THE DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF: Vol. V, 1936-1941 by Virginia Woolf


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As editor Bell quite rightly notes in her preface to the final Woolf diary, ""despite the horrors and sorrows of these years, this is by no means a wholly cheerless or dispiriting chronicle."" In fact, and perhaps not unsurprisingly (in psychological terms), Woolf's own depression--leading to her 1941 suicide--is written about less prominently here than in some previous diary installments; only the first year, with terrible struggles over the revised version of The Years, is dominated by torment--although the violent death of nephew Julian Bell and the outbreak of WW II will heavily shadow the rest of the book Elsewhere, there are amused, often cutting portraits of friends and acquaintances: young Spender and Isherwood, old H. G. Wells, creepy Somerset Maugham, confessional Hugh Walpole (VW's fascination with homosexuality continues), Elizabeth Bowen, Morgan Forster (chum/rival) and other Bloomsburyites. Work continues--on Three Guineas (""the mildest childbirth I have ever had""), on the biography of Roger Fry. And, until the very end, Woolf remains eloquently alive to everything passing by--from a glimpse of a tramp in the park to Edward VIII's abdication speech. (""Well, one came in touch with human flesh, I suppose. Also with a set pigheaded steely mind. . . a very ordinary young man."") Like the previous volumes: impeccably, generously annotated--and surprisingly rich in wit and joy as well as evocative moodiness.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1984
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich