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For all their unevenness, these essays gain significance from Woolf’s disquiet as she responded to the increasing cultural and political pressures of the late 1930s.While there was still room for workaday literary journalism, represented here in her discussions of the art of biography, for example, or whether book reviewing should be abolished (just for the record, she thought it probably should), the belletrist of the era was slipping away and a much more conflicted writer emerging in the midst of a volatile social landscape.Theorising on what makes a good essay doesn’t always translate, unfortunately, into the practice of writing one.
More troubled still are her late writings on politics, conceived as Britain began its march towards war.
This volume reprints for the first time in the face of rising panic; tries too hard to argue her case (sometimes ignoring logic in the process); writes too much; fails on clarity and relevance; but wins eventually, and brilliantly, on the sheer anguish of her prose.
This informal collective of artists and writers exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture.
In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a writer and social reformer.
The exception is her writing on the visual arts: in this volume her re-evaluation of her friend Roger Fry and the “racket and din” of post-impressionism shows her at her best, but her worst is here too in the occasional whiff of the school debating society ( .).
This is the sixth and final annotated volume of Woolf’s complete essays, edited (as was volume 5) by Stuart Clarke. “The old problem, how to keep the flight of the mind, yet be exact,” she mused in 1940.
After the war, Woolf enthused, hedges would vanish, class hierarchies disappear and everyone stand together on a “common ground” of literature.
The rhetoric may sound passionate, but as an essay does it convince?
By the time she composed , first published in the US in October 1940, she was driven by real fear of the future, her anxiety surfacing in the violent imagery of this angry, convoluted attack on the twin evils of oppression and militarism.
“Let us try to drag up into consciousness the subconscious Hitlerism that holds us down,” she writes.