The Common Reader PDF ´ The Common ePUB ´

The Common Reader PDF ´ The Common ePUB ´


The Common Reader ➾ [Download] ➾ The Common Reader By Virginia Woolf ➳ – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Woolf s first and most popular volume of essays This collection hasthan twenty five selections, including such important statements as Modern Fiction and The Modern Essay Woolf s first and most popular volume of essays This collection hasthan twenty five selections, including such important statements as Modern Fiction and The Modern Essay.


10 thoughts on “The Common Reader

  1. Violet wells Violet wells says:

    It s appropriate that my 100th GR review should be a book that attempts to shift literary criticism from the hallowed office into the sitting room as all of us here on Goodreads are the common reader , a voice that in Woolf s day barely existed In the final essay she has a dig at her contemporary professional critics I m presently reading a novel which according to The New York Times Book Review and The Boston Globe is the work of a rare genius the truth though is, as any common reader end It s appropriate that my 100th GR review should be a book that attempts to shift literary criticism from the hallowed office into the sitting room as all of us here on Goodreads are the common reader , a voice that in Woolf s day barely existed In the final essay she has a dig at her contemporary professional critics I m presently reading a novel which according to The New York Times Book Review and The Boston Globe is the work of a rare genius the truth though is, as any common reader endowed with a functioning critical faculty would no doubt agree, that it s simply a very ordinary novel with no distinguishing virtue So can we trust professional critics now anythan we can trust marketing departments to give us an honest assessment of the worth of a book The answer, of course, is no To a far greater extent we can trust our fellow readers here One of the overriding impressions here is that Woolf is muchgenerous and kind in her criticism than in her praise My favourite essays were those on obscure writers of memoirs None of these clearly had much literary merit and yet with what delight and affection she read them and how brilliantly she brought before our eyes the eccentricities of their authors These were the ones that made me laugh out loud That gave me a vivid sense of Virginia Woolf s conversation at a dinner table I ve always imagined Woolf to be like a female Byron in conversation, witty, yes, a bit snotty but also expansive and ultimately self effacing Because of this it has always annoyed me that she is invariably portrayed on screen as some kind of mawkish, gibbering bag woman as was the case in the recent BBC Bloomsbury drama and in Nicole Kidman s interpretation of her in the film of The Hours On the other hand she tends to be a little mean and begrudging in her praise She can write about Joyce Mr Joyce is spiritual he is concerned at all costs to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes its messages through the brain, and in order to preserve it he disregards with complete courage whatever seems to him adventitious, whether it be probability, or coherence, or any other of these signposts which for generations have served to support the imagination of a reader when called upon to imagine what he can neither touch or see Only to later dismiss Ulysses as a memorable catastrophe Lawrence gets similar treatment And the chapter on Emily Bronte is probably the most uninspired It was her belief that Emily Bronte s poems would outlive her novel Wuthering Heights however can be found on every list of the greatest novels ever written, something not true of Conrad s early work which Woolf, unusually, praises without reservations So even Woolf wasn t foolproof in her assessments There s also a sense of how competitive she is with both contemporaries and other women a major factor in her friendship with Katherine Mansfield There s her famous comment about Middlemarch but then she will help us understand why it s not as grown up as War and Peace where every relationship is so muchfinely tuned and the imaginative reach of Tolstoy excels anything Eliot is capable of She remarks that Eliot s heroines talk too much and comments on the fumbling which shook Eliot s hand when she had to conceive a fit mate for her heroines And I remembered how Dorothea s relationship with Ladislaw, written perhaps with all critical faculties in abeyance, borders on being the kind of young girl s wish fulfilment liaison we expect from formulaic romantic fiction Above all else, reading this helped me understand the nature of the imperatives behind what Woolf wanted to achieve in her own work


  2. Michael Michael says:

    A far cry from her wistful and introspective fiction, Woolf s essays on literature read as lively, droll, and conversational These essays focus on famous literary figures as well as the craft of fiction written in confident but inviting prose designed specifically for what Woolf called the common reader, they interweave biography, wit, social commentary, and literary analysis Woolf typically seems disinterested in offering definitive arguments or reaching grand conclusions She instead concer A far cry from her wistful and introspective fiction, Woolf s essays on literature read as lively, droll, and conversational These essays focus on famous literary figures as well as the craft of fiction written in confident but inviting prose designed specifically for what Woolf called the common reader, they interweave biography, wit, social commentary, and literary analysis Woolf typically seems disinterested in offering definitive arguments or reaching grand conclusions She instead concerns herself with viewing a given writer or topic from several interpretive angles so that she might reveal as much about her subject as she can in a single essay, to a broad audience consisting of non academic readers Favorite essays included Notes on an Elizabethan Play, Modern Fiction, Outlines, and How it Strikes a Contemporary


  3. Rakhi Dalal Rakhi Dalal says:

    The first thing that occurs to you while reading Virginia s essays is that they are not laced with academic, high brow language and style In fact, her writing is so accessible that it easily seems to mirror a common reader s thoughts and expressions While writing these essays, nearly twenty five of them in this collection, Virginia offers a glimpse into her mind and it becomes clear how she manages to write so lucidly yet so unassumingly She writes as she knows the reader will enjoy reading The first thing that occurs to you while reading Virginia s essays is that they are not laced with academic, high brow language and style In fact, her writing is so accessible that it easily seems to mirror a common reader s thoughts and expressions While writing these essays, nearly twenty five of them in this collection, Virginia offers a glimpse into her mind and it becomes clear how she manages to write so lucidly yet so unassumingly She writes as she knows the reader will enjoy reading And it goes without saying for both her novels and essays, though if I may add it is her essays which demonstrate her skill as a writereffectively In this collection, most of the essays are memoirs of people both well known like Chaucer, Jane Austen, Defoe, Montaigne, Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad as well as relatively lesser knowns like Edgeworth, Pilkington, Ms Mitford, Bentley and a fewWe also have some well known essays like Modern Fiction , The Modern Essay and How it strikes a Contemporary in this beautiful collection Woolf s words, quite naturally, turn from being sincere and open to joyously humorous and sensibly satirical, as and when her thoughts demand, so that there is never a dull moment when we read her As a matter of fact, her words come out so effortlessly that the essays seem to be written over in single sittings each, perhaps without any editing being ever done.I am quoting here some of the quotes which I loved in this collection, and I recommend a reading of this volume to the readers who enjoy Woolf s writing as well as to the aspiring writers who find themselves struggling between the glorious past of literature and the mayhem which seems to be spreading over the present or the future of contemporary writings From The Pastons and Chaucer It is safe to say that not a single law has been framed or one stone set upon another because of anything that Chaucer said or wrote and yet, as we read him, we are absorbing morality at every pore.From The Elizabethan Lumber Room We carry with us the wonders we seek without us there is all Africa and her prodigies in us.From Montaigne For beyond the difficulty of communicating oneself, there is the supreme difficulty of being oneself This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us If one has to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say Other people, for instance, long ago made up their minds that old invalidish gentleman ought to stay at home and edify the rest of us by the spectacle of their connubial fidelity The soul of Montaigne said, on the contrary, that it is in the old age that one ought to travel, and marriage, which rightly, is very seldom founded on love, is apt to become, towards the end of life, a formal tie better broken up.From Modern Fiction Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged life is a luminous halo, a semi transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.Contrary to her troubled mind, her writing is, strangely, quite optimistic towards life


