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Selected Essays (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Virginia Woolf , David Bradshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Oct 2009 Oxford World's Classics
'A good essay must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in, not out.'

According to Virginia Woolf, the goal of the essay 'is simply that it should give pleasure...It should lay us under a spell with its first word, and we should only wake, refreshed, with its last.' One of the best practitioners of the art she analysed so rewardingly, Woolf displayed her essay-writing skills across a wide range of subjects, with all the craftsmanship, substance, and rich allure of her novels. This selection brings together thirty of her best essays, including the famous 'Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown', a clarion call for modern fiction. She discusses the arts of writing and of reading, and the particular role and reputation of women writers. She writes movingly about her father and the art of biography, and of the London scene in the early decades of the twentieth century. Overall, these pieces are as indispensable to an understanding of this great writer as they are enchanting in their own right.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (15 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199556067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199556069
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Brilliant and subtle essays. (Independent on Sunday.)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
The spread of education and the necessity which haunts us to impart what we have acquired have led, and will lead still further, to some startling results. Read the first page
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musings from Bloomsbury's past 11 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some of these essays were written to be read aloud but most were for the reading audience. As ever Virginia Woolf's command of prose is awe-inspiring; she argues elegantly. Her wit and passion are evident throughout. I was very taken with a Mrs Brown, a metaphor for how different authors approach the characters that people their novels. She also demonstrates a great deal of humanity and dispels the notion that essays on such esoteric subjects as "Memories of a Working Women's Guild" by such an illuminatory will be academic and bloodless.
However, I got a sense of history in these essays and how society and writing have moved on since Mrs Woolf argued her case for getting to the heart of her subjects along with Joyce as opposed to the Victorian writers who excelled in extensive descriptions of place and situations. But maybe on reflection the same comparison can also be drawn with contemporary novelists.....So a thought provoking read. Also, not to be missed for the brilliant essay "On being ill". Here is a lady who knows something about being unwell.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource, surprisingly entertaining! 1 Aug 2008
By Philip Hale VINE VOICE
I bought this collection of essays as background reading for an essay on The Waves (Wordsworth Classics) which I had to write as part of my A2 English coursework. The pages are thick and the type isn't smudgy like many cheap books, which matters to me. I looked at some other essay collections on Amazon, but this is by far the best. I was worried that it would only contain a sample of Woolf's essays, but fortunately the editor(s) have included all the important essays regarding Woman & Fiction and her views on Fiction. Although this was bought as a study aid, I was amazed at how fascinating the essays are to read, Woolf manages to convey quite complex ideas in a way that is very accessible even after an hour or so of reading. I found the references to Georgian and Elizabethan writers a bit beyond me to start with, but it didn't take much research before the references became more familiar.

If you are studying Virginia Woolf at any level or just wish to hear some extraordinary musings on themes still relevant to us today, I recommend this collection!
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 4 Feb 2009
As all work by Virginia Woolf a fascinating read. There is so much to be gained from the words of Virginia Woolf well beyond what she has actually written. Food for thought.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oxford World's Classics Edition 31 Dec 2013
By A. Kreutzer - Published on
This is a wonderful collection of Virginia Woolf's essays, essential for anyone interested in Woolf and her art but completely engaging for the casual reader as well. Woolf covers a great deal of ground here in her distinctive prose, engaging in matters artistic, political, social and personal (often, of course, questioning and subverting the distinctions among these categories). All of the essays are charged with her extraordinary intelligence and wit. Many of them are at moments playful, many poignant, and almost all of them surprising in the best possible ways. It's particularly interesting, for instance, to read Woolf's musings on the nascent art of cinema. She also writes very movingly about her father. Best of all, though, for me, are the extraordinary "On Being Ill" and the essays containing Woolf's observations of modern life ("Thunder at Wembley" and "Street Haunting: A London Adventure" particularly). Although each piece is a delight to read on its own, taken as a whole this volume shines a light into Woolf's values, concerns, methods, and personality--it's a valuable companion to her novels. And it contains a wonderfully insightful and companionable introduction and very helpful notes. Most highly recommended.
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