Leonard and Virginia Woolf: A Literary Partnership

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9780312090821: Leonard and Virginia Woolf: A Literary Partnership
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This new study of the relationship of Leonard and Virginia Woolf is based on two controversial assumptions: that 'Bloomsbury' never existed and that Virginia Woolf does not deserve her reputation as one of the greatest figures of English literary history. Aiming to restore perceptions of Leonard and Virginia Woolf to a more realistic level, without undermining their considerable achievements, Peter Alexander focuses on the surprising literary influence which Leonard and Virginia had on each other and the difficult yet fruitful partnership which they forged.
Clearly, Leonard Woolf had a profound effect on Virginia's writing, not merely in caring for her and providing the circumstances in which she could write, but in offering her a model of sensibility so different from her own that she was continually reacting against it, or (more damagingly) trying to emulate it. For her part, Virginia stimulated Leonard into writing novels, provided him with compelling subject matter through her prejudiced reactions to himself, and ultimately influenced not only the course of his writing, but even the style of his late autobiography.
Making extensive use of both unpublished and recently published material, including Leonard Woolf's letters and Virginia Woolf's early journals, this illustrated book combines the intellectual energy of a critical study with the excitement and narrative drive of a groundbreaking biography.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Admitting that he dislikes Virginia Woolf's novels, Alexander has written a strongly negative study of Woolf in the guise of exploring the Woolfs' influence on each other's writing. Presenting Virginia as a frigid, anti-Semitic snob who lacked domestic skills, Alexander holds her responsible for Leonard's alienation from his Jewishness (expressed in his second novel, The Wise Virgins ). Drawing on the Woolfs' diaries and letters, as well as on interviews with Trekkie Parsons (with whom Leonard had a romance after Virginia's death), Alexander asserts that Leonard's decision against allowing Virginia to have children was directly responsible for her literary work, as she subliminated her desire for babies by writing. He also credits Leonard for whatever feminist attitudes she expressed in her novels (which Alexander judges as lacking both characterization and plots). This polemical work is sure to be controversial in scholarly circles. Alexander is an associate professor of English in Australia. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

In this dual biography, Alexander charts the lives of Bloomsbury's famous couple, emphasizing their influence on each other and taking issue with those who consider Virginia one of the most important novelists of the 20th century. Drawing on recently published letters and early journals, Alexander points out her racism, her inability to deal with reality, and her madness, stressing Leonard's role in helping keep her sane. Although informative in its revelations about the Woolfs' marriage and literary interaction, the book fails to present convincing evidence to support the contention that Virginia's writing has been overrated. Alexander criticizes her behavior without sufficient analysis of her work and fails to credit her with the substantial innovations she made in the novel. Of interst only to scholars.
- Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780745009230: Leonard and Virginia Woolf: A Literary Partnership

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ISBN 10:  0745009239 ISBN 13:  9780745009230
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 1992
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