Tag Archives: virginia woolf

Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris

VWTitle: Virginia Woolf
Author: Alexandra Harris
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 978-0500290866
Genre: Biography, Literary Biography
Pages: 192
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

I remember being all of 13 and attempting to read Mrs. Dalloway. It didn’t make any sense to me back then. Nothing whatsoever. In fact, I also remember dumping it and not picking up any Woolf till I turned 21. That’s when life truly made sense. Virginia Woolf’s writing has captivated me like no other author, not even Murakami for that matter.

Having said that, I wish I had read this book before reading her works, as it provides so much insight and fodder into who she was as a person and how that impacted her writing. Not only that, it goes a step ahead speaking very closely about her family, husband, and influences when it came to The Bloomsbury Group.

This edition by Alexandra Harris might be a brief one when it comes to Woolf’s life, but might I say that she has captured every phase and essence of the writer’s life and works to perfection. I say this because I have read Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee and that is quite an extensive work. Harris does not gloss over anything and provides a view that is completely unbiased and yet thankfully you can see the admiration for Woolf shine in this short biography.

Harris also takes into account Woolf’s relationship with her contemporaries and how she worked on building the Bloomsbury group. Those chapters swept me away, not to also forget how she came to write the novels that she did and her mental health always there -sometimes in the background and sometimes right there at the front.

“Virginia Woolf” by Alexandra Harris captivated me more than any tome on her could have. The writing is crisp and engaging and works well with the accompaniment of 46 photos of Woolf, only adding to the entire narrative. A read for all Woolf lovers and also for those who are afraid of her writing, just so you are encouraged to pick any of her books and read her, thus converting for life.

 

The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein

The World Broke In Two Title: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature
Author: Bill Goldstein
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN: 978-0805094022
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, Literary Non-Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

To want to read a book since a while and then to actually read it and not be disappointed by it is kicking Murphy’s behind. I had to say this because I was apprehensive about whether or not I would enjoy reading “The World Broke in Two”. I love books centered around literary events and what happened in the past between authors and what were the circumstances like. You get the drift. This book is about the year 1922 and four authors that changed the course of English Literature – Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Stearns Eliot, and Edward Morgan Foster. Each battling with their personal demons and on the side trying to make sense of their professional lives and where they fit in in the scheme of things.

“The World Broke in Two” is a fascinating read and I don’t mean it in the loose sense of the word. I really do mean it. If you have interest in history, books, the creative process, and more so the changes that took place after WWI, then this is the book for you. I don’t mean to broaden the scope of this book, but it can be classified over genres and that is also the beauty of this title.

What I loved the most about this book is how Goldstein brings to fore the various writing processes of these four authors. He describes the process in detail, not to forget the anguish of these writers, the self-loathing at most times and how they also learned from each other. For instance, how E.M. Forster learned from Woolf when she gave him a copy of Jacob’s room. The book is layered with anecdotes and what is wondrous is that it is almost like a Russian doll when it comes to discovering more books to read for a novice reader. Goldstein very tactfully blends the historical with the literary – neither of which feel too much of at any given point in the book. The book if anything, reads like a novel.

Goldstein does not shy away from speaking of the authors’ mental and physical challenges and how they sometimes became an impediment and at others a catalyst to surge ahead. “The World Broke in Two” is a stunning read about four authors, the worlds inhabited by them and at the core of it, their writing which is paramount to this book.

387 Stories: Day 7: Story 7: Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf

Title: Monday or Tuesday
Author: Virginia Woolf
Taken from the collection: Monday or Tuesday

She confuses you with the very title of the story and the confusion lasts throughout the story. The reader is lost. The reader does not know what is going on and yet the reader has the urge to finish the story. Why? Because of the power of language. “Monday or Tuesday” by Woolf according to me is more of a prose poem. It is a series of unrelated events, that just occur. Now the reader is aware that all of this is happening in a span of a day, that much is clear, which is probably the most comforting part of the story.

Monday or Tuesday by Virgnia Woolf

There are different pieces described in this story and it amazes me as to how Virginia Woolf would have at some point thought of something like this – and also almost maintains a balance between the disjointed elements. A heron taking flight. Description of a Lake. The ongoings of society. She makes you see everything and yet something is hidden. The heron’s perspective it seems doesn’t change and yet blends it beautifully, giving the most logical ending.

Some might have to even reread the story and yet think of making sense of it. I looked at it by not wanting to make sense of it. The elements that were not connected, seemed to fit most beautifully. The stream of consciousness that seeps through is something to be worth experiencing. Read it. I beg of you to read it.

You can read it here: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/woolf/monday/monday.html#03

Mad Mad Love

I do not know when or why I fell in love with books, however I did and now there is no turning back. It is like time. I can never look back and what has passed has come to passed and there is nothing I can do to undo it. I look at the number of books I own (close to 4000) and I am appalled. I really am. As to how less these books are. As to how I can add to my collection. As to how the house needs more shelves and the lack of space thereof. Books are strewn all over the place. In the living room. In the bedroom. In my mother’s room. In the kitchen also I think. Under the bed. On the shelves of course. Just about everywhere.

The love for books is something which cannot be explained and yet I attempt to. The thought of picking up a new book. The idea of smelling it. The pure magical experience of imagining a book and its characters and the setting as you read it. What other hobby or what other passion could take you to a different land without getting up from your arm-chair?

Books have also played a critical role in my life. There have been times I have not met men for a date since they were not readers. I wanted my very own Roark and if I was in a wild mood, then I needed a Heathcliff. Sometimes I wanted to become Catherine and others I was satisfied in being Oliver Twist, just to know what it would be like to be an orphan. I wanted to be loved like Miu from Sputnik Sweeheart (happens to be my favourite book). I wanted to experience an adventure like the one in Treasure Island. I want Edward McCullen to hold me in his arms and sing me a lullaby. Enough of the ranting already. My point is this: Why aren’t there more readers in my country?

Well that has also changed, thanks to the likes of Dan Brown and Chetan Bhagat (shudder shiver!). I wonder how people read them. Yes I admit. I am a literary snob (though I have had my share of Shobha De and Jackie Collins as well). I remember the time I was introduced to reading. I was 5 and was gifted an Enid Blyton by my mother. I have not stopped reading since then. My neices and nephews are 6 and 5 years old and they do not know of Enid Blyton. They never will. I hope they do. I tried to introduce them to her magical world but in vain. They did not try reading what I had gifted. I was sad and then somewhere down the line I let them be.

I am so glad that my man reads. He reads a lot and may be would like to read even more. Just that he does not get the time. My mother reads and so does my sister. I think we are a very different species. The species who reads. I know of so many of my friends who read and I love them for it. I love you my books. This is one love that will never end.

As Virginia Woolf says,  

The true reason remains the inscrutable one – we get pleasure from reading. It is a complex pleasure and a difficult pleasure; it varies from age to age and from book to book. But that pleasure is enough. Indeed that pleasure is so great that one cannot doubt that without it the world would be a far different and a far inferior place from what it is. Reading has changed the world and continues to change it. When the day of judgment comes therefore and all secrets are laid bare, we shall not be surprised to learn that the reason why we have grown from apes to men, and left our caves and dropped our bows and arrows and sat round the fire and talked and given to the poor and helped the sick – the reason why we have made shelter and society out of the wastes of the desert and the tangle of the jungle is simply this – we have loved reading.