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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:41 am    Post subject: Born this day  Reply with quote

25th January is the birthday of Robert Burns, W. Somerst Maugham, and Virginia Woolf.

Any views on any of these writers?

(PS I wonder if we could make this a regular daily feature!)



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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoy the works of the first two, not so keen on the third.


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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have read Somerset Maugham short stories, I found Burn's language too hard (and I don't enjoy poetry). Virginia Woolf is an author I have never tried. Her writing is intimidating to me and I have never wanted to give her a go. She seems pretentious. I am prepared to be persuaded otherwise. Is there one of her books which is more accessible than others?


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try Mrs Dalloway, Ann - it's wonderful, and quite accessible.


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Evie
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love Virginia - love what she did with the form of the novel, love her use of language, love her intelligence and humour, love her imagination, love her characters.

Her essay A Room of One's Own is definitely worth reading, even for those who don't like her novels.  It is full of utterly wonderful things, as well as being a comment on the way intelligent women were regarded in her day - it is feminism, but not strident - there is a lot of warmth and humour in it.

Like Ann, I can't get to grips with Burns at all.  I have yet read Maugham, but very much want to.


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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie wrote:
Try Mrs Dalloway, Ann - it's wonderful, and quite accessible.


I'll look for it in the library Evie


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Marita



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 511


Location: Flanders, Belgium

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of those three I've only read Virginia Woolf and only one of her novels at that.
I really enjoyed 'Mrs Dalloway' though and I agree with Evie. A wonderful read.




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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie wrote:
Her essay A Room of One's Own is definitely worth reading, even for those who don't like her novels.  It is full of utterly wonderful things, as well as being a comment on the way intelligent women were regarded in her day - it is feminism, but not strident - there is a lot of warmth and humour in it.

I saw a stage version of it by Patrick Garland in Christchurch in 2003 at the Court Theatre (sadly destroyed in the earthquake) with Denise O'Connell as Woolf. I recall the humour, subtlety, and optimism of what she thought a liberated woman could achieve.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're afraid of Virginia Woolf - try ORLANDO.  And her essays, collected in six volumes, are full of interest.  I endorse Evie's recommendation of 'A Room of One's Own'.  And her diaries.....
I read BETWEEN THE ACTS last year. It's impressionistic and full of lovely writing.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bit random, this, but I just remembered that bit from Father Ted, where Ted is trying to impress an attractive female novelist. She, describing her previous husband, says: "Now, there was a an who really was afraid of Virginia Woolf", and Ted, not getting the reference, says innocently: "Why? Was she following him or something?"

I suppose that having grown up as a bookish type in Scotland, it's inevitable that I like Burns. I remember writing about "Holy Willie's Prayer" for my English Highers (Scottish equivalent of A-levels): it remains to this day about as biting a piece of satire I've come across. I love also the good humour and folksy rumbustiousness of "Tam O'Shanter"; and Burns also predates Wordsworth in using everyday diction and traditional ballad rhythms to convey great depth of feeling. After the whimsicality in the opening verse of " To a Mouse", we get, I think, real depth of feeling. (There is a superb essay by Seamus Heaney on this poem, which we often take for granted as it is so wel known.)

Somerset Maugham and Virginia Woolf make a fascinating comparison. They both flourished at around the same time, but while Virginia Woolf was at the cutting edge of modernism, Maugham was very conservative, his literary tastes and values very much rooted in the previous century. Much of Maugham's work has dated, but he was such a fine craftsman, his best works do continue to be read and enjoyed. His best short stories, The Razor's Edge (just read that opening chapter!), and, especially, Cakes and Ale remain delightful.

I have problems with Oolf, I must admit. Generally, I do find myself very much in sympathy with modernist authors (Andrey Bely, TS Eliot, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, etc) and tend to see modernism not so much as a radical break from what had come earlier, but as a continuation by other means of various earlier trends. Novelists of the 19th century set out to depict the everyday, but to invest that everyday with significance (Middlemarch, Madame Bovary, the stories of Chekhov, etc) and writers such as Joyce or Woolf attempted to do much the same, albeit with different means. But I can't discern that significance in the everyday in Woolf's work: my fault, I'm sure, since so many other readers revere Woolf.




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