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Showing posts from July 10, 2016

woolf and free indirect discourse

Everybody remembers Virginia Woolf’s takedown of Arnold Bennett in Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown. Few remember Bennett’s own takedown of Woolf, which occurred in his review of Jacob’s Room. In that review, Bennett wrote, “I have seldom read a cleverer book than Virginia Woolf, a novel which has made a great stir in a small world. It is packed and bursting with originality, and it is  exquisitely written. But the characters do not vially survive in the mind, because the author has been obsessed by details of originality and cleverness. I regard this book as characteristic of the new novelists who have recently gained the attention of the alert and the curious; and I admit that for myself I cannot yet descry any coming big novelists.” In this rather short passage, the emphasis is on cleverness and originality, while, on a lower note, is the idea that this is a novel from and for a small world. The British have a peculiar aversion to the clever – it is a sort of disease, the kind of over