Sunday, 22 March 2009
The Common Reader
I am about to begin a literary journey into the world of Virginia Woolf by reading all of her major works in chronological order.
I read a little bit about Virginia Woolf when I studied English Literature A-level and I had attempted to read The Waves on a whim, but it was not until the film, The Hours, that I decided to take more of an interest in her. My first attempts at reading her work were not very successful. I painfully worked my way through Mrs Dalloway and struggled to the end of To The Lighthouse.
Then I read A Writers Diary and in quick succession after that Quentin Bell’s wonderful biographies of her life and it all started to make a lot more sense. What I came to realise is that you cannot separate Virginia Woolf from her writing and in order to understand her writing you need to start to understand her. For Virginia, her whole life was built around her need to write things down and she does this both for her fictional world as well as capturing her life in her many volumes of diaries. As you read through her diaries you get a very clear sense of how her work develops and progresses as she comments on new ideas and how she feels things are working.
For this reason I am going to read all of her major works, as well as some shorter stories, in chronological order. I am also going to read extracts of her diary that she was writing at the same times as the novels to see what her moods and thoughts were at the time she wrote the books. I am hoping that by reading the diaries I will gain an insight into her thoughts and by reading her work in the order it was written that I will be able to see the progression of her ideas.
I have no idea how long this will take me, with my long train commute I can usually read a book in a week, but I may take a break between each book. Along the way I will be posting my thoughts on the books and welcome comments