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Archive for the ‘Victoria Glendenning’ Category

Leonard Woolf bio coverWe’ll have to wait until Nov. 28 to find out the 10 best books of the year chosen by the editors of the New York Times Book Review.

But the Times list of the 100 Notable Books of 2007 is available now. And it includes books with a Woolf connection.

Connect the dots that lead to Virginia from the tomes listed below.

Non-fiction

Fiction

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Victoria GlendinningWhen Victoria Glendinning‘s Leonard Woolf: A Biography hit the bookshelves last September, opinions about the book formed quickly. And comments — both negative and positive — flew.

Anonymous reviewers posted brief but critical comments on the Amazon UK Web site. Glendinning’s husband, Kevin O’Sullivan, responded with his own glowing defense and signed the review with his own name. That generated more furor.

Comments on the Amazon U.S.A. Web site were overwhelmingly favorable. And other sites, such as Simon & Schuster’s, posted complimentary blurbs from reviews at large. John Gross wrote his own positive assessment for Commentary Magazine entitled “Mr. Virginia Woolf.”Leonard Woolf bio cover

At this year’s 17th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I heard one or two negative remarks about the book, but Glendinning’s biography of Leonard wasn’t a topic of any of the conversations in which I was involved. I did wonder, though, what people found problematic.

Yesterday, Anne Fernald mentioned on her blog, Fernham, that she is reviewing the book for the Virginia Woolf Miscellany. She said she “found a lot to like” in Glendinning’s biography. I agree. I found sections helpful when I was looking for information about Leonard’s and Virginia’s wartime experiences.  

The Whitbread-prize-winning biographer of Vita Sackville-West seems to have taken the furor in stride. At least that’s how it sounds in an interview conducted by Susan Johnson of the Sydney Morning Herald.

“`The whole thing was extraordinary but I suppose if you put your head above the parapet at all, there are some people who will decide they don’t like you, even if they don’t know anything about you,'” she says in the article published today.

She went on to explain that, “`Virginia Woolf has become so much more than she really was, you know, she’s become iconic and devotees almost worship her and impose upon her all sorts of attributes. They kind of feel they own her.

“`I’m the first to respect her work and I’m not trying to down Virginia but there’s this sort of cult … I gave a talk at a Virginia Woolf society in Birmingham before the book was published and at questions afterwards somebody asked if Woolf said something or thought something or other and I, in all innocence, asked, ‘Which Woolf are you talking about?’

“`There was this hoarse voice from the audience: ‘There is only one Woolf.’ And she did not mean Leonard,'” Glendinning told Johnson.

Glendinning has produced an impressive body of work. She is the award-winning author of Vita: The Life of Vita Sackville-West and Trollope, as well as Elizabeth Bowen, Edith Sitwell, Rebecca West, and Jonathan Swift. She has also written three novels: Flight, The Grown-Ups, and Electricity.

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