poppyshake

Poppyshake's 'Conquering Mount Virginia' Challenge

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I've read a couple of my challenge books since Christmas although none actually by Virginia :blush2: Deceived with Kindness by Virginia's niece Angelica Garnett which are her recollections about life growing up amongst the Bloomsbury set and A Boy at the Hogarth Press which are Richard Kennedy's musings on his time as apprentice to Leonard and Virginia at the Hogarth Press. Both were enjoyable and easy to read, Angelica's was easily the more sombre of the two .. Richard's was fairly light hearted and fun to read.

 

I do need to crack on with Virginia's books though, start the year as I mean to go on and all that :D

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Ooh, that sounds great! I've added it to my wish list. Thanks Chesil. :)

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Thanks for that Claire .. I've only just seen it :blush2: definitely adding it :D 

 

You will have noticed that I haven't progressed much with my climb :blush2: .. ordinary fiction is rather bamboozling me at the moment and it would seem downright unreasonable to foist Virginia on my less than enthusiastic reading mojo. I must get on though .. or I'll never reach the summit .. so hopefully I'll soon be dusting off my boots and trying to work out where I put my ordnance survey map :D 

I have a notion that I should maybe try another audio .. Les Mis will soon be coming to an end and .. as I've got used to being thoroughly confused through listening .. Virginia would be a very good successor. I really want to tackle The Waves in this way (it being a bit :hide: and all) but bloomin' Audible only have abridged or dramatised versions .. very annoying. They have The Years though so possibly that would be a good one to go for. I have provisionally put it in my basket until my next credit is due ... fingers crossed I have the fortitude to see it through the checkout process :D

 

Since last writing I have acquired a Kindle :blush2: and on it I have the complete works of Virginia (and yet .. the Kindle hasn't exploded or anything .. it's obviously stronger than it looks :D) .. along with some bits and pieces written about her. I should be dipping into these but haven't quite found my Kindle feet yet .. I'm hoping I will this autumn/winter.

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I have a few books by Virginia Woolf, and a few more are on my wishlist. I haven't read any of them yet (I'm intimidated by most classics for some reason). I hope you'll read some of her books sometime, good luck :)!

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I have a few books by Virginia Woolf, and a few more are on my wishlist. I haven't read any of them yet (I'm intimidated by most classics for some reason). I hope you'll read some of her books sometime, good luck :)!

Well .. the very best of luck Athena :) Of all intimidating classics .. Virginia's are probably amongst the most scary  :D .. I think she's worth the effort but not everybody does. Thanks for your good luck wishes .. I need them I can tell you  :D

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Spent a bit of a sad week battling with The Years .. I just couldn't get a full grip on it :( I didn't listen to it after all .. I saw a copy when out and about so went with that instead. I usually find something to enjoy with Virginia and there were some parts that I liked but the worst thing of all is to enjoy a book at the start and then see your interest in it just dwindle away and that's what I felt here. There was such an interesting set-up to the story but it doesn't go anywhere and some of the characters are hardly mentioned again. Never mind .. there must be clouds or we would never fully enjoy the pleasure of a bright sunny day so I'm not daunted .. well I am but I will file it away with all the cracked meringues and soggy bottoms :D I'd like to tackle Jacob's Room next if I can find a copy on my travels (will probably seen nothing but The Waves from now on in :D)

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For some reason, I've only just found this thread poppyshake - it makes fascinating reading tracking you through VW's writing.
 

Selected Letters (2008)
Selected Diaries (2008)
(having read these I would like to read the complete versions ... if I can track them down at a non-bankrupt inducing price :D).

 
Good luck with that. I've managed to acquire a complete set of her letters, but only the Selected Diaries volume plus A Passionate Apprentice (early journals 1897-1909). I've been concentrating on trying to find a complete set of her essays (Hogarth Press rather than American publications), with just volume 3 to go now! They're readily available in American paperback (and have volume 3 as such), but felt she warranted Hogarth livery!
 

Misc:
Virginia Woolf: A Biography (1882-1912) - Quentin Bell (1976) review
Virginia Woolf: A Biography (1912-1941) - Quentin Bell (1976)
A Boy at the Hogarth Press - Richard Kennedy (1978)
Thrown to the Woolfs: Leonard & Virginia Woolf and the Hogarth Press - John Lehman (1979)
Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood - Angelica Garnett (1985)
The Letters of Vita Sackville West to Virginia Woolf - edited by Louise de Salvo (1992)
Virginia Woolf - Hermione Lee (1997) review
Love Letters: Leonard Woolf & Trekkie Ritchie Parsons (1941-1968) edited by Judith Adamson (2001)
Mrs Woolf & the Servants - Alison Light (2007)
Leonard Woolf: A Life - Victoria Glendinning (2007)
Hyde Park Gate News - Virginia Woolf
The Charleston Bulletin Supplements - Virginia Woolf & Quentin Bell

 

A few others I've got that might be worth mentioning, all taking different approaches, and all highly acclaimed in their own way:


Moments of Being, Autobiographical Writings by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Life by Lyndall Gordon
Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, A Very Close Conspiracy by Jane Dunn
Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris (an introduction to VW through her books - reading recommendations at the back)
Before Leonard, The Early Suitors of Virginia Woolf by Sarah Hall
Virginia Woolf, An Inner Life by Julia Briggs
Virginia Woolf's Women by Vanessa Curtis

 

although for me, Hermione Lee's biography is an all-time great!