  4. Anna Luce Anna Luce says:

    4 starsThroughout the course of my undergraduate degree I consistently and persistently avoided Virginia Woolf s body of work as on the best of days I have little patience for stream of consciousness especially of the Joycean variety and modernist literature When my lecturers mentioned Woolf they always seemed to confirm my impression of her being a pretentious snob so I didn t feel particularly inclined to pick up her impenetrably introspective novels.As of late, I ve been wanting to r 4 starsThroughout the course of my undergraduate degree I consistently and persistently avoided Virginia Woolf s body of work as on the best of days I have little patience for stream of consciousness especially of the Joycean variety and modernist literature When my lecturers mentioned Woolf they always seemed to confirm my impression of her being a pretentious snob so I didn t feel particularly inclined to pick up her impenetrably introspective novels.As of late, I ve been wanting to readessays and, for some reason or other, I ended up reading Woolf s The Common Readerand I m glad I did Yes, her worldview betrays a certain elitism but given her time period I don t feel particularly slighted by her notion of common reader or by the way in which she refers to cultures outside of Britain once again Italians are referred to as a vaguely uncivilised Southern race Woolf s essays are faraccessible than I d imagined them to be Unlike her fiction, here Woolf s prose does not stray into the obscure, and needlessly confounding, territories of the English language Here her lexicon is not only crystal clear but simply captivating She writes with such eloquence and vitality, demonstrating her extensive knowledge of her subjects without giving herself airs In fact, these essays never seem to reveal Woolf s presence as she does not write as an I but as a we While in clumsier hands I would have found the we to be patronising, Woolf s essays are anything but She includes us with ease, making us feel as if we were active participants in her analysis Her subjects too are not passive figures easily relegated to the past Her evocative descriptions have an immediacy that makes us momentarily forget that these authors are long dead Woolf does not waste time in recounting the entire careers and lives of her biographees With a few carefully articulated phrases she hones in on the essence of these writers and their work Woolf whisks away by asking us to imagine alongside her these authors in their everyday lives, by speaking of their household, their country, and their world, with such familiarity as to convince us that she knew each one of them.Her essays certainly demonstrate a wealth of knowledge Woolf creates a myriad of connections, drawing upon history and philosophy in an engaging and enlightening manner Certain historical facts went over my head, but that is probably due to my non British schooling Nevertheless, even when I wasn t sure of whom she was writing about or the significance of one of her references, I still felt very much involved by what I was reading Woolf s examination of the interplay between critics, readers, and writers becomes the central leitmotif of this collection Time and again Woolf interrogates the way in which a writer is influenced by their readers and critics, and of the way in which this knowledge of a future readership shapes their writing Woolf surveys different types of authors fiction such as Daniel Defoe, Joseph Conrad, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte and Emily Bront , essayists such as Montaigne , poets, playwrights, and those historical figures who escape definition such as the incomparable Margaret Cavendish In On not knowing Greek and The Russian Point of View Woolf turns to language and translation while in Modern Fiction , The Modern Essay , How it Strikes a Contemporary , and How Should One Read a Book she considers the many faces of writing and the differences between classic and contemporary fiction authors Even in those instances in which our interpretations differed, I recognised that her arguments were informative and persuasive It is perhaps Woolf s dialogic wit that makes her suppositions all thecompelling.More impressive still is Woolf s description of one of my least favourite literary styles in her much quoted essay titled Modern Fiction Here her authorial presence isfelt as she expresses a wish to read fiction that reflects the continuous and incongruous flow of our thoughts.I thoroughly recommend this to bibliophiles of all sorts Whether you consider yourself a common reader or not Woolf s essays have a lot to offer.Readreviews on my blog View all my reviews on Goodreads


  5. Alison Alison says:

    By turns delightful, instructive, and illuminating I don t think I ve done so much simultaneous marking and laughing aloud since school One of the great pleasures was in learning about writers I knew nothing about, from the famous ones to the totally obscure Woolf could summarize like nobody s business she delighted in making long semi coloned lists of absurdities as I believe she remarked of some other writer in the collection she could distill a writer s entire oeuvre into a few short, By turns delightful, instructive, and illuminating I don t think I ve done so much simultaneous marking and laughing aloud since school One of the great pleasures was in learning about writers I knew nothing about, from the famous ones to the totally obscure Woolf could summarize like nobody s business she delighted in making long semi coloned lists of absurdities as I believe she remarked of some other writer in the collection she could distill a writer s entire oeuvre into a few short, sharp, enviable words, yet, when the writer s worth reading, Woolf s remarks only invite the reader to explore the workthoroughly they re an invitation, rather than a closure On the other hand, she could also damn with faint praise, as in Miss Mitford Another great pleasure was in the conversation about writers I knew a great deal about, so that I rejoiced in every insightful compliment to Jane Austen s and Emily Bronte s genius, and to the experience of reading the very flawed but utterly ravishing Jane Eyre which, if I were honest, I d acknowledge as Number One Favorite for me, knocking out To the Lighthouse and Lolita There was rarely a moment when I didn t find the book inspirational She made me think about things I hadn t, but should have, noted in Chekhov and Dostoevsky she could talk The Writer s Life with freshness and insight she made me ashamed of my lack of generosity and hard work as a reader And, I was struck by the conversation even in those rare moments where I disagreed with her I m not sure I found her discussion of Heart of Darkness seaworthy I found her analysis of Dorothea in Middlemarch ridiculous, in a way that should have been kind of personally embarrassing to Woolf herself I both agree and disagree with her attitude toward Ulysses, but feel that our negativity indicates a certain immaturity in both of us I found her remarks on The Old Wives Tale a bit churlish, and, though they made sense in the context of her fraught relationship with Arnold Bennett, I wish she d gone for humor rather than spite But overall, there is so much intellect and wonderful wordsmithing, and such humor and wit and sauciness I know that I ll come back to it in the future and learn evenAnd maybe learn enough to change my mind about my few qualms.In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn t so much enjoy the first three essays, and almost didn t carry on, but I m glad I did Why didn t I like them I don t know It may have been because I wasn t familiar with the writers she was discussing e.g., the Pastons , although other essays on writers I didn t know at all Montaigne and Margaret Cavendish were wondrously amusing to me It may have been the quotidian content of the Pastons letters, yet Woolf managed to infuse the lives of the similarly quotidian John Evelyn and Archbishop Thomson with zing and an abundance of humor It may be that I don t really understand poetry or drama, so The Elizabethan Lumber Room was kind of lost on me, and that I don t know medieval literature, so that the sentence on Chaucer that I fond striking turned out to be, in Karl s eyes, a dreadfully unsophisticated reading of The Canterbury Tales yet I enjoyed Addison, toward whom I m also unsympathetic So, if you re finding yourself bogged down in the first forty pages, keep going The Duchess of Newcastle is a howler, I promise, and it keeps getting better


