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The common reader Tekijä: Virginia Woolf

The common reader (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1925; vuoden 1953 painos)

Tekijä: Virginia Woolf

Sarjat: The Common Reader (1)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1,078819,318 (4.05)53
Woolf's first and most popular volume of essays. This collection has more than twenty-five selections, including such important statements as "Modern Fiction" and "The Modern Essay." Edited and with an Introduction by Andrew McNeillie; Index.
Teoksen nimi:The common reader
Kirjailijat:Virginia Woolf
Info:New York, Harcourt, Brace and company [c1925]
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto, Parhaillaan lukemassa
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The Common Reader: First Series (tekijä: Virginia Woolf) (1925)


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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 8) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
The writing is obviously of a high quality, but I just don’t understand most of the works she is reference here. Nice to read the championing of early women writers at a time when that must have been unfashionable. ( )
  hdeanfreemanjr | Jan 29, 2024 |
This anthology of essays by Virginia Woolf on English literature is arranged chronologically by writer from the high medieval (the Paston documents and Chaucer) to the then current era (post WWI). Many of these have gained classic status, and no wonder. The Paston essay places the documents within their historical context to an extent that you can relate to the persons described as living, breathing, human beings. If there has ever been a better piece on Jane Austen's genius I've never read it. Her portraits of the more obscure writers whose fame either died with them, or at best has flickered on, is of interest to readers of Woolf even if it is not for the subjects themselves. She skewers Wells, Galsworthy and Bennett as writers whose work has outlived their time and purpose (and admirer though I am of these three she does have a point). Her essay on the Brontes is of historical issue inasmuch as it shows the degree to which Anne's work has been rehabilitated since this essay was written (she is not even mentioned here). In her famous essay on George Eliot Woolf dances round Eliot without really getting to grips with her subject. Woolf clearly prefers the loam operas to Romola and Daniel Deronda; Middlemarch she damns with faint praise. I would have liked Woolf's opinion on why water is such a symbol of death throughout Eliot's novels, with the high number of drownings and near-drownings that occur - but hey-ho I'm not a professional literary critic. The last essay featured here, 'How It Strkes A Contemporary', is a passionate defence of modern (and Modernist) literature.

This collection demonstrates that Virginia Woolf was one of the most perceptive writers on English literature of the first half of the 20th century. ( )
  merlin1234 | Jul 9, 2021 |
"There is a sentence in Dr. Johnson’s Life of Gray which might well be written up in all those rooms, too humble to be called libraries, yet full of books, where the pursuit of reading is carried on by private people. ' . . . I rejoice to concur with the common reader; for by the common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours.' It defines their qualities; it dignifies their aims; it bestows upon a pursuit which devours a great deal of time, and is yet apt to leave behind it nothing very substantial, the sanction of the great man’s approval." (from The Common Reader, p. 1)

This is a crisp, insightful, sometimes hilarious, and always very Woolfy collection of essays on literature, writing, and the act of reading by people who just love to read. It really doesn't matter if Virginia Woolf is writing about some 19th century English essayist you've never heard of or a writer you love (I love) like Jane Austen or Emily Bronte, the delight of this collection is the way Woolf writes and how she reacts to a huge swath of English-language literature.

And if you don't believe that Virginia Woolf can be hilarious, please help yourself to part one of her four part essay "Outlines," entitled Miss Mitford, and let me prove you wrong: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91c/chapter17.html ( )
  kristykay22 | Sep 9, 2019 |
The two series of The common reader (published in 1925 and 1932) are the collections of Woolf's essays on books and writers published during her lifetime (further collections were compiled by her husband after her death). As the title implies, they concentrate on the pleasures to be found in books rather than the academic analysis of literary values. Woolf is happy to be eclectic, and whilst she visits most of the familiar lampposts of Eng Lit on her quasi-random walk, she doesn't mind going into rhapsodies about an obscure volume of 18th century memoirs that no-one has had out of the library in a century, or having fun exhuming the life of an almost forgotten country parson or an overlooked woman writer.

