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Book Title: Granite and Rainbow|
The author of the book: Virginia Woolf
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: October 15th 1975
ISBN 13: 9780156364751
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.29 MB
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Reader ratings: 7.2
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This is a posthumous collection of essays by Woolf ranging from about 1908 to the late 1930s, but mostly in the 1920s. As the blurb says the essays are on the art of fiction and the art of biography. Leonard Woolf collected together many essays and reportage in three volumes published in the years after Woolf’s death. This one came along in the late 1950s as a result of extensive research by two Woolf scholars in the US. Woolf usually did not keep copies of the articles she wrote and they were often published anonymously.
The title “Granite and Rainbow” comes from an essay entitled The New Biography. Woolf talks about the tension between the “granite-like solidity” of historical facts and the “rainbow-like intangibility” of the human personality and the weaving of these two things into a whole. She uses the necessity of doing this to illustrate the tedious and boring nature of Victorian biography and neatly dissects the book she is reviewing; a biography of Edward VII by Sidney Lee (one rating on GR) comparing it with Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Woolf comes back to this approach to biography a number of times in this collection.
I suppose the best known essay in this book concerns Hemmingway and is eminently quotable. She reviews his collection of short stories Men Without Women and also analyses The Sun Also Rises. The comment she makes about the short stories is classic Woolf; “There are in Men Without Women many stories which, if life were longer, one would wish to read again” (she doesn’t say how much longer). She thought Hemmingway’s characters talked too much; but her real criticism is that Hemmingway “lets his dexterity, like the bullfighter's cloak, get between him and the fact …. But the true writer stands close up to the bull and lets the horns - call them life, truth, reality, whatever you like - pass him close each time”. As to the characterisation, comparing him to Chekov the characters are “flat as cardboard”. The whole is a delight to read.
All the essays are well written as you would expect; this is a different Woolf to her fiction, this is her bread and butter and how she survived for many years. Some of the books reviewed are not well known now, some still known. The longest piece in the book is “Phases of Fiction” and covers novelists and poets like Dickens, Hardy, Trollope, Austen, the Brontes, Stephenson, assorted poets and goes as far as Proust; to name but a few. It is an interesting run through mostly English fiction and Woolf’s judgements are always pertinent and sometimes unexpected. This collection takes its place alongside The Common Reader and the other collections published after Woolf’s death; it contains some interesting reflections on the art of writing and reviewing.
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Read information about the author(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.
During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929) with its famous dictum, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
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