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The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf

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Woolf continually used stories and sketches to experiment with narrative models and themes for her novels. This collection of nearly fifty pieces brings together the contents of two published volumes, A Haunted House and Mrs. Dalloway’s Party; a number of uncollected stories; and several previously unpublished pieces. Edited and with an Introduction by Susan Dick.


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Woolf continually used stories and sketches to experiment with narrative models and themes for her novels. This collection of nearly fifty pieces brings together the contents of two published volumes, A Haunted House and Mrs. Dalloway’s Party; a number of uncollected stories; and several previously unpublished pieces. Edited and with an Introduction by Susan Dick.

30 review for The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Virginia Woolf writes with an extreme level of precision; she is the absolute master of capturing the intensity of a single image. As such, I think she is a far more talented short story writer than a novelist. A perfect short story, one with a precise form, expressive language and a meaningful allegory, is closer to poetry than it is to a novel. The language needs to be weighed carefully because just one sentence (or perhaps even just one word) can change the entire meaning of the piece: it has Virginia Woolf writes with an extreme level of precision; she is the absolute master of capturing the intensity of a single image. As such, I think she is a far more talented short story writer than a novelist. A perfect short story, one with a precise form, expressive language and a meaningful allegory, is closer to poetry than it is to a novel. The language needs to be weighed carefully because just one sentence (or perhaps even just one word) can change the entire meaning of the piece: it has to be exact. Woolf’s stories are perfectly on point. I don’t think she writes plots very well (or, at least, I don’t seem to be able to engage with them.) She plays with words and images and in the short story form this is fantastic though when combined with a complex yet understated plot in a novel, it is very easy to become lost in the mirage of words she throws at her readers; her writing is heavily descriptive and sometimes this detracts from her longer pieces. Here though it is wonderful, simply because the plots are so irrelevant. Kew Gardens is perhaps one of the finest short stories I have ever read: the story is one image, a glimpse into the mundane nature of a city garden. It is full of life and colour and people. As I read Woolf’s words I could see the flowers in all their hues. I could smell the petals and I could hear the voices of the citizens. I was there. The effect was a remarkable feat of writing. "From the oval-shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with sports of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end." So consider me impressed. I will read the rest of her novels (eventually) and it will be interesting to see if my opinion remains the same.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gaurav

