on 15 September 2005
The rescue of Virginia Woolf's critical essays from obscurity by critics in recent years and the recognition that they bear significance equal to that of her novels is a delightful fact. Yet it is quite disappointing that the mention of Woolf's work, let alone the essays in particular, still often meet with general dislike, confessions to little understanding of her meanings and occasional ignorance by the general public; this is compounded by the fact that Woolf's own intention was to reach this type of audience: the alert, interested and not necessarily well-educated reader.
Reading the first volume of The Common Reader could reverse the situation. Known to few yet targeted at the wider public, the lay 'common reader' as its title suggests, this is Virginia Woolf's attempt to produce a collection of essays with an interconnecting, cyclical thematic pattern running throughout in order to connect with the reader and practise a dialogic relationship whereby the author's and the reader's mind merge for the sake of artistic creation.
Embarking on the discussion of a wide range of topics from novelists, dramatists, essayists and letter-writers to issues like the process of reading, the function of criticism and its abuse by authoritarian critics, or women's experiences of patriarchy over the centuries, this is a book designed to enrich the mind and not to bore. Definitely a good read!!