By Virginia Woolf
The following, in twenty-six essays, Woolf writes of English literature in its numerous varieties, together with the poetry of Donne; the novels of Defoe, Sterne, Meredith, and Hardy; Lord Chesterfield’s letters and De Quincey’s autobiography. She writes, too, in regards to the existence and artwork of ladies. Edited and with an advent via Andrew McNeillie; Index.
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Additional resources for The Second Common Reader: Annotated Edition
Passion had been the undoing of the lovely Lady Izabella--what use was her beauty now married to "that beast with all his estate"? Torn asunder by her brother's anger, by Temple's jealousy, and by her own dread of ridicule, she wished for nothing but to be left to find "an early and a quiet grave". That Temple overcame her scruples and overrode her brother's opposition is much to the credit of his character. Yet it is an act that we can hardly help deploring. Married to Temple, she wrote to him no longer.
Simple as they appear to us, these objects can be made monstrous and indeed unrecognizable by the manner in which the novelist relates them to each other. It would seem to be true that people who live cheek by jowl and breathe the same air vary enormously in their sense of proportion; to one the human being is vast, the tree minute; to the other, trees are huge and human beings insignificant little objects in the background. So, in spite of the text-books, writers may live at the same time and see nothing the same size.
All letters mee thinks should be free and easy as one's discourse". She was in agreement with an old uncle of hers who threw his standish at his secretary's head for saying "put pen to paper" instead of simply "wrote". Yet there were limits, she reflected, to free-and-easiness: ". . many pritty things shuffled together" do better spoken than in a letter. And so we come by a form of literature, if Dorothy Osborne will let us call it so, which is distinct from any other, and much to be regretted now that it has gone from us, as it seems, for ever.