Monday or Tuesday is a captivating introduction to Virginia Woolf, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. These eight tales by the author of Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse reveal her early experiments in the art of fiction. The stories convey tantalizing glimpses of uncommon yet everyday characters: a ghostly couple reliving their marriage in a haunted house, the members of a feminist society trying to figure out their purpose in life, an aspiring novelist writing the life of a stranger she meets on a train, and the various passersby in London's Kew Gardens on a July day.
With wit, insight, and beautiful prose, Woolf captures the strange and wonderful movements of "an ordinary mind on an ordinary day".
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Clarity and abstraction
- M. L. Humphrey
Not a bad introduction to Virginia Woolf.
This is a tough question because, as with a lot of Modern fiction, the printed word counts for a lot. That said, Klett does her best to bring the text to life. I think this may be a candidate for having the text as a companion while listening. The thread of the narrative is a little hard to follow.
It's not that this book doesn't really have characters but, well, it doesn't exactly have characters. At least, not as the question means.
I'm glad that she lets subtelties be subtleties and doesn't bang anybody over the head with some of the turns of phrase contained herein even when she's reading these passages that sound very much like what you get when you keep pressing the middle button on your predictive text app.
Also, in all honestly, I don't think I would have experienced the end of the collection if it hadn't been an audiobook which is a good thing as the last story is probably the best. Or, at least, my favorite.
It's short enough that it only took two but I don't think this is best absorbed all at once; I think it's best to get into the right state of mind and let the words float on in. Harold Child, in a review of the book quotes Walter Pater in that prose may "aspire to the condition of music" ("although it cannot reach it") which I think is an apt enough analogy.
There are quite a few elegant turns of phrase in here and I think anybody with an interest in the genre would get something out of it. If this style isn't your cup of tea then you might try working back in here catalog to the more straight-forward stuff. If you do like it move forward.
Remember that this book is in the public domain and thus a copy can easily be found online and it may help follow the thread of some of these sentences by reading along. Or you may wish to listen twice.
To save you the trouble of opening the wikipedia page yourself here's the bon mot it has about the title, which is quite nice:
"In her 1919 work Modern Fiction, Virginia Woolf explains her new approach to writing :
"Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday
"This last phrase "the life of Monday or Tuesday", is what Woolf believed to be at the core of fiction; and from it came the title of this, her first short story collection, and the only selection she published herself."
- Nathan Sturdevant