  6. Smiley Smiley says:

    3.5 starsReading this notable book of essays didn t disappoint me since I ve long awaited it as well as the second volume instantly placed an order via Kinokuniya Books in Bangkok In fact, I ve already had the 2 paperback Penguin set edited by Rachel Bowlby and, I think, her interesting essays could be regarded as something that supports our further explorations of the works mentioned in her essays therefore, we could browse any one we like as an introduction to the real thing.It s my deligh 3.5 starsReading this notable book of essays didn t disappoint me since I ve long awaited it as well as the second volume instantly placed an order via Kinokuniya Books in Bangkok In fact, I ve already had the 2 paperback Penguin set edited by Rachel Bowlby and, I think, her interesting essays could be regarded as something that supports our further explorations of the works mentioned in her essays therefore, we could browse any one we like as an introduction to the real thing.It s my delight to read her The Common Reader Vol I and thuslight to me why she wrote these scintillating essays and thus adopted such a title It s first topic, THE COMMON READER is miraculously short, that is, only two paragraphs a page and three lines Surprisingly, she told her readers she had adopted it from such a simple phrase in Dr Johnson s Life of Gray She s defined such a reader as the one who is worse educated, and nature has not gifted him so generously He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole a portrait of a man, a sketch of an age, a theory of the art of writing but if he has, as Dr Johnson maintained, some say in the final distribution of poetical honours, then, perhaps, it may be worth while to write down a few of the ideas and opinions which, insignificant in themselves, yet contribute to so mighty a result pp 1 2 Moreover, I can t help wondering why she didn t write anything herself on this great man of letters, critic, essayist and lexicographer and I suspected she might have had her own reason I think nearly all of her 21 essays are worth reading and pondering, however, it depends I mean it depends on your interest, query or motive in terms of your own literary pursuit Therefore, I ll say something on Montaigne Essay 6 since he s long been regarded as who wrote the first essays, in other words, as the new literary genre From her 10 pages and 5 lines, I think we can learn a lot from her exposition and ideas on his life and works For instance, Montaigne suffered a lot physically and mentally while writing his famous, unique and inspiring topics for posterity Moreover, some few sentences from MONTAIGNE may give you some ideas To tell the truth about oneself, to discover oneself near at hand, is not easy p 59 We can never doubt for an instant that his book was himself He refused to teach, he refused to preach he kept saying that he was just like other people All his efffort was to write himself down, to communicate, to tell the truth, and that is a rugged road,than it seems p 59 To communicate is our chief business society and friendship our chief delights and reading, not to acquire knoledge, not to earn a living, but to extend our intercourse beyond our own time and province p 64 You may love Montaigneif you can find some of his fine translated essays, abridged or complete, in some good bookstores Read any topic you like and I think reading Montaigne will inspire your views and applications Enjoy


  7. Ellen Ellen says:

    This was the second time I d read The Common Reader , and when I reread books I always find that they show me new faces Virginia Woolf said the same thing in one of her essays After rereading this one, I have resolved to look at contemporary literature with a different attitude I tend to believe that the writers of the past are better than the writers of today, which is, as William James would have said, Contempt prior to investigation I spend most of my reading time with books written be This was the second time I d read The Common Reader , and when I reread books I always find that they show me new faces Virginia Woolf said the same thing in one of her essays After rereading this one, I have resolved to look at contemporary literature with a different attitude I tend to believe that the writers of the past are better than the writers of today, which is, as William James would have said, Contempt prior to investigation I spend most of my reading time with books written between 1900 1950, reading the classics or the books that have won awards over the decades, and avoid reading much in the way of current bestsellers Perhaps I need to open my mind a bit, right Woolf s prose in this book is lovely, and her evaluations of the books being reviewed are accurate, I think I would agree with most of her assessments of the books I ve read regarding those that I ve not yet read I can t agree or disagree with her I ve found, though, that Woolf generally is an expert reader and reviewer, and that I can trust what she says in nearly all cases.Next is The Common Reader, Volume 2 I know I ll enjoy this one just as much as the first volume


