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The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf

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Woolf continually used stories and sketches to experiment with narrative models and themes for her novels. This collection of nearly fifty pieces brings together the contents of two published volumes, A Haunted House and Mrs. Dalloway’s Party; a number of uncollected stories; and several previously unpublished pieces. Edited and with an Introduction by Susan Dick.


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Woolf continually used stories and sketches to experiment with narrative models and themes for her novels. This collection of nearly fifty pieces brings together the contents of two published volumes, A Haunted House and Mrs. Dalloway’s Party; a number of uncollected stories; and several previously unpublished pieces. Edited and with an Introduction by Susan Dick.

30 review for The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    Virginia Woolf writes with an extreme level of precision; she is the absolute master of capturing the intensity of a single image. As such, I think she is a far more talented short story writer than a novelist. A perfect short story, one with a precise form, expressive language and a meaningful allegory, is closer to poetry than it is to a novel. The language needs to be weighed carefully because just one sentence (or perhaps even just one word) can change the entire meaning of the piece: it has Virginia Woolf writes with an extreme level of precision; she is the absolute master of capturing the intensity of a single image. As such, I think she is a far more talented short story writer than a novelist. A perfect short story, one with a precise form, expressive language and a meaningful allegory, is closer to poetry than it is to a novel. The language needs to be weighed carefully because just one sentence (or perhaps even just one word) can change the entire meaning of the piece: it has to be exact. Woolf’s stories are perfectly on point. I don’t think she writes plots very well (or, at least, I don’t seem to be able to engage with them.) She plays with words and images and in the short story form this is fantastic though when combined with a complex yet understated plot in a novel, it is very easy to become lost in the mirage of words she throws at her readers; her writing is heavily descriptive and sometimes this detracts from her longer pieces. Here though it is wonderful, simply because the plots are so irrelevant. Kew Gardens is perhaps one of the finest short stories I have ever read: the story is one image, a glimpse into the mundane nature of a city garden. It is full of life and colour and people. As I read Woolf’s words I could see the flowers in all their hues. I could smell the petals and I could hear the voices of the citizens. I was there. The effect was a remarkable feat of writing. "From the oval-shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with sports of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end." So consider me impressed. I will read the rest of her novels (eventually) and it will be interesting to see if my opinion remains the same.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gaurav

