MOMENTS OF BEING: Unpublished Autobiographical Writings by Virginia Woolf
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MOMENTS OF BEING: Unpublished Autobiographical Writings

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Virginia Woolf perfected the art of portraying subjective perceptions and states of mind, but her autobiographical writings (five separate but overlapping sketches composed at different times) show that considerations of art did not alone form her style. From childhood on, she experienced the world only in fleeting sensations and the feelings those sensations aroused. Her early impression of ""lying in a grape and seeing through a film Of semi-transparent yellow"" never left her as she came to believe ""we are sealed vessels afloat on what it is convenient to call reality."" She drew her art from the emotions felt amid this flux of appearances because those emotions betokened ""some real thing behind appearances"" which only art could convey. ""By writing,"" she said, ""I am doing what is far more necessary than anything else"": disclosing ""that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art."" Yet these reminiscences betray more in her aestheticism than a private vision; and that is the passage from Victorian culture, with its confinement of women, psychological restraints, social responsibility, and formal manners, to the modernism of Bloomsbury, with its intellectual and social freedom, aesthetic subjectivity, and sexual frankness. And her vivid accounts of these two cultures, the one embodied by her cranky and repressed father Leslie Stephen, the other by, among others, the shocking Lytton Strachey, are among the principal delights of the book. As an autobiographer, Virginia Woolf is more analytical and self-consciously candid than in her letters, with the result that the rise of English modernism and her place in it are nowhere better revealed than here.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1976
ISBN: 0156619180
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich