A Study Of Virginia Woolf

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A Study Of Virginia Woolf’s Life Reflection In Her Work Essay, Research Paper Patton 1 Josh Patton Mrs. Theresa R. Coco College Prep English 12 8 March, 2000 “Virginia Woolf – A Life of Struggle and Affliction” The literary critic Queenie Leavis, who had been born into the British lower middle class and reared three children while writing and editing and teaching, thought Virginia Woolf a preposterous representative of real women’s lives: “There is no reason to suppose Mrs. Woolf would know which end of the cradle to stir.” Yet no one was more aware of the price of unworldliness than Virginia Woolf. Her imaginative voyages into the waveringly lighted depths of “Mrs. Dalloway” and “To the Lighthouse” were partly owed to a freedom from the literal daily

need of voyaging out – to the shop or the office or even the nursery. Her husband, Leonard Woolf, believed that without the aid of her inheritance his wife would probably not have written a novel at all. For money guaranteed not just time but intellectual liberty. “I’m the only woman in England free to write what I like,” she exulted in her diary in 1925, after the publication of “Mrs. Dalloway” by the Hogarth Press, which she and Leonard had set up to free her from the demands of publishers and editors. What she liked to write turned out to be, of course, books that gave voice to much that had gone unheard in the previous history of writing things down: the dartings and weavings of the human mind in the fleet elaborations of thought itself (Malcomi, 4). “Mrs.

Dalloway” is a finespun tribute to the complexities of social interaction on a single day in London in 1923, ending with a shallow society hostess’s glittering party; it is also one of the Patton 2 written about the effects of World War I. Virginia Woolf was not without politics or fierce worldly concerns (4-5). The diaries and letters spanning both world wars are filled with bulletins arguments, terrors of distant armies and next-door bombs and the precariousness of the entire civilization of which she knew herself to be a late, probably too exquisite bloom. Her art is less direct. In her novels the resonance of great events sounds from deep within individual lives. More than any other writer, Woolf has shown us how the most far-off tragedies become a part of the way we

think about our daily expectations, our friends, the colors of a park, the weather, the possibility of going on or the decision not to. The old image of Virginia Woolf the snob has largely given way to various loftier characterizations: Virginia Woolf the literary priestess, or the Queen of ever-titillating Bloomsbury, or – most influentially – the vital feminist whose requisite “room of her own” came to seem the very workshop in which such books as “The Second Sex” and “The Feminine Mystique” were later produced (Reinhart, 27). Recently, however, Woolf has been granted a too modern female pantheon: the victim. The discovered molestations of her childhood, the bouts of madness that led to her suicide, seem now to commend rather than to qualify her right to speak

for women. But Woolf’s personal example is in the strength and the steady professionalism that kept her constantly at work – the overambitious failures as sweated over as the lyric triumphs. For all her fragility as a woman, she was a writer of gargantuan appetite, and she knew full well how much she intended to enclose in her fine but prodigious, spreading, unbreakable webs. “Happier today than I was yesterday,” she wrote in her diary in January 1920, “having this afternoon arrived at some idea of new form for a new novel (Reinhart, 36). Suppose one thing of another … only not for 10 pages but for 200 or so – doesn’t that give the looseness and Patton 3 lightness I want; doesn’t that get closer and yet keep form and speed, and enclose everything, everything?”