    It was my first exposure to Virginia Woolf's works and I enjoyed every line of the book. Virginia Woolf is one of those modern authors who reshaped the way fiction is written; she really redefines the boundaries of fiction as the stories are more of sensations rather than well crafted traditional short stories. The stories are having more rhythmic sense rather than narrative, the stories have just loose sensations, which can be interpreted in so many different ways; Virginia Woolf is one of those It was my first exposure to Virginia Woolf's works and I enjoyed every line of the book. Virginia Woolf is one of those modern authors who reshaped the way fiction is written; she really redefines the boundaries of fiction as the stories are more of sensations rather than well crafted traditional short stories. The stories are having more rhythmic sense rather than narrative, the stories have just loose sensations, which can be interpreted in so many different ways; Virginia Woolf is one of those authors who understand human psychology in true sense, she uses words with a precision of surgeon and webs those to create a vivid world of sensations and memories. In her short fiction Woolf typically focused on minute physical detail and experimented with stream-of-consciousness techniques, interior monologue, and symbolism to capture the subjective workings of human thought.The elements of 'stream of consciousness' could be traced in the stories and those are used so effortlessly by the author as she understands human nature better than any human being. The precision of her words and her language captures the scope of the world, Woolf brings out the voice of objects on paper as if those objects are alive and have a voice of their own A Haunted House: "The window panes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the apple turned its yellow side. Yet, the moments after, if the door was opened, spread about the floor, hung from the walls, pendants from the ceiling- what? My hands were empty. The shadow of a thrush crossed the carpet; from the deepest walls of silence the wood pigeon drew its bubble of sound. 'Safe, safe, safe,'the pulse of house beat softly....." 'Monday or Tuesday' has loose web of words without narrative and the story can be interpreted in different ways-it can be considered as a cornerstone of literary modernism- "Flaunted, leaf-light, drifting at corners, blown across the wheels, silver-splashed, home or not home, gathered, scattered, squandered in separate scales, swept up, down, torn, sunk, assembled–and truth?" An unwritten novel: Woolf has artistic imagination at work, raising doubts about its own creations, asking questions, and posing alternative interpretations; cancels those as invalid, mistaken interpretation, or rejects them as inadequate. She develops the narrative using all the uncertainties, mistakes, hesitations; the story can be sought as an example of meta-fiction- as the author uses experimental style to shaping fiction out of everyday observations and sensations. "SUCH AN EXPRESSION of unhappiness was enough by itself to make one's eyes slide above the paper's edge to the poor woman's face–insignificant without that look, almost a symbol of human destiny with it. Life's what you see in people's eyes; life's what they learn, and, having learnt it, never, though they seek to hide it, cease to be aware of–what?" "Running it in and out, across and over, spinning a web through which God himself–hush, don't think of God! How firm the stitches are! You must be proud of your darning. Let nothing disturb her. Let the light fall gently, and the clouds show an inner vest of the first green leaf. Let the sparrow perch on the twig and shake the raindrop hanging to the twig's elbow.... Why look up? Was it a sound, a thought? Oh, heavens! Back again to the thing you did, the plate glass with the violet loops? But Hilda will come. Ignominies, humiliations, oh! Close the breach." Kew Gardens: In Kew Gardens, Woolf further expanded her experimental styles - the author has revoked human moods and philosophic reflections instead of traditional narratives. "FROM THE OVAL-SHAPED flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. The petals were voluminous enough to be stirred by the summer breeze, and when they moved, the red, blue and yellow lights passed one over the other, staining an inch of the brown earth beneath with a spot of the most intricate colour. The light fell either upon the smooth, grey back of a pebble, or, the shell of a snail with its brown, circular veins, or falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue and yellow the thin walls of water that one expected them to burst and disappear. Instead, the drop was left in a second silver grey once more, and the light now settled upon the flesh of a leaf, revealing the branching thread of fibre beneath the surface, and again it moved on and spread its illumination in the vast green spaces beneath the dome of the heart-shaped and tongue-shaped leaves. Then the breeze stirred rather more briskly overhead and the colour was flashed into the air above, into the eyes of the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July." 'The Mark on the Wall': The story is an example of symbolism since the mark on the wall is symbolised to different things for ascertaining what that mark could be, but the narrator is never sure about it. This confusion about the identity of the mark on the wall can be interpreted as the confusion that people have in relation to the meaning of life- "But for that mark, I’m not sure about it; I don’t believe it was made by a nail after all; it’s too big, too round, for that. I might get up, but if I got up and looked at it, ten to one I shouldn’t be able to say for certain; because once a thing’s done, no one ever knows how it happened.” The narrator expects people to develop ideas of their own -“Everybody follows somebody, such is the philosophy of Whitaker” In the last phase of story, the narrator takes about shedding off dogmas-" And what is knowledge? What are our learned men save the descendants of witches and hermits who crouched in caves and in woods brewing herbs, interrogating shrew-mice and writing down the language of the stars? And the less we honour them as our superstitions dwindle and our respect for beauty and health of mind increases.... Yes, one could imagine a very pleasant world. A quiet, spacious world, with the flowers so red and blue in the open fields. A world without professors or specialists or house-keepers with the profiles of policemen, a world which one could slice with one's thought as a fish slices the water with his fin, grazing the stems of the water-lilies, hanging suspended over nests of white sea eggs.... How peaceful it is down here, rooted in the centre of the world and gazing up through the grey waters, with their sudden gleams of light, and their reflections–if it were not for Whitaker's Almanack–if it were not for the Table of Precedency!" Lappin and Lapinova: The protagonist of the story, Rosalind constructs an alternative fantasy world where Ernest is a rabbit king called Lappin and she herself – a hare called Queen Lapinova since she couldn't adjust to her marriage. "Rosalind had still to get used to the fact that she was Mrs. Ernest Thorburn. Perhaps she never would get used to the fact that she was Mrs. Ernest Anybody, she thought, as she sat in the bow window of the hotel looking over the lake to the mountains, and waited for her husband to come down to breakfast." Woolf in a few pages does a brilliant job of depicting how subtle things can have a great effect on relationships. She shows us how delicate love can sometimes be. "The golden table became a moor with the gorse in full bloom; the din of voices turned to one peal of lark’s laughter ringing down from the sky. It was a blue sky — clouds passed slowly. And they had all been changed — the Thorburns. She looked at her father-in-law, a furtive little man with dyed moustaches. His foible was collecting things — seals, enamel boxes, trifles from eighteenth-century dressing tables which he hid in the drawers of his study from his wife. Now she saw him as he was — a poacher, stealing off with his coat bulging with pheasants and partridges to drop them stealthily into a three-legged pot in his smoky little cottage. That was her real father-in-law — a poacher. And Celia, the unmarried daughter, who always nosed out other people’s secrets, the little things they wished to hide — she was a white ferret with pink eyes, and a nose clotted with earth from her horrid underground nosings and pokings. Slung round men’s shoulders, in a net, and thrust down a hole — it was a pitiable life — Celia’s; it was none of her fault. So she saw Celia. And then she looked at her mother-in-law — whom they dubbed The Squire. Flushed, coarse, a bully — she was all that, as she stood returning thanks, but now that Rosalind — that is Lapinova — saw her, she saw behind her the decayed family mansion, the plaster peeling off the walls, and heard her, with a sob in her voice, giving thanks to her children (who hated her) for a world that had ceased to exist..." Overall, it can be said that Woolf's experiments with poetic style, her psychological focus, and her subjective point of view expanded the limits of time and perception within the framework of the short story, influencing and contributing significantly to the development of modern short fiction.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    One can sense Woolf’s need to push the boundaries of fiction in these short stories more openly than in her novels. As she experiments with literary techniques and poetic resources in order to express the inexpressible, she captures the transience of the present moment and dissects its multiple perspectives through minute, exquisite description. And so, a green glass can become a fantastic world where color and darkness fuse with the mood of the absent narrator, a passing reflection on a mirror e One can sense Woolf’s need to push the boundaries of fiction in these short stories more openly than in her novels. As she experiments with literary techniques and poetic resources in order to express the inexpressible, she captures the transience of the present moment and dissects its multiple perspectives through minute, exquisite description. And so, a green glass can become a fantastic world where color and darkness fuse with the mood of the absent narrator, a passing reflection on a mirror entails the story of a lifetime, a mark on the wall invites the observant mind to meditate on existential issues. All of these transmutations and many others are bathed in alternating scathing humor and unsentimental yearning that add a sophisticated touch to the compilation. Woolf’s magisterial use of the word has a double effect; that of giving sensory dimension to the most insignificant detail of everyday life and a matchless faculty to preserve what is naturally evanescent in spite of the merciless passage of time. Like life itself, many of these tales lack a neat conclusion; they rather linger disquietingly into the mind of the mesmerized reader who tries to figure out what it is exactly that he has read. “More rhythm than narrative”, that’s how Woolf herself describes her short stories. I would also add that she creates an aura around everyday life without disguising the tedium, the ordinariness of uneventful days wasted and gone down the drain and the obtuse isolation in which we mostly live. She prefers unadulterated reality rather than constructing a romanticized fiction out of it, and that’s the groundbreaking approach that combined with the experimental style of these short pieces of writing makes it possible to capture the intangible essence of a moment, the sensation of simply “being”. And I do feel that in our growingly frenetic days we are in high need to learn to empty our minds and just be, like a jar of flowers sitting gracefully on a table taking in the stray sunrays that go its way and simply is what it is. Maybe we’ll find some kind of peace when our inner and outer worlds, when the self and the other, cross boundaries and merge naturally. And that is exactly what it felt like to read Woof. Disquietingly peaceful.