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Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Life

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  154 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
This "original, intuitive, and even exciting" (The New Yorker) portrait highlights the experiences that shaped Virginia Woolf's life and arther childhood, her relationships with her father and sister, her marriage, and her descents into madness. Black-and-white photographs. ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published January 1st 1986 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1984)
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Ben
Mar 05, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
In writing this biography Lyndall Gordon chooses to follow Virginia Woolf’s own premise that a person’s life is shaped by essentially private moments of inspiration and humiliation rather than external events. Gordon seeks to understand Woolf more through her fiction than her social persona which she claims was in many ways stagecrafted, a pose of offhand verbal banter very much of its time. She thus debunks the somewhat patronising distorting notion that Woolf was frigid and a lesbian – both as ...more
Juliet
Nov 09, 2014 Juliet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I didn't come here to write my heart out,
I came to write it in."
This quote comes to mind while reading this biography on the wonderful human that is Virginia Woolf.
While most people who know of her work respect the beauty of her conscious prose know that Virginia was constantly pouring herself into her writing and undeniably gifted at doing so, I don't think the extent to which she needed to write was ever completely understood by her readers.
I understand that all writers are drawn to write bec
...more
London Literary
Aug 05, 2011 London Literary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
"We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them. " --T.S. Eliot
I have read multiple Woolf biographies and as they are informed by her exquisite writing, I have found each to be illuminating. Gordon's work is a careful weave of her life and her writing--and I think is very effective in revealing both. Some bios on Woolf have focused on her tragedy- Gordon has a way of writing that focuses on her energy and brilliance. I also appreciate how he understand her precarious historic
...more
Matt
May 22, 2014 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In reading this luminous biography of Virginia Woolf, one learns much about the extraordinary interplay between her life and her work, which, by and large are the same thing. One might say there are actually two biographies here, one of Mrs. Woolf and the other of her work. The beauty of the book is that it discusses in great and finely researched detail the beautiful subtlety of this interplay and the incredible artistry of Mrs. Woolf in her ability to use it to bring her works into being.
This
...more
Catherine
Feb 23, 2014 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot about Woolf, and this book is light on the 'biography' aspect, but very good on Woolf as a writer. I really enjoyed Gordon's detailed look at Woolf's books, particularly The Waves and To the Lighthouse, and her take on Woolf's creative process.

I was frustrated by some things - her blatant dismissal of Woolf's relationship with Vita Sackville West, and other women as lacking depth, and her (I think) overemphasis on her relationship with Leonard Woolf among them.

In spite of this
...more
Kait
Aug 01, 2007 Kait rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die-hards
This was an okay book. It's basically deconstructing V. Woolf's biography in light of the novels she wrote. While it's interesting, I always judge a book harshly if 30 pages from the end, I still don't care. There were moments when I was compelled to read further, but the section on the Waves felt like a watered-down version of the lecture I attended on it in college with a few biographical flourishes that were neither enlightening nor all that compelling.

All the book made me do was wish I was
...more
Oscar
Feb 16, 2015 Oscar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of an attempt to understand Woolf through her writing than a conventional timeline biography. Gordon’s insights often enriched my understanding of Woolf’s novels. I especially enjoyed the chapter on The Waves. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone interested in Woolf the writer.
Laura
Jun 07, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is great for its discussion of Woolf's novels, but as a biography, we get only a vague picture of VW's life.
Diane Blodgett
This was a very scholarly book and difficult to read. Though despite that, I found it quite interesting.
Laura
Aug 15, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Interesting look at Virginia Woolf's life and into biography as art.
Linda
Apr 03, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Small but engrossing bio of the author.
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing book cover 6 15 Nov 07, 2014 05:58AM  
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Lyndall Gordon (born 4 November 1941) is a British-based writer and academic, known for her literary biographies. She is a Senior Research Fellow at St Hilda's College, Oxford.

Born in Cape Town, she was an undergraduate at the University of Cape Town, then a doctoral student at Columbia University in New York City. She married the pathologist Siamon Gordon; they have two daughters.

Gordon is the au
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