In the first comprehensive study of Virginia Woolf's Common Reader, Katerina Koutsantoni draws on theorists from the fields of sociology, sociolinguistics, philosophy, and literary criticism to investigate the thematic pattern underpinning these books with respect to the persona of the 'common reader'. Though these two volumes are the only ones that Woolf compiled herself, they have seldom been considered as a whole. As a result, what they reveal about Woolf's position with regard to the processes of writing, reading, and critical analysis has not been fully examined. Koutsantoni challenges the critical commonplace that equates Woolf's strategy of self-effacement and personal removal from her works as a necessary compromise that allowed her to achieve authorial recognition in a male-dominated context. Rather, Koutsantoni argues that an investigation of impersonality in Woolf's essays reveals the potential of the genre to function both as a vehicle for the subjective and dialogic expression of the author and reader and as a venue for exploring topics with which the ordinary reader can relate. As she explores and challenges the meaning of impersonality in Woolf's Common Reader, Koutsantoni shows how the related issues of subjectivity, authority, reader-response, intersubjectivity, and dialogism offer useful perspectives from which to examine Woolf's work.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction - conversing with the reader; Why go on with these essays?; We must remain readers; I do not love to be led by the nose ... by authority; To forget one's own sharp, absurd little personality ... and practise anonymity; In all writing, it's the person's own edge that counts; Society is a nest of glass boxes one separate from another; Conclusion - with this odd mix up of public and private I left off; Bibliography; Index.
’I am confident that you will find, through your own reading of Koutsantoni's book, a series of new and exciting ways to engage with The Common Readers.’ Virginia Woolf Bulletin