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The Second Common Reader

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Here, in twenty-six essays, Woolf writes of English literature in its various forms, including the poetry of Donne; the novels of Defoe, Sterne, Meredith, and Hardy; Lord Chesterfield’s letters and De Quincey’s autobiography. She writes, too, about the life and art of women. Edited and with an Introduction by Andrew McNeillie; Index.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1932)
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Last year I came across The Common Reader Vol. I at a Kinokuniya Bookstore in Bangkok and ordered Vol. II immediately. In fact, these famed two volumes have been published in various editions since 1932 and I've tried to buy them for a long time. Enticed by the simple title, I've since decided to read them all as soon as I can own them. I think her "How Should One Read a Book?" is definitely worth reading and applying into our reading since we can learn a lot from its 13 pages and, definitely, f ...more
An ideal critic, humane and intimate reader. I like that these essays read like a lifelong reading journal; we get the moody responsiveness, the tactility of encounter. This book immediately conjures Virginia Stephen, the young girl educating herself in her father's library.
In her second tour de force in literary criticism, Woolf's collection of book reviews and essays upon authors and their failures and successes astounds the reader with her perceptive and sensitive reading of books and clear understanding of authors' personalities, ambitions, and histories. Each essay is moving in its own way, and as I read through the book I sometimes felt overwhelmed by Woolf's phrasing and poetic style. I could go on for pages, citing incidences of essays that moved me to tear ...more
Michael Graaf
I haven't been reading a lot of essays recently, and typically what I would read in that vein these days are more the longer form newspaper or magazine articles that usually look at contemporary events and topics. The closest to The Common Readers in what I usually read would be the essays in the London Review of Books, my subscription to which I let lapse primarily due to a lack of time. However, reading the essays in particular in Volume II has sparked a renewed interest for me in that form of ...more
David Gross
I hadn't read any Virginia Woolf until earlier this year, when I enjoyed The Lighthouse. That encouraged me to pick up this paperback at a library booksale. One of the things that I found very attractive about The Lighthouse also applies to this book of critical essays: even when Woolf does not like a character (or an author), she cares about him or her and tries to faithfully and patiently carve for herself the mask that character (or author) looks through to see and make sense of the world, th ...more
The title is self-explanatory. Not as engaging as the first volume. Three favorite essays from this book are "Aurora Leigh", a complete, not to say exhaustive, treatment of Elizabeth Browning's poem; "The Novels of Thomas Hardy", and "How Should One Read a Book?"
An interesting technique employed here: a book or the work of a particular author will be presented in a distinctly negative way, with appropriate evidence. Ms. Woolf then will reverse her position totally, and point out precisely why t
Sherwood Smith
Here's the thing about Woolf. Even if you disagree with her (as I do over Chesterfield, for example), you can hold a mental conversation with her, and you sense that she will listen sympathetically. She's rarely snide, and never petty in these essays; she doesn't always have all the facts, and sometimes betrays the limitations of her time, but who doesn't?

One essay over breakfast is a wonderful way to begin the day.
Brilliant and amazing book. I only read the second part but I can't wait to read the first. I found the chapter on 'how to read a book?' my favorite!!! I found that this book has on of the best last paragraphs I have ever read, I was so disappointed when I finished the book. My respect for Virginia Woolf has risen even more so.
This time, my favorites were the essays on Arcadia and on Fanny Burney. Woolf brilliant captures the mingled fascination and dismay of picking up Sidney's hefty, intricate, and purpley-prosed romance. The Burney essay sympathetically highlight's Burney's inventive love of words, and the last anecdote reads like a short story.
A collection of excellent, relatively short essays on various literary topics by Virginia Woolf. I'm surprised I haven't heard as much about Woolf's essays, because they're all pretty great. My personal favorites were her anaylsis of Thomas Hardy's novels, and her answer to the question, "Why read a book?"
incipit mania

È molto divertente immaginare di poter tornare indietro ...
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  • Axel's Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930
  • Lectures on Literature
  • The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism
  • Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury
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  • Virginia Woolf
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  • In Front of Your Nose: 1945-1950 (The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters, Vol. 4)
  • The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995
  • Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations
  • Five Faces of Modernity
  • Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays
  • The Art of the Novel
  • Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life
  • A Literature Of Their Own: British Women Novelists From Brontë To Lessing
  • The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry
  • Selected Writings
(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length es
More about Virginia Woolf...
Mrs. Dalloway To the Lighthouse A Room of One's Own Orlando The Waves

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“The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. If this is agreed between us, then I feel at liberty to put forward a few ideas and suggestions because you will not allow them to fetter that independence which is the most important quality that a reader can possess. After all, what laws can be laid down about books? The battle of Waterloo was certainly fought on a certain day; but is Hamlet a better play than Lear? Nobody can say. Each must decide that question for himself. To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions-there we have none.” 68 likes
“Few people ask from books what books can give us. Most commonly we come to books with blurred and divided minds, asking of fiction that it shall be true, of poetry that it shall be false, of biography that it shall be flattering, of history that it shall enforce our own prejudices. If we could banish all such preconceptions when we read, that would be an admirable beginning.” 50 likes
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