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Often reading as fragmentary exercises in craft, Woolf's short stories experiment with the many ways in which fiction might transcribe sensation and perception. They share with the novels Woolf's signature iridescent style: her interest in interiority, her mesmerizing descriptions and meandering pace, her love of literary artifice. Her novels, though, are in the end fundamentally concerned with character and communication, the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we empathize with one another Often reading as fragmentary exercises in craft, Woolf's short stories experiment with the many ways in which fiction might transcribe sensation and perception. They share with the novels Woolf's signature iridescent style: her interest in interiority, her mesmerizing descriptions and meandering pace, her love of literary artifice. Her novels, though, are in the end fundamentally concerned with character and communication, the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we empathize with one another and share parts of ourselves with the world. By contrast, her stories often lack both distinct characters and coherent narratives; they instead accumulate impressions and reactions, while self reflexively considering the patterns of consciousness. "Kew Gardens" recreates the sense of walking about the famous garden in July, for instance, while "The Mark on the Wall" muses about the nature of human attention. In the best of Woolf's short fiction, the thoughtful exploration of what it means to feel becomes an end in itself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    I was reading a collection of short stories by Vita Sackville-West when it was time to choose my next Virginia Woolf title, so I thought it would be fun to read this collection of her short work. With selections ranging from before 1917 to 1941, there is a great deal to enjoy here. And I did enjoy nearly everything, it was not until I reached the final section (1926 -1941) that I began to struggle. There were 17 pieces in the section; many of them were just one or two pages in length. But they a I was reading a collection of short stories by Vita Sackville-West when it was time to choose my next Virginia Woolf title, so I thought it would be fun to read this collection of her short work. With selections ranging from before 1917 to 1941, there is a great deal to enjoy here. And I did enjoy nearly everything, it was not until I reached the final section (1926 -1941) that I began to struggle. There were 17 pieces in the section; many of them were just one or two pages in length. But they all seemed distant to me, as if my brain just said 'here and no further'. I will come back some day and give this section proper attention, because I ended up skimming through it this time. And I had to skip all of the Notes And Appendices pages due to the extremely tiny print. I know I missed explanation notes for many references throughout the stories but old eyes have their limits. From my notes, I see that I had a bit of trouble reading so many of these pieces one right after the other. Woolf makes you work, you cannot really relax and just absorb the tale, and that can get tiresome. Also the basic themes here are repeated over and over until you expect each story to be set in a gathering at someone's home, or show the inner frettings of outwardly socially confident people. Then when the basic theme changes to something else, it is like a breath of fresh air. I think this book should be read in small doses with other books in between, just to give your mental powers a rest every so often. Also from my notes, I see that the majority of the stories I liked the best came from the years 1917-1921. For me these showcased VW's wonderful imagination and her ability to capture moods and settings in such a way as to make the reader experience them also. Kew Gardens was lovely: contrasting the life going on down in the soil of one of the flower beds with the life hurrying past on two feet. Solid Objects was a chilling portrayal of the development of an obsession that changed a man's life. An Unwritten Novel shows us the writer on a train, imagining a story for the woman across from her in the compartment, with changes in the planned plot showing up according to people and actions around her as the ride continues. And finally A Haunted House was a charming explanation of various noises and bumps in the night. I have not yet read detailed biographies about Woolf. I am familiar with her general story, of course, but I am saving the two biographical titles in my stack until I have read the other prose works I have planned. But it seemed to me that during the years 1917 to 1921 she wrote more varied pieces, at least in these shorter lengths, and I would dare to say that perhaps she had more fun with them. I am going to take a short break before I read the next Woolf Volume, but I will return soon to this intriguing author and see what other delights she has waiting for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    A selection of prose/poetry that reminds me much of James joyce: after all, they were both working at the same time and both had experienced the modernist movement. There are lovely lines here such as "Blue are the ribs of the wrecked rowing boats"; there is what feels like prose/poetry that needs to be read and reread to (hopefully) get a grip on what, exactly, Woolf was trying to say; and there are bits that, to me, seemed like a writer scribbling: I can't imagine these notes were meant to be A selection of prose/poetry that reminds me much of James joyce: after all, they were both working at the same time and both had experienced the modernist movement. There are lovely lines here such as "Blue are the ribs of the wrecked rowing boats"; there is what feels like prose/poetry that needs to be read and reread to (hopefully) get a grip on what, exactly, Woolf was trying to say; and there are bits that, to me, seemed like a writer scribbling: I can't imagine these notes were meant to be published. But, all in all, this is a fascinating look into Woolf's world.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    I knew I should read Woolf, but I kept putting it off because I knew she wrote alot of stream-of-consciousness, which is not my favorite style. And the stream-of-consciousness stories in this collection are not my favorites, but there are some absolute gems, too, which make me understand why everyone makes such a big fuss over Woolf. I would count "Solid Objects" and "The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn" among the best short stories every written. I could read them over and over just for the lov I knew I should read Woolf, but I kept putting it off because I knew she wrote alot of stream-of-consciousness, which is not my favorite style. And the stream-of-consciousness stories in this collection are not my favorites, but there are some absolute gems, too, which make me understand why everyone makes such a big fuss over Woolf. I would count "Solid Objects" and "The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn" among the best short stories every written. I could read them over and over just for the loveliness of the language. Woolf did have incredible insight into human psychology and a gift for illuminating a moment.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    I've had this book for quite some time and so part of me felt like this was going to be somewhat of an obligatory read when it ended up being quite enjoyable. I didn't expect Woolf to be as playful and funny as she was in many of these tales. Arranged chronologically, you can see her style and interests develop as she works through everything from vignettes to character sketches. There is a spirit of invention and an undermining of social conventions/expectations in many of these pieces. In "A S I've had this book for quite some time and so part of me felt like this was going to be somewhat of an obligatory read when it ended up being quite enjoyable. I didn't expect Woolf to be as playful and funny as she was in many of these tales. Arranged chronologically, you can see her style and interests develop as she works through everything from vignettes to character sketches. There is a spirit of invention and an undermining of social conventions/expectations in many of these pieces. In "A Society" women take the trouble to actually read and find that the benefit of the doubt they've given to men all these years has been sorely misplaced (men have not been holding up their part of the social contract and writing brilliant works while women raise the children). Nature itself often takes on a symbolic role as Woolf walks us through wonderfully descriptive landscapes. These stylistic approaches and some of the exact characters would later be woven into the novels for which she is better known. I think my favorite in this collection was actually the children's story, "The Widow and the Parrot," but there were at least a dozen others that spoke to me, as well. And I learned a new exclamation---"Lawk a mussy!"---with which I hope to drive my son absolutely crazy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Utterly splendid. Woolf is a master of the short story craft; she creates delicious and startling slices of life, and presents them in beautiful and original ways.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda K

    Great book to have by the nightstand and pick up every now and then, really nice to read so much of Woolf, and it vas very interesting to see her progress over time. So yeah, great read, would recommend!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Virginia Woolf understands life better than any human being. The precision of her words and her language captures the scope of the world: from the snail in "Kew Gardens" to Miranda in a space as big as the eye of a needle in "In the Orchard." "A Society" was enthralling and provocative. "The Mark on the Wall" reminded me of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." I enjoyed the way Woolf brought back the snail. My favorite story, by far, is "Solid Objects." I also loved "The Duches Virginia Woolf understands life better than any human being. The precision of her words and her language captures the scope of the world: from the snail in "Kew Gardens" to Miranda in a space as big as the eye of a needle in "In the Orchard." "A Society" was enthralling and provocative. "The Mark on the Wall" reminded me of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." I enjoyed the way Woolf brought back the snail. My favorite story, by far, is "Solid Objects." I also loved "The Duchess and the Jeweller." "The Shooting Party" reminded me of "An Unwritten Novel," but far eerier. "Lappin and Lappinova" felt strange to me- the way Rosalind used her fantasy world as a coping mechanism was frightening and frustrating all at once. Favorite quotes: "We will find out what the world is like." [A Society] "Oh, how it whirls and surges - floats me afresh!" [An Unwritten Novel"] "The contrast between the china so vivid and alert, and the glass so mute and contemplative, fascinated him, and wondering and amazed he asked himself how the two came to exist in the same world." [Solid Objects] "Something murmuring in the distance, the world of course." [A Woman's College From Outside] "She was one of those reticent people whose minds hold their thoughts enmeshed in clouds of silence - she was filled with thoughts." [The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection] "It cut the string that held the rain." [The Shooting Party] "One after another, lamps stood up; held their yellow heads erect for a second; then were felled." [The Shooting Party] "And again he dismantled himself and became once more the little boy playing marbles in the alley where they sell stolen dogs on Sunday." [The Duchess and the Jeweller] "She felt that her icicle was being turned into water. She was being melted; dispersed; dissolved into nothingness." [Lappin and Lapinova]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kyriakos Sorokkou

