This small book, being a Vintage mini, is full of some of Virginia Woolf’s writing from her essays and at least one novel. It represents some of her most accessible writing and is definitely a good place to start if you have always wondered about Woolf. Like the other books in this series, it is likely to increase your urge to go and get books from the shelf to read more, or maybe an entire novel.
The book begins with a lengthy extract from perhaps her best known essay, “A Room of One’s Own” which asks the question of what would have happened if Shakespeare’s sister had been similarly talented but debarred from his opportunities by reason of her gender. Woolf then expands this to an examination of women and how they are treated as “intellectually inferior to the worst man” by University authorities. Similarly, women of enormous literary ability such as Margaret Cavendish are shown as poorly treated right up until Woolf’s own time. It includes the highlighted quote “There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind”.
The extract from “The Waves” brought back memories of studying it in the past, but the short section from it does not confuse as much as the whole novel. If no other recommendation exists for this small book, there is my favourite essay or short piece of writing from “Street Haunting” which is a reminiscence of walking through London as a winter twilight falls, with all the people, lights and characters that stick in the mind. It is Woolf at her most lyrical despite being observations from life in a city.
This little book, reasonably priced, is one of a series that seeks to encapsulate a theme, in this case Liberty, but also succeeds in collecting the thoughts of an author whose output in terms of novels, diaries and writing is enormous and therefore can be a little off putting without this handily sized introduction.
I did wonder whether to do this Vintage Mini on its own or combine it with another one (the only other one I have read….), but I thought that it may take too long…Also I am going to a bookshop in a certain University city at some point over the next few weeks, so I may come back with some books.