    It was my first exposure to Virginia Woolf's works and I enjoyed every line of the book. Virginia Woolf is one of those modern authors who reshaped the way fiction is written; she really redefines the boundaries of fiction as the stories are more of sensations rather than well crafted traditional short stories. The stories are having more rhythmic sense rather than narrative, the stories have just loose sensations, which can be interpreted in so many different ways; Virginia Woolf is one of those It was my first exposure to Virginia Woolf's works and I enjoyed every line of the book. Virginia Woolf is one of those modern authors who reshaped the way fiction is written; she really redefines the boundaries of fiction as the stories are more of sensations rather than well crafted traditional short stories. The stories are having more rhythmic sense rather than narrative, the stories have just loose sensations, which can be interpreted in so many different ways; Virginia Woolf is one of those authors who understand human psychology in true sense, she uses words with a precision of surgeon and webs those to create a vivid world of sensations and memories. In her short fiction Woolf typically focused on minute physical detail and experimented with stream-of-consciousness techniques, interior monologue, and symbolism to capture the subjective workings of human thought.The elements of 'stream of consciousness' could be traced in the stories and those are used so effortlessly by the author as she understands human nature better than any human being. The precision of her words and her language captures the scope of the world, Woolf brings out the voice of objects on paper as if those objects are alive and have a voice of their own A Haunted House: "The window panes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the apple turned its yellow side. Yet, the moments after, if the door was opened, spread about the floor, hung from the walls, pendants from the ceiling- what? My hands were empty. The shadow of a thrush crossed the carpet; from the deepest walls of silence the wood pigeon drew its bubble of sound. 'Safe, safe, safe,'the pulse of house beat softly....." 'Monday or Tuesday' has loose web of words without narrative and the story can be interpreted in different ways-it can be considered as a cornerstone of literary modernism- "Flaunted, leaf-light, drifting at corners, blown across the wheels, silver-splashed, home or not home, gathered, scattered, squandered in separate scales, swept up, down, torn, sunk, assembled–and truth?" An unwritten novel: Woolf has artistic imagination at work, raising doubts about its own creations, asking questions, and posing alternative interpretations; cancels those as invalid, mistaken interpretation, or rejects them as inadequate. She develops the narrative using all the uncertainties, mistakes, hesitations; the story can be sought as an example of meta-fiction- as the author uses experimental style to shaping fiction out of everyday observations and sensations. "SUCH AN EXPRESSION of unhappiness was enough by itself to make one's eyes slide above the paper's edge to the poor woman's face–insignificant without that look, almost a symbol of human destiny with it. Life's what you see in people's eyes; life's what they learn, and, having learnt it, never, though they seek to hide it, cease to be aware of–what?" "Running it in and out, across and over, spinning a web through which God himself–hush, don't think of God! How firm the stitches are! You must be proud of your darning. Let nothing disturb her. Let the light fall gently, and the clouds show an inner vest of the first green leaf. Let the sparrow perch on the twig and shake the raindrop hanging to the twig's elbow.... Why look up? Was it a sound, a thought? Oh, heavens! Back again to the thing you did, the plate glass with the violet loops? But Hilda will come. Ignominies, humiliations, oh! Close the breach." Kew Gardens: In Kew Gardens, Woolf further expanded her experimental styles - the author has revoked human moods and philosophic reflections instead of traditional narratives. "FROM THE OVAL-SHAPED flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. The petals were voluminous enough to be stirred by the summer breeze, and when they moved, the red, blue and yellow lights passed one over the other, staining an inch of the brown earth beneath with a spot of the most intricate colour. The light fell either upon the smooth, grey back of a pebble, or, the shell of a snail with its brown, circular veins, or falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue and yellow the thin walls of water that one expected them to burst and disappear. Instead, the drop was left in a second silver grey once more, and the light now settled upon the flesh of a leaf, revealing the branching thread of fibre beneath the surface, and again it moved on and spread its illumination in the vast green spaces beneath the dome of the heart-shaped and tongue-shaped leaves. Then the breeze stirred rather more briskly overhead and the colour was flashed into the air above, into the eyes of the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July." 