  8. Zachary F. Zachary F. says:

    I rejoice to concur with the common reader for by the common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honoursSamuel Johnson, The Life of GrayTruth, it seems, is various Truth is to be pursued with all our faculties Are we to rule out the amusements, the tendernesses, the frivolities of friendship because we love truth Will truth be quicker found becauseI rejoice to concur with the common reader for by the common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honoursSamuel Johnson, The Life of GrayTruth, it seems, is various Truth is to be pursued with all our faculties Are we to rule out the amusements, the tendernesses, the frivolities of friendship because we love truth Will truth be quicker found because we stop our ears to music and drink no wine, and sleep instead of talking through the long winter s night It is not to the cloistered disciplinarian mortifying himself in solitude that we are to turn, but to the well sunned nature, the man who practises the art of living to the best advantage, so that nothing is stunted but some things are permanentlyvaluable than othersVirginia Woolf, On Not Knowing Greek That first quote serves as the inspiration for this collection of literary essays, and Woolf s stated intention is to approach her material from the perspective of one who reads for her own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others She even goes so far as to suggest that common readers such as herself are worse educated than the critic or scholar and nature has not gifted them so generously I couldn t help snickering a little at this image of Virginia Woolf a lifelong aristocrat who was among the best read and most talented writers of her own or any era as some lowly commoner cobbling together her humble opinions for the pleasure of the other book reading peasants, but I can appreciate her egalitarian intentions, at least It s only fair to mention that Woolf didn t receive a university education, and carried out most of her studies alone in her father s library that, coupled with the fact that she was a woman writing before most British women were allowed even to vote, goes a little way towards explaining her ideas on commonness In reality, this is one of those genteel tomes from a bygone age that assume not only a working knowledge of ancient Greek, Middle English, and modern French, but also athan passing familiarity with the works of every major European writer since Sophocles And I do mean European I can think of only two American authors the wannabe Brits Henry James and T.S Eliot who even earn a name drop, and there are no other non Euros mentioned at all Nor are her interests limited to the major writers Mixed in with the Chaucers and Austens and George Eliots, we also find quite a few pieces dedicated to authors who were obscure even in Woolf s own time She seems to take great pleasure in exhuming long ignored memoirs and biographies and breathing new life however temporarily into personalities now all but forgotten A book doesn t have to be good in order for Woolf to appreciate it, it simply needs to suggest a human presence once she detects that presence, faint and faltering though it may be, her imagination can take it and run.It s this breathing to life that Woolf excels at, and it s because she s so capable that such a culturally narrow and potentially snobbish collection as this is almost always a joy rather than a struggle to read True to her mission statement, Woolf doesn t approach literature in the stilted academic manner of a professional critic, smothering the life out of otherwise fine books with heady talk of themes and theories Rather than subscribing to the death of the author model still so popular in university lit programs today, her primary interest is most often in the authors themselves the infinitely varied assortment of people and personalities who produce great and not so great literature She s not afraid to make bold and sweeping claims, and in fact she seems to revel in them Often she s wrong, as when she asserts that Emily Bront will go down in history as a poet rather than a novelist, or devotes a whole essay to Joseph Conrad without once mentioning Heart of Darkness all the while praising his now largely unread early works as timeless classics , or suggests that her own era which gave us not only Woolf herself, but also James Joyce, T.S Eliot, Marcel Proust, W.B Yeats, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F Scott Fitzgerald, to name just a few is a period of literary drought that will produce no masterpieces Ulysses, she says, is a memorable catastrophe immense in daring, terrific in disaster Butoften she s right, or at least forceful enough in her convictions to persuade us, and it s an exhilarating experience to watch such a master in her elementWuthering Heightsis adifficult book to understand than Jane Eyre , because Emily was a greater poet that Charlotte When Charlotte wrote she said with eloquence and splendour and passion I love , I hate , I suffer Her experience, thoughintense, is on a level with our own But there is no I in Wuthering HeightsThere are no governesses There are no employers There is love, but it is not the love of men and women Emily was inspired by somegeneral conception The impulse which urged her to create was not her own suffering or her own injuries She looked out upon a world cleft into gigantic disorder and felt within her the power to unite it in a book That gigantic ambition is to be felt throughout the novel a struggle, half thwarted but of superb conviction, to say something through the mouths of her characters which is not merely I love or I hate , but we, the whole human race , and you, the eternal powers the sentence remains unfinished It is not strange that it should be so rather it is astonishing that she can make us feel what she had it in her to say at allJane Eyre and Wuthering Heights Nevertheless, and whatever Woolf s intentions in writing it, I don t think many people in the 21st century will be clamoring to read The Common Reader Opening it is a bit like stepping into some vast, ancient library, all mahagony and brown leather, and plucking down at random one after another of the elegantly bound volumes Woolf is the librarian, energetic and clever if also a tad stuffy, guiding us through the corridors and offering her opinions solicited or not on whatever item catches her eye Nonfiction though it may be, it reminded me a little of the stories of Jorge Luis Borges, with all their nonexistent authors and endless literary references and peculiarly supernatural notions about the power of books Readers who are refreshed by a bit of disorientation now and then, or who simply enjoy immersing themselves in the passionate words of someone far smarter and better read than they will ever be, will find a lot to appreciate here Those who don t, won t I happen to be a member of the first group, and I look forward to dipping into volume 2


  9. Helle Helle says:

    We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.I think I may have a minor literary crush on Virginia Woolf She s so damn erudite in absolutely her own, self made style , witty drily and almost unconsciously so , brazen and yet also sometimes so frustratingly elusive.The Common Reader is Woolf s own version of literary history, mainly English, but with a few Greeks and Russians thrown into the pile The common reader , a term first coined by Dr J We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.I think I may have a minor literary crush on Virginia Woolf She s so damn erudite in absolutely her own, self made style , witty drily and almost unconsciously so , brazen and yet also sometimes so frustratingly elusive.The Common Reader is Woolf s own version of literary history, mainly English, but with a few Greeks and Russians thrown into the pile The common reader , a term first coined by Dr Johnson, is not the critic or the scholar but ordinary readers like you and me, although to be honest not many ordinary people are as encyclopedically well read as Woolf 70 years after she died by her own hand, she could still never be called ordinary she merely addresses us common souls.The first three chapters I didn t really care for I read a few Greek authors back in high school and haven t found reason to re read them since, so much of the first three chapters was simply lost on me Then she ventured intofamiliar territory, and I was once again an attentive audience, taking in her peculiar yet apt musings on Austen, Bront , Eliot And then she deliberately moved into obscure corners of English literature that I suspect only the most well read Englishmen with a penchant for long forgotten authors could relate to, and once again I was a little lost, though not uninterested She had no qualms about signing some authors off as unfit for posterity, and amid a sea of fabulous quotes I found the above particularly fabulous One always learns something when reading Virginia Woolf s essays and I enjoy themthan her novels , but it is also clear that this was written many years ago and that even she, as opinionated as she was, would include different names today and perhaps let some of the authors she chose to mention slide further into oblivion