She is addressing English readers in English papers, of course, but still I was a bit surprised at how narrow her geographical range is here. "Literature", for the purposes of these books, seems to begin with Chaucer and the Paston Letters and end with Ulysses (still a work-in-progress when she was writing about it). Writers are, almost without exception, English - and when they are not, they are foreigners with some special claim to be recognised as English by adoption, like Swift and Joyce, Scott and RLS, or Conrad and James. There are passing references to the fact that a few Frenchmen may have written books, but this is not investigated further: it looks as though the only non-English books worth discussing are those of The Greeks and The Russians. And in both cases Woolf tells us that however much we may enjoy them, our cultural distance from them means that we will only ever appreciate them rather dimly. The famous essay "On not knowing Greek" isn't about linguistic difficulties. She assumes that we will have learnt Greek at least to the extent that we can read Homer and the Athenian dramatists, as she has. But she very sensibly warns us about the difficulty of making any assumptions about a culture where life is lived so differently from early-20th-century London, and a literature of which we read a handful of masterpieces without much knowledge of what came before or after, or indeed of contemporary works that were not preserved as masterpieces. Chaucer's England is a long way away too, but there we have so much more accessible context to help us to make sense of it. And Russia is even more of a problem, when seen from the vantage point of Bloomsbury: "Of all those who feasted upon Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, and Tchekov during the past twenty years, not more than one or two perhaps have been able to read them in Russian"(!)

Something else that came home to me about halfway through my reading is how hard it is to keep a sense of the flow of time when reading this sort of writing. Woolf talks about "The Victorians" in much the same way that we do, as representatives of a distant era, but actually she was born in Victoria's reign herself. When she talks about Tennyson, Thackeray and Trollope, they are people that her parents and grandparents knew (her father was previously married to one of Thackeray's daughters) - they're nearer to her (in time) than she would be from me. A sobering thought...

What most of us will dip into The common reader for are the wonderful essays on her real heroes, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Christina Rosetti, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Brontës, where Woolf expertly points us to the things we really need to know about those writers and the conditions they worked under, without obscuring in any way her own enormous (but never uncritical) enthusiasm for them. But we shouldn't neglect the backwaters. Woolf has great fun with all her subjects, and she can make Laetitia Pilkington or Geraldine Jewsbury (or Beau Brummell or Archbishop Thomson, for that matter) as interesting and extraordinary as Wollstonecraft, and make us feel - at least for the duration of the essay - that we really ought to go off and read more about those people. And occasionally, she can be delightfully brutal with some unfortunate modern writer, like the poor Miss Hill who wrote a ladylike little book about Mary Russell Mitford and her Surroundings, presumably unaware that Woolf knew all about Miss Mitford because of her research for Flush. But even faced with an undeniably bad book, Woolf admits that the simple pleasure of reading and being made to think about what the author should have said wins out "Yet, as one is setting out to speak the truth, one must own that there are certain books which can be read without the mind and without the heart, but still with considerable enjoyment."

The common reader is decidedly not a book to read without the mind and without the heart - both of those organs will be stimulated more than adequately as you read it - but the considerable enjoyment is still there all the same! ( )
2 ääni thorold | Dec 13, 2017 |
(2 September 2016)

I bought these two volumes especially for Woolfalong, although I did also need them for my Iris Murdoch research, mining them first to pull out information on what exactly Woolf said about the common reader and about critics. I was a bit disappointed to find that my lovely new paperbacks were reprints, and rather smudgy ones at that, of an earlier edition, as I do like the clear type you get in modern books. But I managed.

I loved re (surely re) reading this famous book of essays, so readable, even though they demonstrate formidable scholarship and strong opinions, and thus could feel a little intimidating. I went start to finish as my “downstairs” (dinner table and sofa reading) book, often sitting a little longer for “just one more”.

Yes, it does help if you know who the people are she’s writing about, and I did enjoy least the pieces where she speaks of very minor figures, but I so enjoyed the famous ones on “Modern Fiction” and “How it Strikes a Contemporary) and loved her pieces on Austen, the Brontes and particularly George Eliot, having forgotten these from my original reading, back in the day.

I don’t agree with Woolf on Bennett et al (although as Ali has mentioned in her review of the Writer’s Diary, she was sad at his death) even though she does concur that he’s a good workman, but the modernists had to have people to rail against, didn’t they, and she does back up her arguments! Her comments about the tyrannical conventions that make the modern novelist feel they have to provide plot, comedy, tragedy, love interest and an air of probability make you see why she and others like her felt their way of working to be important. A good read, and another one I’ve been glad to pick up for #Woolfalong. ( )
  LyzzyBee | Oct 28, 2016 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 8) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (4 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Virginia Woolfensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Bell, VanessaKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Demeter, LizKannen suunnittelijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
McNeillie, AndrewToimittajamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Teoksen kanoninen nimi
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
Alkuteoksen nimi
Teoksen muut nimet
Alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi
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Tärkeät paikat
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Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
To Lytton Strachey
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

Woolf's first and most popular volume of essays. This collection has more than twenty-five selections, including such important statements as "Modern Fiction" and "The Modern Essay." Edited and with an Introduction by Andrew McNeillie; Index.

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