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The Common Reader [Anglais] [Cassette]

Virginia Woolf , Flo Gibson

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Description de l'ouvrage

30 janvier 2000
Woolf’s first and most popular volume of essays. This collection has more than twenty-five selections, including such important statements as “Modern Fiction” and “The Modern Essay.” Edited and with an Introduction by Andrew McNeillie; Index.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 étoiles sur 5  7 commentaires
35 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Uncommonly Good Read 14 juillet 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
You start out wanting to like this author. She has a witty, humorous way with words, a reverence for the written word and a telling grasp of what distinguishes writers of various eras. Of Elizabethan dramatists, she writes, "Theirs is the word coining genius, as if thought plunged into a sea of words and came up dripping." She writes about Classical Greek damatists as one who understands what separates them from all writers who follow: "To understand him," she says of Aeschylus, "is is necessary to take that dangerous leap through the air without the support of words ... for words, when opposed to such a blast of meaning, must give out, must be blown astray..." For her, the best writing, whether that of a Greek or an Englishman, has a meaning that defies words, a meaning that we percieve in the mind -- without words. Coming down the centuries and pausing to consider Jane Austen, she captures the essential writer in terms that encourage and enlarge: "Think away the surface animation, the likeness to life, and there remains, to provide a deeper pleasure, an exquisite discriminaiton of human values." Along with her interest in the well known (she treats many more than the few mentioned here)she has a teasing regard for near greats and nobodies, whose seldom touched books rest in near oblivion. Of the memoirs of one, Laetitia Pilkington, she writes: "... the dust lies heavy on her tomb ... nobody has read her since early in the last century when a reader ... left off in the middle and marked her place with a faded list of goods and groceries." Nor is it just to have a chuckle that she looks at such relative unknowns, but to give us a look at their pained and frequently bereft lives. Laetitia Pilkington was badly used by men in her life. Woolf has a compassion for such women. You begin by wanting to like this woman who claims it's the common reader who makes or breaks an author. As you read on, you find yourself happily taken in and smiling at her wit, humor and insight.
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Must Read Gem 4 août 2007
Par J. Robinson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
As background information, I read most of her work starting with her first novel "The Voyage Out" published in 1915, skipped her second novel - which is considered to be a flop, Night and Day from 1919 - and then read "Jacob's Room," her third, then went on and read "Mrs. Dalloway," her fourth, and next read "To The Lighthouse," etc. Also, I read much of Woolf's non-fiction and set up a Listmania list on amazon.com.

We are the "common readers," as Woolf describes us, we readers of her books. The present book is an informal summary of all literature from the Greeks to Joyce. It is not complete but it is bits and pieces that Woolf thinks are interesting. This is a medium length book about 200 pages long and available free on line at the Gutenberg project. I think her best fiction is "To The Lighthouse" - that is a masterpiece - and her best non-fiction is "A Room of One's Own." I like the Oxford version of the latter published along with "Three Guineas." Also, the present book is almost on par with "A Room of One's Own."

I got interested in Dostoevsky, and read most of his work, so I was interested to read what Woolf might say about him. These two comments from Woolf on Dostoevsky show you what you can expect from the "Common Reader." The two quotes below are from the section on Russian literature.

Comment #1: Her question: it was written in Russian, and is the sense lost in the translation to English?

"Doubtful as we frequently are whether either the French or the Americans, who have so much in common with us, can yet understand English literature, we must admit graver doubts whether, for all their enthusiasm, the English can understand Russian literature. Debate might protract itself indefinitely as to what we mean by "understand"."

Comment #2: Dostoevsky focuses on the Russian soul.

"Indeed, it is the soul that is the chief character in Russian fiction. Delicate and subtle in Chekov, subject to an infinite number of humours and distempers, it is of greater depth and volume in Dostoevsky; it is liable to violent diseases and raging fevers, but still the predominant concern. Perhaps that is why it needs so great an effort on the part of an English reader to read The Brothers Karamazov or The Possessed a second time. The "soul" is alien to him. It is even antipathetic. It has little sense of humour and no sense of comedy. It is formless. It has slight connection with the intellect. It is confused, diffuse, tumultuous, incapable, it seems, of submitting to the control of logic or the discipline of poetry. The novels of Dostoevsky are seething whirlpools, gyrating sandstorms, waterspouts which hiss and boil and suck us in. They are composed purely and wholly of the stuff of the soul. Against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture."

