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Night and Day (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Virginia Woolf , Suzanne Raitt
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Night and Day (Oxford World's Classics) Night and Day (Oxford World's Classics) 4.2 out of 5 stars (4)
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Book Description

12 Aug 1999 0192837842 978-0192837844 New edition
Katherine Hilbery, torn between past and present, is a figure reflecting Woolf's own struggle with history. Both have illustrious literary ancestors: in Katherine's case, her poet grandfather, and in Woolf's, her father Leslie Stephen, writer, philosopher, and editor. Both desire to break away from the demands of the previous generation without disowning it altogether. Katherine must decide whether or not she loves the iconoclastic Ralph Denham; Woolf seeks a way of experimenting with the novel for that still allows her to express her affection for the literature of the past. This is the most traditional of Woolf's novels, yet even here we can see her beginning to break free; in this, her second novel, with its strange mixture of comedy and high seriousness, Woolf had already found her own characteristic voice.

Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (12 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192837842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192837844
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,677,254 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


'Together these ten volumes make an attractive and reasonably priced (the volumes vary between GBP3.99 and GBP4.99) working edition of Virginia Woolf's best-known writing. One can only hope that their success will prompt World's Classics to add her other essays to the series in due course.' Elisabeth Jay, Westminster College, Oxford, Review of English Studies, Vol. XLV, No. 178, May '94 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Woolf was an innovator who redefined the novel and pointed the way towards its future possibilities.' Jeanette Winterson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an escape from conventions of society 9 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Night and Day, Virginia Woolf's second novel, already displays the largeness of ambition which characterize the mature novelist. It is a study in contrasts between companionship and solitude, men and women, who, with alternate success and failure, try to resist the tendencies of their social groups and seek to define their own natural tendencies by separating accidental and superficial sympathies and antipathies from deeper feelings. In search of their true selves, they finally manage to escape the conventions of society.
The novel tells the story of Katharine Hilbery's gradual release from a life to which she has been ill-suited - a life of paying calls, pouring tea, being the research assistant and dutiful daughter of her parents. She does not have any responsibilities other than those of her social life and the household duties imposed. But despite her apparent passive acceptance, Katharine desperately seeks to escape from the frivolities of society to study mathematics and to dream of a different life. She falls in love with Ralph Denham, a young lawyer who works for a solicitor and writes articles for Mr. Hilbery's journal; he is poor but he has big qualities. His ambitions are stifled by his mother and six or seven brothers and sister who are dependent on him, and he seems to despise society and people like the Hilberys who lead idle lives and have plenty of money to spend. Ralph also takes refuge in his room from domestic life in order to work and to indulge in dreams.
Virginia Woolf brilliantly depicts the atmosphere in an intellectual middle-class family in early twentieth century British society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book 9 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As with all Woolfs novels, it is a pleasure to read and to reflect on the writing style of the time, which modern authors could emulate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No, not the film or the song 4 Jun 2013
By Bookfan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A conventional romance, but only in relative terms -- it's VW, after all. Elements of Henry James, Shakespearean comedy, The Office, A Room with a View.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Woolf's flawed second novel 8 Sep 2008
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Katherine Hilbery has everything - she is beautiful, well-born, intelligent, kind, reflective, sensitive, though not in a sentimental way, but... bored. She must find a purpose in life, other than being of a wealthy Chelsea family and the descendant of a famous poet, and she must choose between the weak-willed sophisticate William and the tempestuous Ralph. Though the love of the self-sacrificing suffragette Mary Datchet for Ralph and the upcoming law-clerk's failure to realise he is in thrall to Katherine provide a few twists and turns, such is in essence the plot of Night and Day.

