Sunday, April 3, 2016
Bloomsbury myth-busting of the highest order (Books - Virginia Woolf: A Portrait by Viviane Forrester)
Virginia Woolf: A Portrait (Columbia University Press, 2013), in 2013 is less strictly a biography than it is a literary myth-buster. If you are a fan of all things Bloomsbury, and I am an enthusiastic one, you are likely to be fascinated by new primary source material about Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, and the Duckworths. She uses this, a close reading of long-published letters, diaries and fiction, and a fresh frame-of-reference to reinterpret the famous relationships of Virginia Woolf to her father, husband, sister, and her own psyche. Her writing style is familiar and conversational, like a good literature professor leading a high-level seminar to share an original understanding of work she has reconsidered deeply. I don't know what it would be like to read this work without having a thorough grounding in Woolf's work, Leonard Woolf's diaries, and the famous Quentin Bell biography of Virginia Woolf, but I imagine it would be pointless. However, if you are an aficionado, the literary archeology is excellent, the writing accessible and clean, and the conclusions startling.