Montag, 14. Mai 2018

The First Reviews of Every Virginia Woolf Novel

On this day in 1925, Mrs. Dalloway—arguably the most famous work by iconic modernist writer and pioneer of the stream of consciousness narrative technique, Virginia Woolf—was first published. Capturing the complex and disquieting interiority of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post–WWI England, over the course of a single day, it is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.
Though troubled by debilitating bouts of mental illness throughout her life, culminating in her tragic suicide in 1941 at the age of 59, Woolf was an astonishingly prolific writer—of novels, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and drama—and by the 1930s had established herself as one of the most revered public intellectuals of the era.
To mark this auspicious literary anniversary, we’re taking a look back at the first New York Times reviews of each of Woolf’s ten novels, from The Voyage Out (1915), to the posthumously published Between the Acts (1941).

The Voyage Out, 1915

“This English novel, by an English writer, gives promise in its opening chapters of much entertainment. Later, the reader is disappointed. That the author knows her London in its most interesting aspects—those in which members of Parliament and their coterie of relatives and friends are the active figures—there can be no doubt. But aside from a certain cleverness—which, being all in one key, palls on one after going through a hundred pages of it—there is little in this offering to make it stand out from the ruck of mediocre novels which make far less literary pretension.
As for the story itself, it is painfully lacking, both in coherency and narrative interest … The Voyage Out is announced as the author’s first novel. That fact is the most hopeful thing about it. With the cleverness shown here, crude as most of it is, there should be a possibility of something worth while from the same pen in the future.”


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