'The Mark on the Wall': The story is an example of symbolism since the mark on the wall is symbolised to different things for ascertaining what that mark could be, but the narrator is never sure about it. This confusion about the identity of the mark on the wall can be interpreted as the confusion that people have in relation to the meaning of life- "But for that mark, I’m not sure about it; I don’t believe it was made by a nail after all; it’s too big, too round, for that. I might get up, but if I got up and looked at it, ten to one I shouldn’t be able to say for certain; because once a thing’s done, no one ever knows how it happened.” The narrator expects people to develop ideas of their own -“Everybody follows somebody, such is the philosophy of Whitaker” In the last phase of story, the narrator takes about shedding off dogmas-" And what is knowledge? What are our learned men save the descendants of witches and hermits who crouched in caves and in woods brewing herbs, interrogating shrew-mice and writing down the language of the stars? And the less we honour them as our superstitions dwindle and our respect for beauty and health of mind increases.... Yes, one could imagine a very pleasant world. A quiet, spacious world, with the flowers so red and blue in the open fields. A world without professors or specialists or house-keepers with the profiles of policemen, a world which one could slice with one's thought as a fish slices the water with his fin, grazing the stems of the water-lilies, hanging suspended over nests of white sea eggs.... How peaceful it is down here, rooted in the centre of the world and gazing up through the grey waters, with their sudden gleams of light, and their reflections–if it were not for Whitaker's Almanack–if it were not for the Table of Precedency!" Lappin and Lapinova: The protagonist of the story, Rosalind constructs an alternative fantasy world where Ernest is a rabbit king called Lappin and she herself – a hare called Queen Lapinova since she couldn't adjust to her marriage. "Rosalind had still to get used to the fact that she was Mrs. Ernest Thorburn. Perhaps she never would get used to the fact that she was Mrs. Ernest Anybody, she thought, as she sat in the bow window of the hotel looking over the lake to the mountains, and waited for her husband to come down to breakfast." Woolf in a few pages does a brilliant job of depicting how subtle things can have a great effect on relationships. She shows us how delicate love can sometimes be. "The golden table became a moor with the gorse in full bloom; the din of voices turned to one peal of lark’s laughter ringing down from the sky. It was a blue sky — clouds passed slowly. And they had all been changed — the Thorburns. She looked at her father-in-law, a furtive little man with dyed moustaches. His foible was collecting things — seals, enamel boxes, trifles from eighteenth-century dressing tables which he hid in the drawers of his study from his wife. Now she saw him as he was — a poacher, stealing off with his coat bulging with pheasants and partridges to drop them stealthily into a three-legged pot in his smoky little cottage. That was her real father-in-law — a poacher. And Celia, the unmarried daughter, who always nosed out other people’s secrets, the little things they wished to hide — she was a white ferret with pink eyes, and a nose clotted with earth from her horrid underground nosings and pokings. Slung round men’s shoulders, in a net, and thrust down a hole — it was a pitiable life — Celia’s; it was none of her fault. So she saw Celia. And then she looked at her mother-in-law — whom they dubbed The Squire. Flushed, coarse, a bully — she was all that, as she stood returning thanks, but now that Rosalind — that is Lapinova — saw her, she saw behind her the decayed family mansion, the plaster peeling off the walls, and heard her, with a sob in her voice, giving thanks to her children (who hated her) for a world that had ceased to exist..." Overall, it can be said that Woolf's experiments with poetic style, her psychological focus, and her subjective point of view expanded the limits of time and perception within the framework of the short story, influencing and contributing significantly to the development of modern short fiction.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dolors

    One can sense Woolf’s need to push the boundaries of fiction in these short stories more openly than in her novels. As she experiments with literary techniques and poetic resources in order to express the inexpressible, she captures the transience of the present moment and dissects its multiple perspectives through minute, exquisite description. And so, a green glass can become a fantastic world where color and darkness fuse with the mood of the absent narrator, a passing reflection on a mirror One can sense Woolf’s need to push the boundaries of fiction in these short stories more openly than in her novels. As she experiments with literary techniques and poetic resources in order to express the inexpressible, she captures the transience of the present moment and dissects its multiple perspectives through minute, exquisite description. And so, a green glass can become a fantastic world where color and darkness fuse with the mood of the absent narrator, a passing reflection on a mirror entails the story of a lifetime, a mark on the wall invites the observant mind to meditate on existential issues. All of these transmutations and many others are bathed in alternating scathing humor and unsentimental yearning that add a sophisticated touch to the compilation. Woolf’s magisterial use of the word has a double effect; that of giving sensory dimension to the most insignificant detail of everyday life and a matchless faculty to preserve what is naturally evanescent in spite of the merciless passage of time. Like life itself, many of these tales lack a neat conclusion; they rather linger disquietingly into the mind of the mesmerized reader who tries to figure out what it is exactly that he has read. “More rhythm than narrative”, that’s how Woolf herself describes her short stories. I would also add that she creates an aura around everyday life without disguising the tedium, the ordinariness of uneventful days wasted and gone down the drain and the obtuse isolation in which we mostly live. She prefers unadulterated reality rather than constructing a romanticized fiction out of it, and that’s the groundbreaking approach that combined with the experimental style of these short pieces of writing makes it possible to capture the intangible essence of a moment, the sensation of simply “being”. And I do feel that in our growingly frenetic days we are in high need to learn to empty our minds and just be, like a jar of flowers sitting gracefully on a table taking in the stray sunrays that go its way and simply is what it is. Maybe we’ll find some kind of peace when our inner and outer worlds, when the self and the other, cross boundaries and merge naturally. And that is exactly what it felt like to read Woof. Disquietingly peaceful.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Often reading as fragmentary exercises in craft, Woolf's short stories experiment with the many ways in which fiction might transcribe sensation and perception. They share with the novels Woolf's signature iridescent style: her interest in interiority, her mesmerizing descriptions and meandering pace, her love of literary artifice. Her novels, though, are in the end fundamentally concerned with character and communication, the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we empathize with one another Often reading as fragmentary exercises in craft, Woolf's short stories experiment with the many ways in which fiction might transcribe sensation and perception. They share with the novels Woolf's signature iridescent style: her interest in interiority, her mesmerizing descriptions and meandering pace, her love of literary artifice. Her novels, though, are in the end fundamentally concerned with character and communication, the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we empathize with one another and share parts of ourselves with the world. By contrast, her stories often lack both distinct characters and coherent narratives; they instead accumulate impressions and reactions, while self reflexively considering the patterns of consciousness. "Kew Gardens" recreates the sense of walking about the famous garden in July, for instance, while "The Mark on the Wall" muses about the nature of human attention. In the best of Woolf's short fiction, the thoughtful exploration of what it means to feel becomes an end in itself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    A selection of prose/poetry that reminds me much of James joyce: after all, they were both working at the same time and both had experienced the modernist movement. There are lovely lines here such as "Blue are the ribs of the wrecked rowing boats"; there is what feels like prose/poetry that needs to be read and reread to (hopefully) get a grip on what, exactly, Woolf was trying to say; and there are bits that, to me, seemed like a writer scribbling: I can't imagine these notes were meant to be A selection of prose/poetry that reminds me much of James joyce: after all, they were both working at the same time and both had experienced the modernist movement. There are lovely lines here such as "Blue are the ribs of the wrecked rowing boats"; there is what feels like prose/poetry that needs to be read and reread to (hopefully) get a grip on what, exactly, Woolf was trying to say; and there are bits that, to me, seemed like a writer scribbling: I can't imagine these notes were meant to be published. But, all in all, this is a fascinating look into Woolf's world.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    I knew I should read Woolf, but I kept putting it off because I knew she wrote alot of stream-of-consciousness, which is not my favorite style. And the stream-of-consciousness stories in this collection are not my favorites, but there are some absolute gems, too, which make me understand why everyone makes such a big fuss over Woolf. I would count "Solid Objects" and "The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn" among the best short stories every written. I could read them over and over just for the I knew I should read Woolf, but I kept putting it off because I knew she wrote alot of stream-of-consciousness, which is not my favorite style. And the stream-of-consciousness stories in this collection are not my favorites, but there are some absolute gems, too, which make me understand why everyone makes such a big fuss over Woolf. I would count "Solid Objects" and "The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn" among the best short stories every written. I could read them over and over just for the loveliness of the language. Woolf did have incredible insight into human psychology and a gift for illuminating a moment.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Merry

