Virginia Woolf

James King, Author W. W. Norton & Company $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-393-03748-7
In an uncanny, revealing literary biography of enormous riches, King maintains that Virginia Woolf's writing was her attempt to stave off her obsession with death, her self-loathing and the frequent depressions that led to her suicide in 1941. Sexually abused at the age of six by her 18-year-old half-brother, Gerald Duckworth, Woolf was also traumatized by the death of her mother, Julia, when she was just 13. Her lesbian relationships, notably her affair with aristocratic novelist Vita Sackville-West, were a search for a consoling, warm mother substitute, according to King, biographer of William Blake (William Blake) and William Cowper. Woolf's pursuit of a feminist aesthetic based on personal freedom, androgyny and an end to patriarchal power is linked here to her fear and hatred of male domination and intrusiveness. King has unearthed important information about Woolf's mental illness, family, marriage and possible lesbian relationship with her sister Vanessa. He uncovers autobiographical elements in the novels, stories and essays, portraying a complex, daring woman whose writing triumphed radiantly over darkness. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Hardcover - 699 pages - 978-0-241-13063-6
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