Do you have a historical figure that you cannot get over? For me, that person is Virginia Woolf. I haven’t even read that many of her books–but I love reading books about her.
In high school, I came across her journals–a big thick volume that attracted me instantly. Then I watched and read The Hours by Michael Cunningham and was even more hooked. Two years ago, I finally found those diaries again and finished them.
There’s just something about her–her genius, sure, but also her long struggle with severe mental illness that grabs me. Her ending might be a sad one, but what she did with her life was great, despite the darkness she fought.
While I’ve read Virginia’s point of view, I was very interested to see her world through Leonard’s eyes. He wrote several volumes of autobiography, so I started with 1911-1918–beginning with his marriage. Mr. Woolf does have some interesting things to say about his wife and their life…when he can stay on topic. This man cannot focus at all! I was very frustrated most of the time I was reading this. “Leonard, can we talk about 1911, please? No, 1941…ok…now 1932? Fine. Goddammit back to 1912. Aaaaaaaaaand we’re in Ceylon.” It was very difficult to follow, and combined with his very dull, Victorian style…I cannot fathom reading multiple volumes of this.
I think that I will stick to reading regular biographies of the couple from now on. I’m still very much interested in their life–and I do have a book marked from Vanessa Bell’s perspective–but Leonard Woolf, my man, you should’ve let your wife do the writing.