There's quite a lot of Lit Crit on her obviously: I've found both the Cambridge Introduction and the Cambridge Companion really helpful, along with Julia Briggs's Reading Virginia Woolf and a few others on specific books - I definitely needed one for The Waves (!), but they've been good for others as well!

 

I'm sorry you found The Years such hard going - we obviously react slightly differently to her as it's one of my favourites (as noted on your blog thread), along with To The Lighthouse, closely followed by Between the Acts and Mrs DallowayThe Waves was good, but the most challenging to date.  I'm not sure whether I enjoyed reading or completion more!   On the other hand, I can't say I'm a fan of Flush!.

Edited by willoyd

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Goodness!! It's been far too long since I've been here .. mostly because I haven't got a lot further with conquering Mount Virginia though I have read volume one of her letters and have bought a copy of The Waves .. so that's progress! :) I thought about listening to it .. and will still keep that as an option should the reading not go well (confidence :lol: ) .. as a sort of aid. Sometimes a book read well can make a lot more sense than it does when it's just tumbling about in your head. I am a little bit daunted but also intrigued and determined although I notice that I'm not that determined as I haven't yet picked it up :haha: 

 

Anyway, I'll attempt a review of volume one of her letters.

 

The Flight of the Mind: The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Volume 1, 1888-1912

 

Very insightful. By the end of this volume of letters Virginia is beginning to get her first novel (The Voyage Out) into shape .. and is a sought after literary reviewer and essayist too, writing pieces for The Guardian and The Times Literary Supplement amongst others. She goes through some extremely affecting changes during this time period. Her mother died in 1895 and her half sister, Stella, in 1897 .. and it's around this time that she experiences her first nervous breakdown (little is mentioned in the letters about any of her breakdowns .. or nothing in detail anyway as, of course, she never wrote any letters during these times so they were experiences that were only talked about with fear on their approach or loathing afterwards.) In 1904 she loses her father and his illness is much detailed here, she sends out daily bulletins to family and friends and is very instrumental in his daily care. Losing him was perhaps the biggest blow to her and it contributed to her most serious mental collapse (or thus far anyway.) Partly I think because, although extremely ill, he lingered for quite a while and Virginia was so aware of every little symptom and temperature change etc .. and then it was mostly left to her to communicate all of this to those waiting for news. Her nerves were shredded and life was practically on hold at Hyde Park Gate. Also there were financial considerations, who will provide for the family once her father has gone and where will they live?  

Perhaps the most sad loss of all though was the death of her beloved brother Thoby, from typhoid which he contracted in Greece. Virginia and Vanessa had also travelled to Greece but returned when Vanessa became unwell to find Thoby already at home .. extremely ill. Vanessa recovered but Thoby did not. One of the saddest things I read in this volume were Virginia's letters to her great friend Violet Dickinson during Thoby's illness. Violet herself was also extremely ill with typhoid and when Thoby died, Virginia felt strongly that she should keep writing to Violet as if he were still alive so as not to alarm her or bring about a crisis. So she wrote about his increasing appetite and how he might get up tomorrow etc and how the doctors were pleased with him etc :(.. and this went on for a good three weeks!!! :o Bearing in mind that Thoby .. next to Vanessa .. was the person that Virginia loved most .. it's almost inconceivable that she put herself through it. Perhaps she shouldn't have .. all these things were such a strain on her already fractured peace of mind. 

The majority of the letters printed here are to Violet, probably because she was most assiduous in keeping them, but there's a definite difference between the letters written to Violet during the first two thirds of this collection and those written after. To begin with Virginia's letters are very warm, in fact they're positively gushing .. they have pet names for each other and when apart Virginia hardly knows how she will cope before they're together again and she's always impatient for letters and news. Violet is much older (seventeen years I think or thereabouts .. and married) and Virginia is smitten with her, she relies on her for advice and comfort and there are hints that the relationship may have been a sexual one but later on, as Virginia develops and becomes more confident in her writing etc, there is a definite cooling off or a sea change anyway and it feels as if Virginia, although the younger, is leaving Violet behind .. and moving on and developing. 

Anyhow this is a fascinating collection of letters. Virginia has a sharp eye and a sharp tongue, is gossipy, witty and confiding and of course, highly intelligent and observant. Probably best of all is the insight into her writing and in particular her first novel. How she is shaping it and arguing with herself about it and fretting over it and deliberating over the names of her characters etc. Riveting! 

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Is it good to be back after 4 years? :D  I'm happy to hear you were positively riveted!  I miss writing letters and receiving them. Proper ones, I mean. Those were the days!

 

I can't believe she kept Thoby 'alive' for three weeks after his death. What a good friend she was being, but like you say, it's must've been horrible on her own good self, and so maybe she shouldn't have done it. :(  

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