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Moments Of Being: Autobiographical Writings [Paperback]

Virginia Woolf
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Oct 2002

Virginia Woolf's only autobiographical writing is to be found in this collection of five unpublished pieces. Despite Quentin Bell's comprehensive biography and numerous recent studies of her, the author's own account of her early life holds new fascination - for its unexpected detail, the strength of its emotion, and its clear-sighted judgement of Victorian values.

In 'Reminiscences' Virginia Woolf focuses on the death of her mother, 'the greatest disaster that could happen', and its effect on her father, the demanding patriarch who took a high toll of the women in his household. She surveys some of the same ground in 'A Sketch of the Past', the most important memoir in this collection, which she wrote with greater detachment and supreme command of her art shortly before her death.

Readers will be struck by the extent to which she drew on these early experiences for her novels, as she tells how she exorcised the obsessive presence of her mother by writing To the Lighthouse. The last three papers were composed to be read to the Memoir Club, a postwar regrouping of Bloomsbury, which exacted absolute candour of its members. Virginia Woolf's contributions were not only bold but also original and amusing. She describes George Duckworth's passionate efforts to launch the Stephen girls; gives her own version of 'Old Bloomsbury'; and, with wit and some malice, reflects on her connections with titled society.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (3 Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712646183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712646185
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favourite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid.

With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938).

Her major novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). All these are published by Penguin, as are her Diaries, Volumes I-V, and selections from her essays and short stories.


Product Description

Review

"One might think, from the heaps of books, that the bones of Bloomsbury had been by now well and truly disinterred...But one would be wrong, for Moments of Being is a real delight" (Jan Marsh Daily Telegraph)

"Of fascinating importance, because they are Virginia's only known autobiographical writings" (John Lehmann Sunday Telegraph)

"The book must appeal to anyone interested in Virginia Woolf and her circle" (Derek Parker The Times)

"Her manner of recall contains all those surprises and felicities of language we have come to expect when she writes, as it were, with her elbows on the table" (Richard Shone Spectator)

Book Description

'This is by far the most important book about Virginia Woolf that has appeared since her death.' Angus Wilson, Observer

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 4 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback
A brilliant insight into the mind of this amazing woman. The delicate balance of her health is understandable when one considers what she has been through. I cannot recommend this book enough total fascination, which will, without doubt lead you onto the next book by Virginia or about her.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed 16 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If, like me, you find Virginia Woolf's novels hard going, you must nevertheless read these autobiographical memoirs. They were not intended for publication and in consequence perhaps are in parts very funny, indiscreet, moving and shocking. They were first published in 1976 and a new edition with 75 previously unpublished pages was published in 1985. This new material is very significant since it deals with Virginia's and Vanessa's difficult relationship with their father and the extraordinary family ambiance in which they lived. When this 1985 edition appeared, as Hermione Lee says in her introduction, it seems to have slipped below the critical radar (my phrase!) and was virtually ignored. At that time I was reading Virginia Woolf's diaries and letters (which I can also say are immensely readable) and I am sure I would have heard about this volumn if it had been widely reviewed.
A fascinating portrait of a remarkable woman.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virginia 11 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book, setting out her thoughts and experiences. Utterly readable. And the service was second to none. Amazon does it again!
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