Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Great Virginia Woolf Essay

Thanks to the Hayden's Ferry Review blog for posting a link to this fabulous essay by Virginia Woolf on the act of reading. Woolf poses the question "what is the pleasure I get, or the good I create" from reading? Her essay discusses the reader in relation to the writer (both author and critic) and contains more quotes for my collection. Among them:

"One should be an accomplice with the writer in his act, whether good or bad, of creation. For each of these books, however it may differ in kind and quality, is an attempt to make something."

"And the writers who have most to give us often do most violence to our prejudices, particularly if they are our own contemporaries."

And about criticism:
"It is after one has made up one's own opinion that the opinions of others are most illuminating."

And finally:
That readers "are fulfilling our share of the creative task - we are stimulating, encouraging, rejecting, making our approval and disapproval felt; and are thus acting as a check and a spur upon the writer."

As always, Woolf's style and syntax remain her own, her sentences singing in just that voice that can only be hers.


matfst said...

Wow that's fabulous. How can I not have my classes read and discuss that very first thing Monday morning? I'm going to try to make myself wait until we start Go Down, Moses next month though. Thank you thank you thank you.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Glad you found it useful, Matt. My students often struggle with Woolf's style, but it's the good kind of struggle that she alludes to her in essay.