    UPDATES IN BOLD In the last week of July 2015 I was reaching the end of my Virginia Woolf Marathon, reading the last 3 books simultaneously. By the end I was ill with Virginiasis nervosa. . . This collection included stories mainly from the Monday or Tuesday collection of short stories; and a few other stories she publish in magazines, including Harper's Bazaar (Yes, Virginia Woolf was sending stories to Harper's Bazaar), along with with four full-page woodcuts by Vanessa Bell (her sister). Many of UPDATES IN BOLD In the last week of July 2015 I was reaching the end of my Virginia Woolf Marathon, reading the last 3 books simultaneously. By the end I was ill with Virginiasis nervosa. . . This collection included stories mainly from the Monday or Tuesday collection of short stories; and a few other stories she publish in magazines, including Harper's Bazaar (Yes, Virginia Woolf was sending stories to Harper's Bazaar), along with with four full-page woodcuts by Vanessa Bell (her sister). Many of the stories were not actually stories (in the conventional way), but reflections of an observer on a train, thoughts, descriptions of lamps and pot plants in dimly lit rooms. Plot is not what you are going to expect from these stories. Not my cup of tea, although some stories where intriguing (if you can call these clusters of words stories). 2.6 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vicky P

    I came into this book having read no Virginia Woolf and not really knowing what to expect. A lot of the shorter sketches felt like things she had written just for the sake of writing and that got published because she became famous later. Almost like they weren't ever meant for the eyes of consumers. Nonetheless, she has a colorful way with words, and a couple of her "longer" stories (they were all incredibly short) I really got into. This book is best read with the idea in mind that you might s I came into this book having read no Virginia Woolf and not really knowing what to expect. A lot of the shorter sketches felt like things she had written just for the sake of writing and that got published because she became famous later. Almost like they weren't ever meant for the eyes of consumers. Nonetheless, she has a colorful way with words, and a couple of her "longer" stories (they were all incredibly short) I really got into. This book is best read with the idea in mind that you might skip around and skip some things entirely. And that's okay. Would recommend to people who enjoy stream of consciousness.