  10. Kelly Kelly says:

    I m marking this as read, which is not the case I read about a hundred pages of it But I m not currently reading it any either I m picking it up now and again and reading an essay I ll finish it at some point this year, but it doesn t seem honest to leave it up there on currently reading And if we bookworms can t be honest on our bookshelves at least, whatever is the world coming to


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10 thoughts on “The Common Reader

  1. Violet wells Violet wells says:

    It s appropriate that my 100th GR review should be a book that attempts to shift literary criticism from the hallowed office into the sitting room as all of us here on Goodreads are the common reader , a voice that in Woolf s day barely existed In the final essay she has a dig at her contemporary professional critics I m presently reading a novel which according to The New York Times Book Review and The Boston Globe is the work of a rare genius the truth though is, as any common reader end It s appropriate that my 100th GR review should be a book that attempts to shift literary criticism from the hallowed office into the sitting room as all of us here on Goodreads are the common reader , a voice that in Woolf s day barely existed In the final essay she has a dig at her contemporary professional critics I m presently reading a novel which according to The New York Times Book Review and The Boston Globe is the work of a rare genius the truth though is, as any common reader endowed with a functioning critical faculty would no doubt agree, that it s simply a very ordinary novel with no distinguishing virtue So can we trust professional critics now anythan we can trust marketing departments to give us an honest assessment of the worth of a book The answer, of course, is no To a far greater extent we can trust our fellow readers here One of the overriding impressions here is that Woolf is muchgenerous and kind in her criticism than in her praise My favourite essays were those on obscure writers of memoirs None of these clearly had much literary merit and yet with what delight and affection she read them and how brilliantly she brought before our eyes the eccentricities of their authors These were the ones that made me laugh out loud That gave me a vivid sense of Virginia Woolf s conversation at a dinner table I ve always imagined Woolf to be like a female Byron in conversation, witty, yes, a bit snotty but also expansive and ultimately self effacing Because of this it has always annoyed me that she is invariably portrayed on screen as some kind of mawkish, gibbering bag woman as was the case in the recent BBC Bloomsbury drama and in Nicole Kidman s interpretation of her in the film of The Hours On the other hand she tends to be a little mean and begrudging in her praise She can write about Joyce Mr Joyce is spiritual he is concerned at all costs to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes its messages through the brain, and in order to preserve it he disregards with complete courage whatever seems to him adventitious, whether it be probability, or coherence, or any other of these signposts which for generations have served to support the imagination of a reader when called upon to imagine what he can neither touch or see Only to later dismiss Ulysses as a memorable catastrophe Lawrence gets similar treatment And the chapter on Emily Bronte is probably the most uninspired It was her belief that Emily Bronte s poems would outlive her novel Wuthering Heights however can be found on every list of the greatest novels ever written, something not true of Conrad s early work which Woolf, unusually, praises without reservations So even Woolf wasn t foolproof in her assessments There s also a sense of how competitive she is with both contemporaries and other women a major factor in her friendship with Katherine Mansfield There s her famous comment about Middlemarch but then she will help us understand why it s not as grown up as War and Peace where every relationship is so muchfinely tuned and the imaginative reach of Tolstoy excels anything Eliot is capable of She remarks that Eliot s heroines talk too much and comments on the fumbling which shook Eliot s hand when she had to conceive a fit mate for her heroines And I remembered how Dorothea s relationship with Ladislaw, written perhaps with all critical faculties in abeyance, borders on being the kind of young girl s wish fulfilment liaison we expect from formulaic romantic fiction Above all else, reading this helped me understand the nature of the imperatives behind what Woolf wanted to achieve in her own work

  2. Michael Michael says:

    A far cry from her wistful and introspective fiction, Woolf s essays on literature read as lively, droll, and conversational These essays focus on famous literary figures as well as the craft of fiction written in confident but inviting prose designed specifically for what Woolf called the common reader, they interweave biography, wit, social commentary, and literary analysis Woolf typically seems disinterested in offering definitive arguments or reaching grand conclusions She instead concer A far cry from her wistful and introspective fiction, Woolf s essays on literature read as lively, droll, and conversational These essays focus on famous literary figures as well as the craft of fiction written in confident but inviting prose designed specifically for what Woolf called the common reader, they interweave biography, wit, social commentary, and literary analysis Woolf typically seems disinterested in offering definitive arguments or reaching grand conclusions She instead concerns herself with viewing a given writer or topic from several interpretive angles so that she might reveal as much about her subject as she can in a single essay, to a broad audience consisting of non academic readers Favorite essays included Notes on an Elizabethan Play, Modern Fiction, Outlines, and How it Strikes a Contemporary

  3. Rakhi Dalal Rakhi Dalal says:

    The first thing that occurs to you while reading Virginia s essays is that they are not laced with academic, high brow language and style In fact, her writing is so accessible that it easily seems to mirror a common reader s thoughts and expressions While writing these essays, nearly twenty five of them in this collection, Virginia offers a glimpse into her mind and it becomes clear how she manages to write so lucidly yet so unassumingly She writes as she knows the reader will enjoy reading The first thing that occurs to you while reading Virginia s essays is that they are not laced with academic, high brow language and style In fact, her writing is so accessible that it easily seems to mirror a common reader s thoughts and expressions While writing these essays, nearly twenty five of them in this collection, Virginia offers a glimpse into her mind and it becomes clear how she manages to write so lucidly yet so unassumingly She writes as she knows the reader will enjoy reading And it goes without saying for both her novels and essays, though if I may add it is her essays which demonstrate her skill as a writereffectively In this collection, most of the essays are memoirs of people both well known like Chaucer, Jane Austen, Defoe, Montaigne, Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad as well as relatively lesser knowns like Edgeworth, Pilkington, Ms Mitford, Bentley and a fewWe also have some well known essays like Modern Fiction , The Modern Essay and How it strikes a Contemporary in this beautiful collection Woolf s words, quite naturally, turn from being sincere and open to joyously humorous and sensibly satirical, as and when her thoughts demand, so that there is never a dull moment when we read her As a matter of fact, her words come out so effortlessly that the essays seem to be written over in single sittings each, perhaps without any editing being ever done.I am quoting here some of the quotes which I loved in this collection, and I recommend a reading of this volume to the readers who enjoy Woolf s writing as well as to the aspiring writers who find themselves struggling between the glorious past of literature and the mayhem which seems to be spreading over the present or the future of contemporary writings From The Pastons and Chaucer It is safe to say that not a single law has been framed or one stone set upon another because of anything that Chaucer said or wrote and yet, as we read him, we are absorbing morality at every pore.From The Elizabethan Lumber Room We carry with us the wonders we seek without us there is all Africa and her prodigies in us.From Montaigne For beyond the difficulty of communicating oneself, there is the supreme difficulty of being oneself This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us If one has to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say Other people, for instance, long ago made up their minds that old invalidish gentleman ought to stay at home and edify the rest of us by the spectacle of their connubial fidelity The soul of Montaigne said, on the contrary, that it is in the old age that one ought to travel, and marriage, which rightly, is very seldom founded on love, is apt to become, towards the end of life, a formal tie better broken up.From Modern Fiction Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged life is a luminous halo, a semi transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.Contrary to her troubled mind, her writing is, strangely, quite optimistic towards life