The "Common Reader" is only glimpses and fragments of literature but it has many interesting sections.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An uncommon writer and the common reader 19 avril 2007
Par Shalom Freedman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
In the opening essay in this book Woolf tells us she is writing for the common reader. The common reader is not the critic and not the scholar."He is worse educated, and nature has not gifted him so generously. He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others. Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole- a portrait of a man, a sketch of an age, a theory of the art of writing."

Woolf then goes on in the subsequent essays to write of Chaucer, Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, Montaigne, George Eliot, Defoe, Addison, 'Modern Fiction' 'The Lives of the Obscure' ' Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights' 'The Russian Point of View'.

She writes with a special kind of insight and artfulness. I especially liked her essay on Montaigne who she sees as one of the few writers who truly makes a portrait of himself, and writes truly of the whole of his experience. She sees him as one who knew not only how to communicate himself but to be himself, who defied convention and ceremony, and prizing contemplation and retirement made a book which was himself.

It can be said that Woolf in a way does the same with these reflections upon others which hold up a mirror to her own masterfully insightful sensibility.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 First of the moderns that made the method explicit 3 avril 2011
Par Bookman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Hemingway said that readers overstate his importance and understate his significance. The first part cannot be said about Virginia Woolf, of course, because her importance is obvious. But I do not think that many appreciate her significance to modern writing-- the first true modern after Flaubert, imho.
Flaubert tried to take the writer out of his work, and to do that, attempted to construct sentences and paragraphs that would hypnotize the reader. But he did this without actually understanding-- or at least explaining-- how this was done. That he did not fully understand his own method can perhaps be seen form the fact that he agonized so much about his writings, trying this then trying that, until it "worked," without really understanding what "worked" meant.
Virginia Woolf desired the opposite-- to make it subjective, not, as she called it, "material." Indeed, it is intriguing to realize how little she wrote about Flaubert, who came before her, and who clearly was a genius at her level, or-- dare I say it?-- perhaps even a little above.
But she at long last said explicitly what she was doing, and what she felt what was needed to make fiction modern. Here it is, as explicit and as clear as a blade of surgery knife:
"Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incidence scores upon the consciousness." (Virginia Woolf / "The common reader," First Series, page 150.)
In other words, VW is the first writer EVER who not only commanded the writer to make the reader the focus of his or her attention, but rather the READER'S BRAIN. VW is the first writer that said that THE PURPOSE OF THE SENTENCE IS TO SIMULATE REALITY-- both external and internal. She said it elegantly, but she said it clearly and explicitly, and in effect commanded the writer to do two things in his / her writing. To convey meanings and feelings, yes, but also to hypnotize the reader. And she even gave instructions on how to do the latter: Structure the sentence so that it bombards the reader's brain with the same sensations, in the same order, as physical reality and the writer's internal reality / feelings bombard the writer's brain.
This is as explicit as it comes. Hemingway did this, as did Conrad, and of course Flaubert-- but also Evelyn Waugh and Faulkner, and much later, poets such as John Ashbery and many others.
But VW said it first.
Whether you are a reader or a writer, buy this book and read it. If you are a reader, you'll understand better what modern writing is about. If you are a writer, well, your writing will improve immeasurably.
If there were six stars, I would give this book six.
AM
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Virginia Woolf is a masterful essayist and literary critic. 25 juin 2013
Par N. Maclean - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Reading the work of Virginia Woolf has always been a particular pleasure of mine, and having come to read her work later in my life than many people, I find it particularly satisfying to discover that there is so much more than just her major novels to discover and read with great pleasure, so much more of Ms. Woolf to look forward to reading! "The Common Reader", with its essays about great writers such as the master essayist, Montaigne, or the great nineteenth century female writers, Jane Austen, the Bronte's and George Eliot, are often provocative, always intelligent and frequently brilliant. "On Not Knowing Greek" and "How It Strikes a Contemporary" were also stand-outs for me. Virginia Woolf is one of the 20th Century's literary treasures, and I believe that "The Common Reader" should be read along with her other major works of fiction, for she is a very thought-provoking and skilled essayist and critic. Highly recommend.
Sheri Nelson Maclean, The Woodlands, Texas
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