  14. 4 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    This volume has notes about each of the short stories. One of my favourites is The Legacy, a later work that was rejected by a US women’s magazine shortly before Virginia Woolf died. Poor old Virginia — dealing with rejection at such a delicate moment. I won’t describe The Legacy’s plot points (a husband dealing with the legacy of his wife’s sudden death), but all in all the story, and the story of the story, amounts to a dark-humour glimpse into a writer’s soul. This collection really is a kind This volume has notes about each of the short stories. One of my favourites is The Legacy, a later work that was rejected by a US women’s magazine shortly before Virginia Woolf died. Poor old Virginia — dealing with rejection at such a delicate moment. I won’t describe The Legacy’s plot points (a husband dealing with the legacy of his wife’s sudden death), but all in all the story, and the story of the story, amounts to a dark-humour glimpse into a writer’s soul. This collection really is a kind of reference volume — there is so much here, presented with a wealth of background information.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Syd

    Honestly, I've read most of these stories more than once, and half the time I have no idea what's going on. Woolf used her short stories as vehicles to experiment with different voices, and it shows. I love the ones I do understand and as for the rest, I'll keep on trying. Honestly, I've read most of these stories more than once, and half the time I have no idea what's going on. Woolf used her short stories as vehicles to experiment with different voices, and it shows. I love the ones I do understand and as for the rest, I'll keep on trying.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    g o r g e o u s the perfect book to end the year. g o r g e o u s the perfect book to end the year.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    *2.5 stars* I love Woolf's writing and her ideas, but I really do find her fiction impenetrable. I will continue to try with it though. *2.5 stars* I love Woolf's writing and her ideas, but I really do find her fiction impenetrable. I will continue to try with it though.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Merry

    A mixed (and sometimes very experimental) bag but an enjoyable and fascinating reading experience.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    I think I would technically give this book a 4.5, but since the .5 reduction is bc I just don’t tend to be a fan of short stories in general, I’m giving it a 5. I’ve always thought Virginia Woolf was a genius and honestly this book proves it for me. I love that all her short stories were arranged chronologically because you could really see how she grows into herself as a writer and the beginnings of her style and how immensely talented she was. It was also super cool to read the short stories t I think I would technically give this book a 4.5, but since the .5 reduction is bc I just don’t tend to be a fan of short stories in general, I’m giving it a 5. I’ve always thought Virginia Woolf was a genius and honestly this book proves it for me. I love that all her short stories were arranged chronologically because you could really see how she grows into herself as a writer and the beginnings of her style and how immensely talented she was. It was also super cool to read the short stories that eventually made their way as parts of Mrs. Dalloway. As far as short stories go, this is definitely my favorite compilation I’ve read but I think that’s because it’s obvious a lot of these were more trial and error for her, and studies of various writing styles or practicing different voices etc which make them a lot more interesting than just a random short story written to actually be published independently. I will say though if you aren’t already a fan of VW, I don’t think this would really be your cup of tea? Or at least I think a lot of my enjoyment was predicated on the fact that I love her. Anyway, the stand out short stories for me were: “The Mark on the Wall” “A Society” “In the Orchard” “The Introduction” “A Simple Melody” “The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection” “Three Pictures” “Lappin and Lapinova” and “Gipsy, the Mongrel”