  4. Anna Luce Anna Luce says:

    4 starsThroughout the course of my undergraduate degree I consistently and persistently avoided Virginia Woolf s body of work as on the best of days I have little patience for stream of consciousness especially of the Joycean variety and modernist literature When my lecturers mentioned Woolf they always seemed to confirm my impression of her being a pretentious snob so I didn t feel particularly inclined to pick up her impenetrably introspective novels.As of late, I ve been wanting to r 4 starsThroughout the course of my undergraduate degree I consistently and persistently avoided Virginia Woolf s body of work as on the best of days I have little patience for stream of consciousness especially of the Joycean variety and modernist literature When my lecturers mentioned Woolf they always seemed to confirm my impression of her being a pretentious snob so I didn t feel particularly inclined to pick up her impenetrably introspective novels.As of late, I ve been wanting to readessays and, for some reason or other, I ended up reading Woolf s The Common Readerand I m glad I did Yes, her worldview betrays a certain elitism but given her time period I don t feel particularly slighted by her notion of common reader or by the way in which she refers to cultures outside of Britain once again Italians are referred to as a vaguely uncivilised Southern race Woolf s essays are faraccessible than I d imagined them to be Unlike her fiction, here Woolf s prose does not stray into the obscure, and needlessly confounding, territories of the English language Here her lexicon is not only crystal clear but simply captivating She writes with such eloquence and vitality, demonstrating her extensive knowledge of her subjects without giving herself airs In fact, these essays never seem to reveal Woolf s presence as she does not write as an I but as a we While in clumsier hands I would have found the we to be patronising, Woolf s essays are anything but She includes us with ease, making us feel as if we were active participants in her analysis Her subjects too are not passive figures easily relegated to the past Her evocative descriptions have an immediacy that makes us momentarily forget that these authors are long dead Woolf does not waste time in recounting the entire careers and lives of her biographees With a few carefully articulated phrases she hones in on the essence of these writers and their work Woolf whisks away by asking us to imagine alongside her these authors in their everyday lives, by speaking of their household, their country, and their world, with such familiarity as to convince us that she knew each one of them.Her essays certainly demonstrate a wealth of knowledge Woolf creates a myriad of connections, drawing upon history and philosophy in an engaging and enlightening manner Certain historical facts went over my head, but that is probably due to my non British schooling Nevertheless, even when I wasn t sure of whom she was writing about or the significance of one of her references, I still felt very much involved by what I was reading Woolf s examination of the interplay between critics, readers, and writers becomes the central leitmotif of this collection Time and again Woolf interrogates the way in which a writer is influenced by their readers and critics, and of the way in which this knowledge of a future readership shapes their writing Woolf surveys different types of authors fiction such as Daniel Defoe, Joseph Conrad, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte and Emily Bront , essayists such as Montaigne , poets, playwrights, and those historical figures who escape definition such as the incomparable Margaret Cavendish In On not knowing Greek and The Russian Point of View Woolf turns to language and translation while in Modern Fiction , The Modern Essay , How it Strikes a Contemporary , and How Should One Read a Book she considers the many faces of writing and the differences between classic and contemporary fiction authors Even in those instances in which our interpretations differed, I recognised that her arguments were informative and persuasive It is perhaps Woolf s dialogic wit that makes her suppositions all thecompelling.More impressive still is Woolf s description of one of my least favourite literary styles in her much quoted essay titled Modern Fiction Here her authorial presence isfelt as she expresses a wish to read fiction that reflects the continuous and incongruous flow of our thoughts.I thoroughly recommend this to bibliophiles of all sorts Whether you consider yourself a common reader or not Woolf s essays have a lot to offer.Readreviews on my blog View all my reviews on Goodreads

  5. Alison Alison says:

    By turns delightful, instructive, and illuminating I don t think I ve done so much simultaneous marking and laughing aloud since school One of the great pleasures was in learning about writers I knew nothing about, from the famous ones to the totally obscure Woolf could summarize like nobody s business she delighted in making long semi coloned lists of absurdities as I believe she remarked of some other writer in the collection she could distill a writer s entire oeuvre into a few short, By turns delightful, instructive, and illuminating I don t think I ve done so much simultaneous marking and laughing aloud since school One of the great pleasures was in learning about writers I knew nothing about, from the famous ones to the totally obscure Woolf could summarize like nobody s business she delighted in making long semi coloned lists of absurdities as I believe she remarked of some other writer in the collection she could distill a writer s entire oeuvre into a few short, sharp, enviable words, yet, when the writer s worth reading, Woolf s remarks only invite the reader to explore the workthoroughly they re an invitation, rather than a closure On the other hand, she could also damn with faint praise, as in Miss Mitford Another great pleasure was in the conversation about writers I knew a great deal about, so that I rejoiced in every insightful compliment to Jane Austen s and Emily Bronte s genius, and to the experience of reading the very flawed but utterly ravishing Jane Eyre which, if I were honest, I d acknowledge as Number One Favorite for me, knocking out To the Lighthouse and Lolita There was rarely a moment when I didn t find the book inspirational She made me think about things I hadn t, but should have, noted in Chekhov and Dostoevsky she could talk The Writer s Life with freshness and insight she made me ashamed of my lack of generosity and hard work as a reader And, I was struck by the conversation even in those rare moments where I disagreed with her I m not sure I found her discussion of Heart of Darkness seaworthy I found her analysis of Dorothea in Middlemarch ridiculous, in a way that should have been kind of personally embarrassing to Woolf herself I both agree and disagree with her attitude toward Ulysses, but feel that our negativity indicates a certain immaturity in both of us I found her remarks on The Old Wives Tale a bit churlish, and, though they made sense in the context of her fraught relationship with Arnold Bennett, I wish she d gone for humor rather than spite But overall, there is so much intellect and wonderful wordsmithing, and such humor and wit and sauciness I know that I ll come back to it in the future and learn evenAnd maybe learn enough to change my mind about my few qualms.In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn t so much enjoy the first three essays, and almost didn t carry on, but I m glad I did Why didn t I like them I don t know It may have been because I wasn t familiar with the writers she was discussing e.g., the Pastons , although other essays on writers I didn t know at all Montaigne and Margaret Cavendish were wondrously amusing to me It may have been the quotidian content of the Pastons letters, yet Woolf managed to infuse the lives of the similarly quotidian John Evelyn and Archbishop Thomson with zing and an abundance of humor It may be that I don t really understand poetry or drama, so The Elizabethan Lumber Room was kind of lost on me, and that I don t know medieval literature, so that the sentence on Chaucer that I fond striking turned out to be, in Karl s eyes, a dreadfully unsophisticated reading of The Canterbury Tales yet I enjoyed Addison, toward whom I m also unsympathetic So, if you re finding yourself bogged down in the first forty pages, keep going The Duchess of Newcastle is a howler, I promise, and it keeps getting better

