THE COMPLETE SHORTER FICTION OF VIRGINIA WOOLF by Virginia Woolf

THE COMPLETE SHORTER FICTION OF VIRGINIA WOOLF

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A scholarly volume that functions as an elaborate but decidedly minor footnote to the life and work of the great author: 46 works of greatly various lengths, 18 of them published in Woolf's lifetime, 11 published since her death, 17 never published before (except in the British edition of this same volume, published by Hogarth Press, 1985). The majority of the pieces are sketch-like, seeming to be exercises in preparation for larger work. ""Kew Gardens,"" for example, chronicles the path of a snail under a leaf, while people stroll by, revealing segments of their lives. In ""A Society,"" young women ponder high culture and their fates within it: ""Oh, Cassandra, for Heaven's sake let us devise a method by which men may bear children! It is our only chance."" And the brilliance of Woolf's grandest themes is sometimes touched upon in the author's familiar rhythms and images: ""for she thought that she heard life itself crying out from a rough tongue in a scarlet mouth, from the wind, from the bells, from the curved green leaves of the cabbages"" (""In the Orchard""). Other pieces, though (sometimes solicited by magazines), decline into slightness, banality, and contrivance. ""Gipsy, the Mongrel"" is a sentimental dog story; ""The Duchess and the Jeweller"" is a thin, moralistic little tale from the school of Guy de Maupassant or Chekhov; and ""The Legacy,"" in which a man finds that his wife's suicide was for love of another man, is, though written near the end of Woolf's life, merely trickily plotted and O. Henry-esque. Those on a macabre ghoulish search for hints of the author's death-to-be will glean only the faintest hint or two, however poignant, from this life-spanning volume; specialists desiring to collect every stroke of the genius' pen will welcome it; common readers, looking for a book of a great author's stories, will be disappointed by its fluctuating density, unevenness, and fitful probing.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1985
ISBN: 0156212501
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich