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Night and Day (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 29 Jan 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (29 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199555605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199555604
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 3 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,514 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.


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Review

'Together these ten volumes make an attractive and reasonably priced (the volumes vary between £3.99 and £4.99) 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

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. Coward on 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 By Bookfan on 4 Jun. 2013
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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Sept. 2008
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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By Melvyn Elphee on 7 Mar. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Much superb writing but the overwhelming impression is that Vigirinia and her characters had too much time on their hands to disappear into their own orifices. In the end I was impatient with their internal and external lives and the awareness that all this was going on at a time when thousands were dying in the trenches diminished my respect for this egocentric, self-obsessed approach to life. Even so, it has insights and illuminations that cannot be ignored.
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