Wild Outbursts of Freedom: Reading Virginia Woolf's Short Fiction

Wild Outbursts of Freedom: Reading Virginia Woolf's Short Fiction

Wild Outbursts of Freedom: Reading Virginia Woolf's Short Fiction

Wild Outbursts of Freedom: Reading Virginia Woolf's Short Fiction

Synopsis

Explores Virginia Woolf's attitude toward the short story and her idea of short story composition.

Excerpt

“It seems as if I succeed nowhere. Yet, I'm glad to find, I have acquired a little philosophy. It amounts to a sense of freedom. I write what I like writing & there's an end on it” (Diary 2: 166). When Virginia Woolf wrote these words she was reflecting on the experience that had been the writing of her short story collection Monday or Tuesday (1921). Written when she was in her late thirties and eager to assert an independent voice, the volume was a work of enfranchisement that opened up a freer phase in her writing life. This sense of freedom is the salient point about Woolf's short fiction, for she never lost sight of the genre's creative possibilities and experimented with various types of short-story structure throughout her career. In his foreword to A Haunted House (1944), a collection of 18 stories compiled after Woolf's death, Leonard Woolf outlines the method behind Virginia's story writing:

All through her life, Virginia Woolf used at intervals to write short stories.
It was her custom, whenever an idea for one occurred to her, to sketch it
out in a very rough form and then to put it away in a drawer. Later, if an
editor asked her for a short story, and she felt in the mood to write one
(which was not frequent), she would take a sketch out of her drawer and
rewrite it, sometimes a great many times. Or if she felt, as she often did,
while writing a novel that she required to rest her mind by working at
something else for a time, she would either write a critical essay or work
upon one of her sketches for short stories. (7)

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