The Virginia Woolf Reading Group discussion

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The Years > January's book! The Years

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Here is January's book. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are all excited for another book addition to our reading group! Enjoy


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm really looking forward to diving into this. I think it is interesting that this is the only of Woolf's books to be a bestseller in America (the money from which she used to buy her and Leonard a car).


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

No, I haven't, but after reading the introduction I am rather intrigued to. I have read Three Guineas, which is often spoken of as a version of those essays.

If you have read 'The Pargiters,' what did you think of it?


message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 10, 2009 11:43AM) (new)

I think it's interesting that there does indeed, as you point out, seem to be this dichotomy of Woolf as novelist, and therefore "non-political." I know I must of course have a slanted view, because my introduction to Woolf was reading "A Room of One's Own" in high school English. So Woolf as novelist came to me after I saw Woolf as erudite socio-political thinker.

I spent this week reading the introduction to the annotated edition of The Years. I was struck immediately by more dichotomies, this time in Woolf's own vision. The notion of fact as necessarily pitted against fiction, her idea of the granite and rainbow, reason as masculine vs. imagination as feminine. Furthermore, while Eleanor McNees, who wrote the introduction, does not continue this line of thought, though to my mind it does seem that if Woolf believed in this reason vs. imagination binary, then The Years seems to illustrate that imagination won with Woolf (in the case of The Years), that in effect she is decidedly more feminine than she may wish. Especially if we consider her original plans for "The Years" as fiction intercut with non-fiction, and therefore an almost androgynous melding of styles to match her androgynous vision.

A couple of other things I found interesting in the introduction: First, Leonard Woolf's reaction to The Years. Woolf records in her diary that he enjoyed the book immensely, and even told her that he liked it better than "The Waves," Leonard then recounts in his book which followed her death, that he was both relieved that it was not as bad as Virginia thought it was, but that he felt it was too long and not as good as some of her other novels...he mentions in particular The Waves, Mrs. Dalloway, and To The Lighthouse. Following Leonard's review as he offered it to Virginia herself, she was revitalized enough to continue the tedious work of editing it and seeing it to publication, despite her initial feelings that the book was a failure. Despite her notion of the book as a failure, and indeed, if she had intended it to be a balance between fact and fiction "materialist" (or factual) writing and "spiritualist" (her usual internal monologue fiction), between fiction and essay, than it seems she failed at her original task as she gave up that vision for what the novel seemed to call for itself. Without having read the novel yet, I can't comment on it as a failure, but it seems that Leonard's lie helped her to complete it, and I find that interesting, this idea of an almost necessary lie.

Furthermore, as I am technically reading "War and Peace" right now (I've momentarily taken a break, it seems) I was interested immediately when one critic compares the two as being similar in that the books both lack story and continuity. Why then is War and Peace so important? And why then, did The Years end up selling so well? I am excited to learn the answers to these questions as I read on.

Following reading this book, I would indeed be interested in reading "The Pargiters."

If anyone else has read the introduction, thoughts?


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

That sounds good! I'm excited for the discussion.

Here is the edition I'm reading:

The Years (Annotated) by Virginia Woolf
The Years


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Do we need to keep this book going through February??? No one seems to be involved in the discussions. Has everyone finished the book?


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I haven't finished it yet, and I just now saw the discussion questions. I would love to keep it going through February!


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

ha ha ha! I agree! It's very possible that people haven't gotten through the book yet! Let's make this February's book as well!


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