  6. Smiley Smiley says:

    3.5 starsReading this notable book of essays didn t disappoint me since I ve long awaited it as well as the second volume instantly placed an order via Kinokuniya Books in Bangkok In fact, I ve already had the 2 paperback Penguin set edited by Rachel Bowlby and, I think, her interesting essays could be regarded as something that supports our further explorations of the works mentioned in her essays therefore, we could browse any one we like as an introduction to the real thing.It s my deligh 3.5 starsReading this notable book of essays didn t disappoint me since I ve long awaited it as well as the second volume instantly placed an order via Kinokuniya Books in Bangkok In fact, I ve already had the 2 paperback Penguin set edited by Rachel Bowlby and, I think, her interesting essays could be regarded as something that supports our further explorations of the works mentioned in her essays therefore, we could browse any one we like as an introduction to the real thing.It s my delight to read her The Common Reader Vol I and thuslight to me why she wrote these scintillating essays and thus adopted such a title It s first topic, THE COMMON READER is miraculously short, that is, only two paragraphs a page and three lines Surprisingly, she told her readers she had adopted it from such a simple phrase in Dr Johnson s Life of Gray She s defined such a reader as the one who is worse educated, and nature has not gifted him so generously He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole a portrait of a man, a sketch of an age, a theory of the art of writing but if he has, as Dr Johnson maintained, some say in the final distribution of poetical honours, then, perhaps, it may be worth while to write down a few of the ideas and opinions which, insignificant in themselves, yet contribute to so mighty a result pp 1 2 Moreover, I can t help wondering why she didn t write anything herself on this great man of letters, critic, essayist and lexicographer and I suspected she might have had her own reason I think nearly all of her 21 essays are worth reading and pondering, however, it depends I mean it depends on your interest, query or motive in terms of your own literary pursuit Therefore, I ll say something on Montaigne Essay 6 since he s long been regarded as who wrote the first essays, in other words, as the new literary genre From her 10 pages and 5 lines, I think we can learn a lot from her exposition and ideas on his life and works For instance, Montaigne suffered a lot physically and mentally while writing his famous, unique and inspiring topics for posterity Moreover, some few sentences from MONTAIGNE may give you some ideas To tell the truth about oneself, to discover oneself near at hand, is not easy p 59 We can never doubt for an instant that his book was himself He refused to teach, he refused to preach he kept saying that he was just like other people All his efffort was to write himself down, to communicate, to tell the truth, and that is a rugged road,than it seems p 59 To communicate is our chief business society and friendship our chief delights and reading, not to acquire knoledge, not to earn a living, but to extend our intercourse beyond our own time and province p 64 You may love Montaigneif you can find some of his fine translated essays, abridged or complete, in some good bookstores Read any topic you like and I think reading Montaigne will inspire your views and applications Enjoy

  7. Ellen Ellen says:

    This was the second time I d read The Common Reader , and when I reread books I always find that they show me new faces Virginia Woolf said the same thing in one of her essays After rereading this one, I have resolved to look at contemporary literature with a different attitude I tend to believe that the writers of the past are better than the writers of today, which is, as William James would have said, Contempt prior to investigation I spend most of my reading time with books written be This was the second time I d read The Common Reader , and when I reread books I always find that they show me new faces Virginia Woolf said the same thing in one of her essays After rereading this one, I have resolved to look at contemporary literature with a different attitude I tend to believe that the writers of the past are better than the writers of today, which is, as William James would have said, Contempt prior to investigation I spend most of my reading time with books written between 1900 1950, reading the classics or the books that have won awards over the decades, and avoid reading much in the way of current bestsellers Perhaps I need to open my mind a bit, right Woolf s prose in this book is lovely, and her evaluations of the books being reviewed are accurate, I think I would agree with most of her assessments of the books I ve read regarding those that I ve not yet read I can t agree or disagree with her I ve found, though, that Woolf generally is an expert reader and reviewer, and that I can trust what she says in nearly all cases.Next is The Common Reader, Volume 2 I know I ll enjoy this one just as much as the first volume