    A mixed (and sometimes very experimental) bag but an enjoyable and fascinating reading experience.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Utterly splendid. Woolf is a master of the short story craft; she creates delicious and startling slices of life, and presents them in beautiful and original ways.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda K

    Great book to have by the nightstand and pick up every now and then, really nice to read so much of Woolf, and it vas very interesting to see her progress over time. So yeah, great read, would recommend!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Virginia Woolf understands life better than any human being. The precision of her words and her language captures the scope of the world: from the snail in "Kew Gardens" to Miranda in a space as big as the eye of a needle in "In the Orchard." "A Society" was enthralling and provocative. "The Mark on the Wall" reminded me of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." I enjoyed the way Woolf brought back the snail. My favorite story, by far, is "Solid Objects." I also loved "The Virginia Woolf understands life better than any human being. The precision of her words and her language captures the scope of the world: from the snail in "Kew Gardens" to Miranda in a space as big as the eye of a needle in "In the Orchard." "A Society" was enthralling and provocative. "The Mark on the Wall" reminded me of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." I enjoyed the way Woolf brought back the snail. My favorite story, by far, is "Solid Objects." I also loved "The Duchess and the Jeweller." "The Shooting Party" reminded me of "An Unwritten Novel," but far eerier. "Lappin and Lappinova" felt strange to me- the way Rosalind used her fantasy world as a coping mechanism was frightening and frustrating all at once. Favorite quotes: "We will find out what the world is like." [A Society] "Oh, how it whirls and surges - floats me afresh!" [An Unwritten Novel"] "The contrast between the china so vivid and alert, and the glass so mute and contemplative, fascinated him, and wondering and amazed he asked himself how the two came to exist in the same world." [Solid Objects] "Something murmuring in the distance, the world of course." [A Woman's College From Outside] "She was one of those reticent people whose minds hold their thoughts enmeshed in clouds of silence - she was filled with thoughts." [The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection] "It cut the string that held the rain." [The Shooting Party] "One after another, lamps stood up; held their yellow heads erect for a second; then were felled." [The Shooting Party] "And again he dismantled himself and became once more the little boy playing marbles in the alley where they sell stolen dogs on Sunday." [The Duchess and the Jeweller] "She felt that her icicle was being turned into water. She was being melted; dispersed; dissolved into nothingness." [Lappin and Lapinova]

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kyriakos Sorokkou

    UPDATES IN BOLD In the last week of July 2015 I was reaching the end of my Virginia Woolf Marathon, reading the last 3 books simultaneously. By the end I was ill with Virginiasis nervosa. . . This collection included stories mainly from the Monday or Tuesday collection of short stories; and a few other stories she publish in magazines, including Harper's Bazaar (Yes, Virginia Woolf was sending stories to Harper's Bazaar), along with with four full-page woodcuts by Vanessa Bell (her sister). Many of UPDATES IN BOLD In the last week of July 2015 I was reaching the end of my Virginia Woolf Marathon, reading the last 3 books simultaneously. By the end I was ill with Virginiasis nervosa. . . This collection included stories mainly from the Monday or Tuesday collection of short stories; and a few other stories she publish in magazines, including Harper's Bazaar (Yes, Virginia Woolf was sending stories to Harper's Bazaar), along with with four full-page woodcuts by Vanessa Bell (her sister). Many of the stories were not actually stories (in the conventional way), but reflections of an observer on a train, thoughts, descriptions of lamps and pot plants in dimly lit rooms. Plot is not what you are going to expect from these stories. Not my cup of tea, although some stories where intriguing (if you can call these clusters of words stories). 2.6 stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vicky P

    I came into this book having read no Virginia Woolf and not really knowing what to expect. A lot of the shorter sketches felt like things she had written just for the sake of writing and that got published because she became famous later. Almost like they weren't ever meant for the eyes of consumers. Nonetheless, she has a colorful way with words, and a couple of her "longer" stories (they were all incredibly short) I really got into. This book is best read with the idea in mind that you might I came into this book having read no Virginia Woolf and not really knowing what to expect. A lot of the shorter sketches felt like things she had written just for the sake of writing and that got published because she became famous later. Almost like they weren't ever meant for the eyes of consumers. Nonetheless, she has a colorful way with words, and a couple of her "longer" stories (they were all incredibly short) I really got into. This book is best read with the idea in mind that you might skip around and skip some things entirely. And that's okay. Would recommend to people who enjoy stream of consciousness.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Syd

    Honestly, I've read most of these stories more than once, and half the time I have no idea what's going on. Woolf used her short stories as vehicles to experiment with different voices, and it shows. I love the ones I do understand and as for the rest, I'll keep on trying.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    g o r g e o u s the perfect book to end the year.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    *2.5 stars* I love Woolf's writing and her ideas, but I really do find her fiction impenetrable. I will continue to try with it though.