  20. 4 out of 5

    Descending Angel

    I love what I've read by Virginia Woolf so far by this collection of shorter works isn't a must have. There are some good short stories in here and some great writing, but there is a lot of what I would call fragments\experiments that don't go anywhere, woolf's most famous novel Mrs Dalloway was started from a couple short stories and that's what some of these feel like ~ starting points or ideas. Highlights ~ "The Mark on the Wall" "Kew Gardens" "Solid Objects" "The Widow and the Parrot: A True I love what I've read by Virginia Woolf so far by this collection of shorter works isn't a must have. There are some good short stories in here and some great writing, but there is a lot of what I would call fragments\experiments that don't go anywhere, woolf's most famous novel Mrs Dalloway was started from a couple short stories and that's what some of these feel like ~ starting points or ideas. Highlights ~ "The Mark on the Wall" "Kew Gardens" "Solid Objects" "The Widow and the Parrot: A True Story" "The Lady in the Looking-Glass" "Lappin and Lappinova" and "The Legacy".

  21. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Fournier

    This is a hefty read and I would highly recommend picking it up here and there but not reading straight through. I really enjoyed some of the stories, disliked others. It's interesting to see her style and themes evolve. Though her subjects are very much what she always writes about. I loved, "The Widow and the Parrot: A True Story", and the Duchess and the jeweller". This is a hefty read and I would highly recommend picking it up here and there but not reading straight through. I really enjoyed some of the stories, disliked others. It's interesting to see her style and themes evolve. Though her subjects are very much what she always writes about. I loved, "The Widow and the Parrot: A True Story", and the Duchess and the jeweller".

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrey Kurenkov

    Quite a treat if you are a fan of Woolf. Certainly enjoyed some stories more than others, but they were consistently interesting and it was fascinating to see Woolf's development as an author. Quite a treat if you are a fan of Woolf. Certainly enjoyed some stories more than others, but they were consistently interesting and it was fascinating to see Woolf's development as an author.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Kemp

    Very interesting, I really liked the way it was written

  24. 5 out of 5

    Daisy May Johnson

    I am circling around the work of Virginia Woolf, dipping in my toe every now and and then and trying to figure out what this author is for me and what her work can be. I struggled a lot with some of her longer texts and still do, and so I wondered for a while whether we were ever going to wholly click. But then I found this, this collection of shorter fiction - some that barely even make a page - and it is a wonderful and fierce treat. For me, this is where her strength lies. There's something so I am circling around the work of Virginia Woolf, dipping in my toe every now and and then and trying to figure out what this author is for me and what her work can be. I struggled a lot with some of her longer texts and still do, and so I wondered for a while whether we were ever going to wholly click. But then I found this, this collection of shorter fiction - some that barely even make a page - and it is a wonderful and fierce treat. For me, this is where her strength lies. There's something so utterly appealing about the way she can capture mood and place and space within a few lines, something so rather wonderful about how she can spin a piece completely on its head with a final sentence, and I loved every inch of this collection. And the final lines! Woolf knows how to end a piece! The Complete Shorter Fiction Of Virginia Woolf is gathered into years; we have the 'early stories' before moving to 1917-1921, 1922-1925, and then 1926-1941. A certain preoccupation can be felt in these sectons with similarities of theme or colour or style, and the hints towards her wider work can be palpably felt at points. Yet even without this sort of contextual, scholarly edge, these are wildly wonderful stories. Some work better than others, some have more plot whilst others barely even hold the notion of 'plot' (whatever that may mean) in their grasp, and some storm off the page with heart and sentiment and fire. Favourites included Memoirs of a Novelist, a fierce and somewhat heartbreaking story about a female biographer of the late 'Miss Willett'; A Haunted House, which sees a ghostly couple walk through the shadows of their fomer life in searching of something; A Society, a brilliant (god it stopped me in my tracks) breakdown of the idea that men are smarter than women (it's so, so brilliant); and the outstanding Lappin and Lapinova, a relationship based around the fantasy (roleplay?) that both partners are rabbits (amazing, amazing, amazing). I talk a lot about elasticity when it comes to a text, the notion of stretching the page and the book itself to become something unknown, something different, something new - of pushing at form and shape and texture to find that edge of a book that can be completely made yours. Woolf's short stories are an education in how to make that happen. God, they're good. So good.

