Virginia Woolf (Critical Lives) (Paperback)
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Virginia Woolf was one of the most significant literary figures of the twentieth century—a major literary stylist and a lyrical novelist whose stream-of-consciousness approach in iconic books such as Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando would inspire generations of writers to follow. She was also one of the first to address the injustices of gender disparity and the ravages of World War I at home. Uncovering new details about Woolf’s life and the places she inhabited, this engaging biography offers fresh insights into her works and legacy, focusing on the ways place and imagination intertwine in her writing.
Drawing on Woolf’s letters, journals, diaries, autobiographical essays, and fiction, Ira Nadel paints a portrait of the writer in situ, whether in the enclosed surroundings of Hyde Park Gate or the open and free-spirited environs of Gordon Square’s Bloomsbury. He shows how Woolf’s experimental style was informed by her own reading life and how her deeply sensitive understanding of history, narrative, art, and friendship were rendered in her prose. He explores the famous Bloomsbury group of intellectuals in which she was immersed as well as her relationships with fascinating figures such as Vita Sackville-West and Lady Ottoline Morrel. Nadel looks at Woolf’s attitudes toward sex and marriage, analyzes her uncertain social and political views, and, finally, offers a sensitive examination of her mental instabilities and the nervous breakdowns that would plague her for most of her life, up until her suicide in 1941.
A moving account of an exceptional writer who ushered in a new era of literature, this biography perfectly captures the intricate relationship between art and life.
About the Author
Ira Nadel is professor of English at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He is the author of biographies of Leonard Cohen, Tom Stoppard, and David Mamet, and has also published widely on James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and modernism.
“The integration of place and space into the discussion of Woolf’s writings and biography make for an interesting and informative read, providing avid Woolf readers with a new lens through which to view her works and those less familiar with her work with enough background to get started. . . . As a Critical Lives biography. its aim is to provide readers with a broad understanding of her life and work, which this volume admirably docs, and it even manages to dig up some shards for future explorations of her writings.”
— Gay and Lesbian Review
"Nadel’s relatively brief biography of Woolf, then, provides an excellent introduction to this writer’s life."
— Modern Language Review