A partial list-- both incomplete and preferential
(Arranged in chronological order, most recent first)
Goldman, Jane. The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf. Cambridge
After looking at all the available introductions to Woolf’s life and work, I
decided that Jane’s was the best and so ordered it for the seminar. Her
elegant and concise summaries of the issues of each novel incorporate her
established interests in modernism and Woolf’s engagement with the visual
arts, and her critical references are impeccable.
deGay, Jane. Virginia Woolf’s Novels and the Literary Past. Edinburg UP,
I am reading this book because I am interested in Woolf’s relationship to her
literary past, especially the Victorians. DeGay’s book focuses on Woolf’s
reading process, how she engages with texts and transforms them to fit her
own historical contexts, and in the mechanisms of influence.
Re-reading Julia Briggs’ study of Woolf’s creative processes is a real labor of
love. Briggs’ book is that rare synthesis which sees both the forest and the
trees: it presents both the kind of general, structural pattern-recognition that
only comes from having read and thought about and connected everything in
Woolf with wonderful nuggets of carefully researched information about
.Dick, Susan. Virginia Woolf. Routledge, 1989.
Dick’s slim little volume was something I had picked up at a used bookstore
somewhere. I knew she had done the definitive edition of Woolf’s short fiction
and had read the chapter on how the short stories of Monday or Tuesday
related to Jacob’s Room. Interested in how the importance and function of
storytelling is revealed through individual characters, Dick analyses how the
short fiction often tests out narrative strategies subsequently used in the
novels. Her explanation of how the rhythms of consciousness shape Woolf’s
narratives is especially helpful.
Zwerdling, Alex. Virginia Woolf and the Real World. Berkeley: U of CA P,
Zwerdling’s book was the first to thoroughly document the social and
historical contexts of Woolf’s work and remains a vital and often-quoted
source today. I had read bits and pieces of it, and so liked the idea of actually
reading it all the way through as a coherent argument. Once I started to get
into it, I particularly admired the way in which he managed to get beyond the
simple dichotomies characteristic of early Woolf criticism and see the
inextricable complexity with which Woolf’s inner and outer world interact with
each other, how she challenges “the familiar distinction between objective
and subjective observation” (23) .
Moore, Madeline. The Short Season Between Two Silences: The Mystical
and the Political in the Novels of Virginia Woolf. Boston: Allen & Unwin,
This is one of the first books I read on Woolf, way back in 1993, when I was
writing my initial paper on Woolf and Georgia O’Keeffe. It had been useful to
me then, and several people at this year’s Woolf conference quoted
passages from it that I found intriguing, so I decided to revisit it. The central
question of her work – how did VW “reconcile her materialist beliefs with her
spiritual longings?”— combines aspects of both archetypal and
social/historical criticism with a somewhat psychological emphasis on
mystical elements in Woolf’s world view.
Lee, Hermione. The Novels of Virginia Woolf. New York: Holmes and
I picked Hermione Lee’s book because I respected the hard-nosed acumen
of her magisterial biography of Woolf and was curious as to what she thought
of the works, apart from the life. Being published before the great waves of
Woolf scholarship, the book is sometimes amusingly dismissive of aspects
of Woolf’s work that have since been treated with great seriousness. But I do
admire her critique of the overly facile dichotmomizing of early Woolf criticism.
Like Fleishman, she has a rather formalist approach, focusing on how Woolf
changes the structure of each novel to “match her vision of reality with its
appropriate form” (14).
Fleishman, Avorm. Virginia Woolf: A Critical Reading. Baltimore: Johns
I just happened to have a copy of Fleishman that I had picked up
somewhere. I remembered the really excellent essay he wrote on the
structure of Woolf’s short stories, and then doing a search on Woolf and
flowers on Amazon, I picked up a reference to a passage on flower
symbolism that intrigued me. Although Fleishman’s book is way old (in 1975,
Quentin Bell’s biography had just been published and AF only had access to
Woolf’s diaries and letters through Bell and the compilation of excerpts , A
Writer’s Diary, that Leonard Woolf had published in 1953), I still find it useful,
perhaps because I share some of his critical antecedents, such as Northrop
Frye. Although the book is mostly a study of imagery, Fleishman has a good
eye for structure and presents helpful analytical outlines of nearly every book.
|Some Books on
|Virginia in Vogue
Color Reduction Woodcut
(color digitally altered)
Elisa Kay Sparks