The Unknown Virginia Woolf by Roger Poole
by Kay Fair
My fascination with the life and circumstances of Virginia Woolf continues to haunt my subconscious thirst for knowledge. It is that fascination that led me once again to the 820-ish section of my local library, where I stumbled upon The Unknown Virginia Woolf by Roger Poole.
Like many Woolf biographers, Mr. Poole seeks to answer the fabled "was Virginia Woolf insane" question. However, he begins with a preconceived conception that insanity did not exist in the mind of Virginia Woolf, and sets out to prove this point by referencing Woolf's texts. I understand that this book was meant to be a biography and not a scientific research paper... but something rubbed me the wrong way about the author's determination to prove Virginia Woolf's sanity by referencing her work, as opposed to the other way around. Instead of beginning with the theory and hand-picking evidence to support it, shouldn't Mr. Poole rather emerge himself in the works of Woolf and draw conclusions from the evidence?
So while I enjoyed the concept of him applying the correlating periods of Virginia Woolf's life to her writings (example, the unconsummated engagement of The Voyage Out which parallels Virginia Woolf's inability to embrace her role as both wife and lover), the twisting and omission of multiple facts rendered the book a failure in my opinion.
Full review available at http://whatrefuge.blogspot.com/2010/01/unknown-virginia-woolf.html
Click here to post comments.
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How?
Simply click here to return to Reader Book Reviews.
Return to Home