  25. 4 out of 5

    BookishWordish

    I think this is true no matter the book, no matter the author: every collection of shorter fiction is going to have some strong stories, and some weak stories. Sometimes it's just a matter of personal taste. Personally, I loved some of these stories. Some of the descriptions of people, landscapes, and complex emotional interiors were incandescent and very... very recognisably Woolf. Others were weaker, probably because they'd never really been intended for publication and therefore hadn't underg I think this is true no matter the book, no matter the author: every collection of shorter fiction is going to have some strong stories, and some weak stories. Sometimes it's just a matter of personal taste. Personally, I loved some of these stories. Some of the descriptions of people, landscapes, and complex emotional interiors were incandescent and very... very recognisably Woolf. Others were weaker, probably because they'd never really been intended for publication and therefore hadn't undergone her extensive editing process. Even those weaker stories were still quite beautiful, though. I can't say I had the same enjoyment, overall, as I've had when reading her books. I do think I'll always enjoy her longer fiction more, and I think it suits her style much better. But I'm still glad to have read this.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    This collection is interesting as a study of the evolution of Virginia's writing through the ages, but not that interesting in itself. VW's shorter fiction doesn't really compare to her novels in any way. She obviously didn't give much thought to some of them, probably not revising them very thoroughly before getting them published. And I don't think she really cared as much about her short stories as she did about her novels; some of the stories might have been written just for the money and ot This collection is interesting as a study of the evolution of Virginia's writing through the ages, but not that interesting in itself. VW's shorter fiction doesn't really compare to her novels in any way. She obviously didn't give much thought to some of them, probably not revising them very thoroughly before getting them published. And I don't think she really cared as much about her short stories as she did about her novels; some of the stories might have been written just for the money and others as exercises in style or sketches for future novels. One of the most interesting things for me in this collection was actually the editing; it was very complete and well done, and the editor's notes were somehow more enjoyable to read than the stories themselves.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This isn't the exact book I read, but the collected short stories of Virginia Woolf are a fascinating read because her short stories are solely about language, not plot. Her writing is so visual and delicious, I recommend reading some of her stories out loud. Some of them you may need to read once or twice to get more out of them, but if you are a fan of short stories, it will be interesting to see how different her approach is than other writers. This isn't the exact book I read, but the collected short stories of Virginia Woolf are a fascinating read because her short stories are solely about language, not plot. Her writing is so visual and delicious, I recommend reading some of her stories out loud. Some of them you may need to read once or twice to get more out of them, but if you are a fan of short stories, it will be interesting to see how different her approach is than other writers.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shaktima Michele Brien

    Virginia Woolf is a giant. Her story-telling is simply genial. Her observations, her flow to describe an object, a sensation, an evocation or a deep truth are exquisitely told. The author goes into complex and sideways thoughts when looking at material things and circumstances. She brings to your attention the most intimate details that leave you in awe of their multi-dimensional qualities. What a sophisticated mind!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    It's just not my book. I appreciate Woolf is one of the greats. Like an ancestor of the craft. But I just can't get into that heavy, clunky, descriptive style of hers. I did enjoy one story, "A Scoeity". I thought it was a nice piece of satirical rhetoric but I just can't finish this book. It puts me to sleep. It's just not my book. I appreciate Woolf is one of the greats. Like an ancestor of the craft. But I just can't get into that heavy, clunky, descriptive style of hers. I did enjoy one story, "A Scoeity". I thought it was a nice piece of satirical rhetoric but I just can't finish this book. It puts me to sleep.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zeldawheel

    Skipping around, I like her earlier stuff more than the later stuff. I'm just not deep enough to see where the more abstract pieces are going ... although I am deep enough to realize it's somewhere beyond my intellectual comfort zone. Skipping around, I like her earlier stuff more than the later stuff. I'm just not deep enough to see where the more abstract pieces are going ... although I am deep enough to realize it's somewhere beyond my intellectual comfort zone.

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