  8. Zachary F. Zachary F. says:

    I rejoice to concur with the common reader for by the common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honoursSamuel Johnson, The Life of GrayTruth, it seems, is various Truth is to be pursued with all our faculties Are we to rule out the amusements, the tendernesses, the frivolities of friendship because we love truth Will truth be quicker found becauseI rejoice to concur with the common reader for by the common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honoursSamuel Johnson, The Life of GrayTruth, it seems, is various Truth is to be pursued with all our faculties Are we to rule out the amusements, the tendernesses, the frivolities of friendship because we love truth Will truth be quicker found because we stop our ears to music and drink no wine, and sleep instead of talking through the long winter s night It is not to the cloistered disciplinarian mortifying himself in solitude that we are to turn, but to the well sunned nature, the man who practises the art of living to the best advantage, so that nothing is stunted but some things are permanentlyvaluable than othersVirginia Woolf, On Not Knowing Greek That first quote serves as the inspiration for this collection of literary essays, and Woolf s stated intention is to approach her material from the perspective of one who reads for her own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others She even goes so far as to suggest that common readers such as herself are worse educated than the critic or scholar and nature has not gifted them so generously I couldn t help snickering a little at this image of Virginia Woolf a lifelong aristocrat who was among the best read and most talented writers of her own or any era as some lowly commoner cobbling together her humble opinions for the pleasure of the other book reading peasants, but I can appreciate her egalitarian intentions, at least It s only fair to mention that Woolf didn t receive a university education, and carried out most of her studies alone in her father s library that, coupled with the fact that she was a woman writing before most British women were allowed even to vote, goes a little way towards explaining her ideas on commonness In reality, this is one of those genteel tomes from a bygone age that assume not only a working knowledge of ancient Greek, Middle English, and modern French, but also athan passing familiarity with the works of every major European writer since Sophocles And I do mean European I can think of only two American authors the wannabe Brits Henry James and T.S Eliot who even earn a name drop, and there are no other non Euros mentioned at all Nor are her interests limited to the major writers Mixed in with the Chaucers and Austens and George Eliots, we also find quite a few pieces dedicated to authors who were obscure even in Woolf s own time She seems to take great pleasure in exhuming long ignored memoirs and biographies and breathing new life however temporarily into personalities now all but forgotten A book doesn t have to be good in order for Woolf to appreciate it, it simply needs to suggest a human presence once she detects that presence, faint and faltering though it may be, her imagination can take it and run.It s this breathing to life that Woolf excels at, and it s because she s so capable that such a culturally narrow and potentially snobbish collection as this is almost always a joy rather than a struggle to read True to her mission statement, Woolf doesn t approach literature in the stilted academic manner of a professional critic, smothering the life out of otherwise fine books with heady talk of themes and theories Rather than subscribing to the death of the author model still so popular in university lit programs today, her primary interest is most often in the authors themselves the infinitely varied assortment of people and personalities who produce great and not so great literature She s not afraid to make bold and sweeping claims, and in fact she seems to revel in them Often she s wrong, as when she asserts that Emily Bront will go down in history as a poet rather than a novelist, or devotes a whole essay to Joseph Conrad without once mentioning Heart of Darkness all the while praising his now largely unread early works as timeless classics , or suggests that her own era which gave us not only Woolf herself, but also James Joyce, T.S Eliot, Marcel Proust, W.B Yeats, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F Scott Fitzgerald, to name just a few is a period of literary drought that will produce no masterpieces Ulysses, she says, is a memorable catastrophe immense in daring, terrific in disaster Butoften she s right, or at least forceful enough in her convictions to persuade us, and it s an exhilarating experience to watch such a master in her elementWuthering Heightsis adifficult book to understand than Jane Eyre , because Emily was a greater poet that Charlotte When Charlotte wrote she said with eloquence and splendour and passion I love , I hate , I suffer Her experience, thoughintense, is on a level with our own But there is no I in Wuthering HeightsThere are no governesses There are no employers There is love, but it is not the love of men and women Emily was inspired by somegeneral conception The impulse which urged her to create was not her own suffering or her own injuries She looked out upon a world cleft into gigantic disorder and felt within her the power to unite it in a book That gigantic ambition is to be felt throughout the novel a struggle, half thwarted but of superb conviction, to say something through the mouths of her characters which is not merely I love or I hate , but we, the whole human race , and you, the eternal powers the sentence remains unfinished It is not strange that it should be so rather it is astonishing that she can make us feel what she had it in her to say at allJane Eyre and Wuthering Heights Nevertheless, and whatever Woolf s intentions in writing it, I don t think many people in the 21st century will be clamoring to read The Common Reader Opening it is a bit like stepping into some vast, ancient library, all mahagony and brown leather, and plucking down at random one after another of the elegantly bound volumes Woolf is the librarian, energetic and clever if also a tad stuffy, guiding us through the corridors and offering her opinions solicited or not on whatever item catches her eye Nonfiction though it may be, it reminded me a little of the stories of Jorge Luis Borges, with all their nonexistent authors and endless literary references and peculiarly supernatural notions about the power of books Readers who are refreshed by a bit of disorientation now and then, or who simply enjoy immersing themselves in the passionate words of someone far smarter and better read than they will ever be, will find a lot to appreciate here Those who don t, won t I happen to be a member of the first group, and I look forward to dipping into volume 2

  9. Helle Helle says:

    We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.I think I may have a minor literary crush on Virginia Woolf She s so damn erudite in absolutely her own, self made style , witty drily and almost unconsciously so , brazen and yet also sometimes so frustratingly elusive.The Common Reader is Woolf s own version of literary history, mainly English, but with a few Greeks and Russians thrown into the pile The common reader , a term first coined by Dr J We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.I think I may have a minor literary crush on Virginia Woolf She s so damn erudite in absolutely her own, self made style , witty drily and almost unconsciously so , brazen and yet also sometimes so frustratingly elusive.The Common Reader is Woolf s own version of literary history, mainly English, but with a few Greeks and Russians thrown into the pile The common reader , a term first coined by Dr Johnson, is not the critic or the scholar but ordinary readers like you and me, although to be honest not many ordinary people are as encyclopedically well read as Woolf 70 years after she died by her own hand, she could still never be called ordinary she merely addresses us common souls.The first three chapters I didn t really care for I read a few Greek authors back in high school and haven t found reason to re read them since, so much of the first three chapters was simply lost on me Then she ventured intofamiliar territory, and I was once again an attentive audience, taking in her peculiar yet apt musings on Austen, Bront , Eliot And then she deliberately moved into obscure corners of English literature that I suspect only the most well read Englishmen with a penchant for long forgotten authors could relate to, and once again I was a little lost, though not uninterested She had no qualms about signing some authors off as unfit for posterity, and amid a sea of fabulous quotes I found the above particularly fabulous One always learns something when reading Virginia Woolf s essays and I enjoy themthan her novels , but it is also clear that this was written many years ago and that even she, as opinionated as she was, would include different names today and perhaps let some of the authors she chose to mention slide further into oblivion

  10. Kelly Kelly says:

    I m marking this as read, which is not the case I read about a hundred pages of it But I m not currently reading it any either I m picking it up now and again and reading an essay I ll finish it at some point this year, but it doesn t seem honest to leave it up there on currently reading And if we bookworms can t be honest on our bookshelves at least, whatever is the world coming to

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