Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Interviews and Recollections

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216 pages

“…a new and useful arrangement of perspectives on Virginia Woolf by her contemporaries. Especially interesting are a series of unfamiliar but illuminating accounts of Woolf by such remarkable women contemporaries as Beatrice Webb, Vita Sackville-West, Ethel Smyth, and Marguerite Yourcenar. The collection, which J. H. Stape has meticulously edited, is an excellent corrective to current one-dimensional views of Woolf. Here is seen in different moods—joyful, sensitive, fierce, ironic, fantastic, insecure, hilarious, ruthless—and in a variety of occupations: lecturer, critic, party-goer, publisher, wife, hostess, friend, and above all, writer.”—S. P. Rosenbaum

A coherent view of so extraordinarily chameleon a temperament and talent as Virginia Woolf's is, of course, almost impossible. If Lily Briscoe in To the Lighthouse needs “fifty pairs of eyes”to take in a woman as simple as Mrs. Ramsay, even more pairs seem desirable for focusing on Virginia Woolf. The difficulty of a balanced viewpoint for some of her memoirists, a demanding enough task at the best of times, was compounded by the enthusiasm with which she sometimes donned a mask and by conversation whose notorious brilliance veered at moments toward the flamboyant, the wildly inaccurate, or the cruel. To penetrate this mask, Virginia Woolf: Interviews and Recollections provides multifaceted perspectives on Woolf as observed and remembered by relatives, close friends, acquaintances, and fellow writers from Vanessa Bell, Arnold Bennett, and Edith Sitwell to Marguerite Yourcenar, Rose Macaulay, and Stephen Spender.

Gathered from widely scattered sources, the forty-one pieces collected here give an intimate and compelling portrait of a fascinating individual whom many consider one of the twentieth century's most significant writers. Covering her famous lectures at Cambridge, her role in the Hogarth Press, and her presence in the literary and social world of her day as well as her roles as sister, wife, and friend, this varied collection sheds light on the public and private personalities of Virginia Woolf the subtle poetic novelist, the devoted friend, and the influential and successful publisher.