  16. 5 out of 5

    BookishWordish

    I think this is true no matter the book, no matter the author: every collection of shorter fiction is going to have some strong stories, and some weak stories. Sometimes it's just a matter of personal taste. Personally, I loved some of these stories. Some of the descriptions of people, landscapes, and complex emotional interiors were incandescent and very... very recognisably Woolf. Others were weaker, probably because they'd never really been intended for publication and therefore hadn't I think this is true no matter the book, no matter the author: every collection of shorter fiction is going to have some strong stories, and some weak stories. Sometimes it's just a matter of personal taste. Personally, I loved some of these stories. Some of the descriptions of people, landscapes, and complex emotional interiors were incandescent and very... very recognisably Woolf. Others were weaker, probably because they'd never really been intended for publication and therefore hadn't undergone her extensive editing process. Even those weaker stories were still quite beautiful, though. I can't say I had the same enjoyment, overall, as I've had when reading her books. I do think I'll always enjoy her longer fiction more, and I think it suits her style much better. But I'm still glad to have read this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    This collection is interesting as a study of the evolution of Virginia's writing through the ages, but not that interesting in itself. VW's shorter fiction doesn't really compare to her novels in any way. She obviously didn't give much thought to some of them, probably not revising them very thoroughly before getting them published. And I don't think she really cared as much about her short stories as she did about her novels; some of the stories might have been written just for the money and This collection is interesting as a study of the evolution of Virginia's writing through the ages, but not that interesting in itself. VW's shorter fiction doesn't really compare to her novels in any way. She obviously didn't give much thought to some of them, probably not revising them very thoroughly before getting them published. And I don't think she really cared as much about her short stories as she did about her novels; some of the stories might have been written just for the money and others as exercises in style or sketches for future novels. One of the most interesting things for me in this collection was actually the editing; it was very complete and well done, and the editor's notes were somehow more enjoyable to read than the stories themselves.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    I'm reading stories from this collection more or less in their chronological order inbetween the novels. Trying to get a clearer sense of how her style developed. Though not too many of her short stories were published prior to her death, there are quite a few here. Thus far (I'm up to around 1920), I notice her experiments becoming more bold, from fairly straightforward character sketches to such works as "A Mark on the Wall" (1917), which uses a black unidentified spot on the opposite wall as I'm reading stories from this collection more or less in their chronological order inbetween the novels. Trying to get a clearer sense of how her style developed. Though not too many of her short stories were published prior to her death, there are quite a few here. Thus far (I'm up to around 1920), I notice her experiments becoming more bold, from fairly straightforward character sketches to such works as "A Mark on the Wall" (1917), which uses a black unidentified spot on the opposite wall as catalyst to a wide range of narrative and philosophical reflections. Wonderful to attend an author's maturation in this way.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This isn't the exact book I read, but the collected short stories of Virginia Woolf are a fascinating read because her short stories are solely about language, not plot. Her writing is so visual and delicious, I recommend reading some of her stories out loud. Some of them you may need to read once or twice to get more out of them, but if you are a fan of short stories, it will be interesting to see how different her approach is than other writers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shaktima Brien

    Virginia Woolf is a giant. Her story-telling is simply genial. Her observations, her flow to describe an object, a sensation, an evocation or a deep truth are exquisitely told. The author goes into complex and sideways thoughts when looking at material things and circumstances. She brings to your attention the most intimate details that leave you in awe of their multi-dimensional qualities. What a sophisticated mind!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    It's just not my book. I appreciate Woolf is one of the greats. Like an ancestor of the craft. But I just can't get into that heavy, clunky, descriptive style of hers. I did enjoy one story, "A Scoeity". I thought it was a nice piece of satirical rhetoric but I just can't finish this book. It puts me to sleep.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zeldawheel

    Skipping around, I like her earlier stuff more than the later stuff. I'm just not deep enough to see where the more abstract pieces are going ... although I am deep enough to realize it's somewhere beyond my intellectual comfort zone.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aase Marit

    I wanted to like it, but the only short story worth reading in this one is "A Society", all the others were rubbish to me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephie

    Exquisita, potente, real porque es Woolf.

