biography - which it doesn't claim to be. The writing is very fluent - I finished it in one day. Even though I've been 'obsessed' with Virginia Woolf for a few years now, there are still some pictures I haven't seen yet. I hope Alexandra Harris continues to write about Virginia Woolf. ( )
  AlexanderDS | Sep 2, 2012 |
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For all my students in Liverpool.
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There were already a great many people at 22 Hyde Park Gate in Kensington when Virginia Stephen was born in the big marital bedroom on the first floor.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In 1907, when she was twenty-five and not yet a published novelist, Virginia Stephen had everything still to prove. She felt herself to be at a crossroads: 'I shall be miserable, or happy; a wordy sentimental creature, or a writer of such English as shall one day burn the pages.'
Today her prose is still blazing; perhaps it burns brighter than ever. For this is the story of how a determined young woman with a notebook became one of the the greatest writers of all time. It is a story that sparkles with wit and friendship, language and love, wicked jokes and passionate appreciation of ordinary things. Hers was a life lived with intensity from moment to moment and shaped into the lasting patterns of art. It was also a courageous life, defiant of convention and marred by mental illness.
Alexandra Harris uses vivid flashes of detail to evoke Woolf's changing backgrounds and preoccupations. We move from the close-packed rhythms of a Victorian childhood to the experiments of 'Bloomsbury'. We see her 'drawn on and on' to tackle ever more challenging forms of writing.
This gripping new account offers an ideal introduction to both the life and work of Virginia Woolf. It considers each of Woolf's novels in context, traces the contentious course of her 'afterlife', and shows why, seventy years after her death, Virginia Woolf continues to haunt and inspire us.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0500515921, Hardcover)

An ideal introduction to the life and work of Virginia Woolf by an award-winning author: the story of a life lived with intensity from moment to moment and shaped into the lasting patterns of art.

In 1907, when she was twenty-five and not yet a published novelist, Virginia Stephen had everything still to prove. She felt herself to be at a crossroads: “I shall be miserable, or happy; a wordy sentimental creature, or a writer of such English as shall one day burn the pages.”

Today her prose is still blazing; perhaps it burns brighter than ever. This is the story of how a determined young woman with a notebook became one of the greatest writers of all time. It is a story that sparkles with wit and friendship, language and love, wicked jokes and passionate appreciation of ordinary things.

In this illuminating new account, Alexandra Harris uses vivid flashes of detail to evoke Woolf’s changing backgrounds and preoccupations. We move from the close-packed rhythms of a Victorian childhood to the experiments of Bloomsbury and Woolf’s trial-and-error answers to the pressing question of how to live. We see her tackling challenging forms of writing, trying out different voices, following flights of fancy, and returning to earth. Above all, we see her making conscious decisions about what to do next.

The book considers each of the novels in context, gives due prominence to a range of Woolf’s dazzlingly inventive essays, traces the contentious course of her “afterlife,” and shows why, seventy years after her death, Virginia Woolf continues to haunt and inspire us. 50 black-and-white illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An ideal introduction to the life and work of Virginia Woolf by an award-winning author: the story of a life lived with intensity from moment to moment and shaped into the lasting patterns of art. In 1907, when she was twenty-five and not yet a published novelist, Virginia Stephen had everything still to prove. She felt herself to be at a crossroads: "I shall be miserable, or happy; a wordy sentimental creature, or a writer of such English as shall one day burn the pages." Today her prose is still blazing; perhaps it burns brighter than ever. This is the story of how a determined young woman with a notebook became one of the greatest writers of all time.… (more)

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