"We are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself."Published years after her death, Moments of Being is "the single most moving and beautiful thing that Virginia Woolf ever wrote about her own life" (The New York Times) and her only autobiographical writing. This collection of five pieces written for different audiences spanning almost four decades reveals the remarkable unity of Virginia Woolf's art, thought, and sensibility. "Reminiscences," written during her apprenticeship period, exposes the childhood shared by Woolf and her sister, Vanessa, while "A sketch of the Past" illuminates the relationship with her father, Leslie Stephens, who played a crucial role in her development as an individual a writer. Of the final three pieces, composed for the Memoir Club, which required absolute candor of its members, two show Woolf at the threshold of artistic maturity and one shows a confident writer poking fun at her own foibles.
Blindness--Henry Green's first novel, begun while he was still at Eton and finished before he left university--is the story of John Haye, a young student with literary airs. It starts with an excerpt from his diary, brimming with excitement and affectation and curiosity about life and literature. Then a freak accident robs John of his sight, plunging him into despair. Forced to live with his high-handed, horsey stepmother in the country, John begins a weird dalliance with a girl named Joan, leading to a new determination. Blindness is the curse of youth and inexperience and love and ambition, but blindness, John will discover, can also be the source of vision.
During the Blitz, Henry Green served on the London Auxiliary Fire Service, and this experience lies behind Caught, published when the bombing had only recently ended. Like Green, Richard Roe, the hero of this resolutely unheroic book, comes from the upper class. His wife remains at their country estate, far from the threatened city, while Roe serves under Pye, a professional fireman whose deranged sister once kidnapped Roe's young son, a bad memory that complicates the relationship between these two very different men. The book opens as the various members of the brigade are having practice runs and fighting boredom and sleeping around in the months before the attack from the air. It ends with Roe, who has been injured in the bombing, back in the country, describing and trying to come to terms with the apocalyptic conflagration in which he and his fellows were caught, putting into question the very notion of ordinary life.Caught was censored at the insistence of its publisher, Leonard Woolf, when it came out in 1943. This is the first American edition of the book to appear as Green intended.
Years ago, Jane Weatherby had a torrid affair with John Pomfret, the husband of her best friend. Divorces ensued. World War II happened. Prewar partying gave way to postwar austerity, and Jane and John's now-grown children, Philip and Mary, both as serious and sober as their parents were not, seem earnestly bent on marriage, which John and Jane consider a mistake. The two old lovers conspire against the two young lovers, and nothing turns out quite as expected.Nothing, like the closely related Doting, is a book that is almost entirely composed in dialogue, since in these late novels nothing so interested Green as how words resist, twist, and expose our intentions; how they fail us, lead us on, make fools of us, and may, in spite of ourselves, even save us, at least for a time. Nothing spills over with the bizarre and delicious comedy and poetry of human incoherence.
Originally published alongside Ulysses in the pages of the legendary Little Review, Mary Olivier: A Life is an intimate, lacerating account of the ties between daughter and mother, a book of transfixing images and troubling moral intelligence that confronts the exigencies and ambiguities of freedom and responsibility with empathy and power. May Sinclair's finest novel stands comparison with the work of Willa Cather, Katherine Mansfield, and the young Virginia Woolf.As a child, Mary Olivier's dreamy disposition and fierce intelligence set her apart from her Victorian family, especially her mother, "Little Mamma," whose dazzling looks cannot hide her meager love for her only daughter. Mary grows up in a world of her own, a solitude that leaves her free to explore her deepest passions, for literature and philosophy, for the austere beauties of England's north country, even as she continues to attend to her family. But in time the independence Mary values--at almost any cost--threatens to become a form of captivity itself.
Singapore, 1939: life on the eve of World War II just isn't what it used to be for Walter Blackett, head of British Singapore's oldest and most powerful firm. No matter how forcefully the police break one strike, the natives go on strike somewhere else. His daughter keeps entangling herself with the most unsuitable beaus, while her intended match, the son of Blackett's partner, is an idealistic sympathizer with the League of Nations and a vegetarian. Business may be booming--what with the war in Europe, the Allies are desperate for rubber and helpless to resist Blackett's price-fixing and market manipulation--but something is wrong. No one suspects that the world of the British Empire, of fixed boundaries between classes and nations, is about to come to a terrible end.
A love story and a war story, a tragicomic tale of a city under siege and a dying way of life, The Singapore Grip completes the "Empire Trilogy" that began with Troubles and the Booker prize-winning Siege of Krishnapur.
Beautiful Mutants, Deborah Levy's feverish allegory of a first novel, introduces a manipulative and magical Russian exile who summons forth a series of grotesques--among them the Poet, the Banker, and the Anorexic Anarchist. Levy explores the anxieties that pervaded the 1980s: exile and emigration, broken dreams, crazed greed and the first seeds of the global financial crisis, self-destructive desires, and the disintegration of culture.
In Swallowing Geography, J. K., like her namesake Jack Kerouac, is always on the road, traveling Europe with her typewriter in a pillowcase. She wanders, meeting friends and strangers, battling her raging mother, and taking in the world through her uniquely irreverent, ironic perspective. Levy blends fairytale with biting satire, pushing at the edges of reality and marveling at where the world collapses in on itself.
In The Unloved, a group of hedonistic tourists--from Algeria, England, Poland, Germany, Italy, France, and America--gathers to celebrate the holidays in a remote French ch teau. Then a woman is brutally murdered, and the sad, eerie child Tatiana declares she knows who did it. The subsequent inquiry into the death, however, proves to be more of an investigation into the nature of identity, love, insatiable rage, and sadistic desire.
Perhaps every novelist harbors a monster at heart, an irrepressible and utterly irresponsible fantasist, not to mention a born and ingenious liar, without which all her art would go for naught. Angel, at any rate, is the story of such a monster. Angelica Deverell lives above her diligent, drab mother's grocery shop in a dreary turn-of-the-century English neighborhood, but spends her days dreaming of handsome Paradise House, where her aunt is enthroned as a maid. But in Angel's imagination, she is the mistress of the house, a realm of lavish opulence, of evening gowns and peacocks. Then she begins to write popular novels, and this fantasy becomes her life. And now that she has tasted success, Angel has no intention of letting anyone stand in her way--except, perhaps, herself.