  25. 4 out of 5

    James MacIntyre

    Absolute tosh, except the story 'A Society' which was excellent. Without that, would've taken off a star

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Quite different from her novels. More poetic I think -- less structured.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    The more I read of Virginia Woolf, the deeper in love I fall with her writing. For a long time, I was sceptical of short stories. Not as a form of writing, but just as the value it would bring to the leisure reader, which I certainly am. I tried F. Scott Fitzgerald in 2013 then Oscar Wilde. I preferred Wilde's to Fitzgerald's, but still found that I preferred novels to short fiction. Five years later, I've somehow managed to wind up with short story collections of two female writers separated by The more I read of Virginia Woolf, the deeper in love I fall with her writing. For a long time, I was sceptical of short stories. Not as a form of writing, but just as the value it would bring to the leisure reader, which I certainly am. I tried F. Scott Fitzgerald in 2013 then Oscar Wilde. I preferred Wilde's to Fitzgerald's, but still found that I preferred novels to short fiction. Five years later, I've somehow managed to wind up with short story collections of two female writers separated by nearly a century but whose short prose I have enjoyed immensely: Jhumpa Lahiri and Virginia Woolf. Two very different writers, but both excellent examples of how incredibly satisfying short stories can be. This particular collection is quite exhaustive and frankly meant for those inclined to be scholars of Virginia Woolf rather than an appreciative reader. I referred to the end notes for maybe the first third of the collection before deciding that editorial remarks on what Woolf had added or removed from a given paragraph were, while interesting, not particularly conducive to grasping the feel of each story. But they're there for those who would find literary insight from them, along with several indexes of incomplete fiction and other collections of information about her writing career. For me, mainly, reading this took longer than expected but for once this extra time to read a single book was necessary and rewarding. You cannot rush through Virginia Woolf, not even short stories, without missing out on something vital. These pieces are all of them gorgeous, though some are harder to grasp than others. It is a true art, to be able to so completely convey so much about characters and places in the span of mere pages. A day after finishing this collection, I listened to an episode called "Why should we read short stories" by The Monocle podcast. The panel does a fantastic job of explaining why short stories, when done well, are just so damn impressive: https://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-m...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Moses Hetfield

    I must confess that I did not find this book particularly powerful or gripping. Indeed, it took me a full four months to finish it because I kept getting distracted by other books that were better able to hold my attention. But in Woolf's defense, she never intended for all her short stories to be compiled and read together in one volume like this, and while the collection seemed to drag on, most individual stories within it were stellar. Woolf's writing in her short stories, as in her novels, is I must confess that I did not find this book particularly powerful or gripping. Indeed, it took me a full four months to finish it because I kept getting distracted by other books that were better able to hold my attention. But in Woolf's defense, she never intended for all her short stories to be compiled and read together in one volume like this, and while the collection seemed to drag on, most individual stories within it were stellar. Woolf's writing in her short stories, as in her novels, is utterly spectacular. The beauty of her prose brought this book up to a four star rating for me despite what I wrote in the above paragraph. While I certainly prefer her novels, I would still recommend this book to Woolf fans or anyone interested in reading her work for the first time who does not want to commit to a whole novel right away.

  29. 5 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    This volume has notes about each of the short stories. One of my favourites is The Legacy, a later work that was rejected by a US women’s magazine shortly before Virginia Woolf died. Poor old Virginia — dealing rejection at such a delicate moment. I won’t describe The Legacy’s plot points, but all in all the story, and the story of the story, is a dark-humour glimpse into a writer’s soul. This collection really a kind of reference volume — there is so much here, presented with a wealth of This volume has notes about each of the short stories. One of my favourites is The Legacy, a later work that was rejected by a US women’s magazine shortly before Virginia Woolf died. Poor old Virginia — dealing rejection at such a delicate moment. I won’t describe The Legacy’s plot points, but all in all the story, and the story of the story, is a dark-humour glimpse into a writer’s soul. This collection really a kind of reference volume — there is so much here, presented with a wealth of background information.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ananya

    Well..some stories were clearly beyond my comprehension. Virginia's enthusiasm with nature is palpable in a number of stories. A super eidetic imagery of nature, repetition of words thrice at many places, abstractness, questionable consciousness of characters, swinging through past and present are some imprints that the stories in this book have left on my heart. 'Monday or Tuesday' being my favorite, the stories were quite abstract and thought provoking.

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