All would be well if this were the psychological drama it appears to be, set in an atmospheric turn-of-the-century London. But Virginia Woolf also pursues a political message: in this novel, women answer to male stereotypes and vice versa. The women are logical and career-minded, the men coy and romantic. This might be fine, and it makes for a few good scenes, except that it doesn't quite fit the characters. Mary's ill-starred fate seems gratuitous. Katherine's interest in mathematics is too obviously a code, never properly illustrated. And her falling in love with Ralph isn't credible - she is too good for him, and it is all too sudden. It seems Night and Day can't quite choose what it is supposed to be: psychological or social comedy. It lacks the simplicity of Woolf's first novel The Voyage Out, the wistfulness of Mrs Dalloway, or the experimental complexity of her later works.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  196 reviews
35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing 24 Oct 2003
By A Customer - Published on
As in the other Virginia Woolf books I have read, what strikes me first and foremost is the wonderful writing. The descriptions are phenomenal, starting with the surroundings and continuing with the character's facial expressions. Some of the passages are pure poetry and the characters are beautifully and consistently drawn out. Oddly, although we know that Katharine is beautiful, we do not get a description of her, or of any other person in the story, with the exception of William Rodney.
Woolf became a little heavy when it went into the minds of the characters who are in crises, but as one reaches the end of the book, all is forgiven.
An excellent read!
63 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books I've read 8 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Woolf portrays the fascinations of self-discovery through relationships with other people, and she also looks into the intricacies of love--are we aware of love? What is the importance of love in a person's life? Does one need it to be happy? Taking a peek into the answers of these questions along with adding delightful humor that made me laugh out loud made this book terrific. The characters are interesting and you can choose for yourself whether or not you like them. I would definitely recommend this book--its many levels are enjoyable for all ages and both sexes!
47 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book 23 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Virginia Woolf does such a wonderful job of revealing the many facets of an individual. In this book, she applies that task to couples in love. It is a marvel that she not only identifies the many nuances of a glance, a word, a movement, but that she also conveys them to the reader in a perfect sentence. This book, unlike some of her others, seems written to appeal to a broader audience. It is "easier" than some of her other fiction, but is by no means a bore for Woolf fans.
49 of 64 people found the following review helpful
By Rick Shaq Goldstein - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the eighth installment in the "Jesse Stone" novel series and the reader can't even get past the first paragraph without the author referencing Jesse's bothersome (to readers) ex-wife Jenn. Fans of the previous "Jesse Stone" novels have long since pulled their hair out with Jesse's on going on-and-off relationship with the unfaithful... sleeps with whoever can benefit her career at the moment... Jenn. Even with Jesse's own character deficiencies... no one in even half their right mind would believe that such a righteous... logical... beacon... of small town law enforcement... like Jesse... would put up with Jenn's treatment. This Stone episode has multiple plots, ranging from a school principal who makes thirteen-year-old female students line up in a room so she can lift their dresses up to check their underwear before a school dance... to a Peeping Tom... who dubs himself... "The Night Hawk"... whose voyeuristic peccadillos... are escalating to the point that Jesse is afraid where they may lead to... and to a local wife-swapping-club that is affecting the well being of two children.

For loyal Jesse Stone fans... the endangered children... allows Jesse to once again show that despite his minimalistic dialogue... that a big caring heart... beats within. In addition to all these criminal activities that Jesse must deal with simultaneously... Jenn moves to New York for a TV opportunity... and lo-and-behold... she moves in with the TV producer. As a by-product of all these concurrent issues... the reader gets to spend many nights with Jesse in his home... meticulously mixing his scotch... sharing intimate conversations with the poster on his wall of his baseball idol... Hall Of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith... and of course... there is endless gazing out of his French doors... to the sounds and views in the harbor.

Parker threads the story with many of his characters that loyal Spenser/Randall readers have become acquainted with over the years... Rita Fiore... Sunny Randall... and the mentioning of the one and only... Susan Silverman... who luckily is only mentioned... and not involved in her normal "baby-bunny-like-nibbling-on-a-piece-of-lettuce". Price conscious potential readers may want to wait till the paperback is released or go to the library, since there really is not that much to actually read. Though the book is two-hundred-eighty-nine pages long, most of the seventy-four-chapters are four pages... and the last page is almost always 1/3 to 2/3's blank... and the first page of each chapter is blank... and most of the sentences in the book are extremely short.

Here is an example of SEVENTEEN "full" lines of writing:

"And his wife," Jesse said.
"yeah, and me, for crissakes."
"Insufferable," Jesse said.
"Doesn't it make you mad?"
"I was thinking about other stuff," Jesse said.
"Like what?"
"What do you think of her story?"
Molly paused in mid-anger.
"Her story," she said.
Molly sat back a little and thought about it.
"He hit her," Molly said.
Jesse nodded.
"He fondled her," Molly said.
"And"--Molly began to speak fast--"he tied her up."

This is really a short story with probably one-hundred-twenty-five pages of complete writing. It's an enjoyable little tale (minus Jenn) that gets the reader in and out quickly. It may not get you through a one-way cross country flight.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Transforming Power of Art 25 Nov 2004
By John Sollami - Published on
Here is an artist at work, painting the nuances of the heart, creating living people, reacting to the subtleties of mood, ambiance, the weather, and external perceptions that make up how we live and who we are. No matter what you think of these people, you have a chance to live with them and understand them, feel their conflicts, their love, and their pains. Virginia Woolf is the ballast that offsets all the one-book-wonder authors, the cynics, the nasty moderns, and those authors who have given up on anything positive in the world. Like Shakespeare, her work will live on long after so many others are forgotten. That's because she offers us art, hope, vision, and the truth about our humanity. It's all here in this book, if you choose to read it.
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