In Virginia Woolf’s first collection of essays, published in 1925, she attempts to see literature from the point of view of the ‘common reader’ – someone whom she, with Dr Johnson, distinguished from the critic and the scholar. She investigates medieval England, Tsarist Russia, Elizabethan playwrights, Victorian novelists and modern essayists.
Reviewed by Alan Bradley in Slightly Foxed Issue 60.
From Bloomsbury . . .
I sometimes think that the books that have stayed longest in my mind are those that I haven’t read. As I scan my shelves, many of the titles my eyes pass over are books I read about while still at school or heard about at university; books bought in a rush of enthusiasm which faded as something new grabbed my attention.
In my salad days the two volumes of Virginia Woolf’s The Common Reader were among the most influential. Volume 1 was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1932. They are collections of reviews and journalism, written while she was also creating some of her best-known novels. They cover literary criticism, character sketches and the byways of reading . . .
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 60, Winter 2018
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