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Moments of Being Paperback – August 23, 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 2 Sub edition (August 23, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: 0156619180
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"One might think, from the heaps of books, that the bones of Bloomsbury had been by now well and truly disinterred...But one would be wrong, for Moments of Being is a real delight" -- Jan Marsh Daily Telegraph "Of fascinating importance, because they are Virginia's only known autobiographical writings" -- John Lehmann Sunday Telegraph "The book must appeal to anyone interested in Virginia Woolf and her circle" -- Derek Parker The Times "Her manner of recall contains all those surprises and felicities of language we have come to expect when she writes, as it were, with her elbows on the table" -- Richard Shone Spectator --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

8 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Customer Reviews

I plan to re-read this book, after I finish Mrs. Dalloway.
Tess Harris
This biographical work is essential in understanding the author's greatest works.
M. Shipley "Instant Karma"
It was a very realistic look at the life of the author in her own words.
M. joad

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
People who have enjoyed Woolf's novels or diaries will surely find her essay "A Sketch of the Past" deeply moving and helpful in illuminating her other works. In "Sketch," the longest essay in this volume, Woolf recounts her earliest childhood memories--both beautiful (hearing the waves break on the shore at her family's summer home) and sinister (her stepbrother's unwelcome sexual advances when she was a small child). She develops a theory about memory and about transcendent experience in this essay. She discusses her powerful drive to reshape and write about the past: "I feel that strong emotion must leave its trace; and it is only a question of discovering how we can get ourselves attached to it, so that we shall be able to live our lives through from the start." In this essay Woolf proposes that in moments of ecstasy we have a meaningful vision of the world itself: "it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we--I mean all human beings--are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words, we are the music; we are the thing itself. And I see this when I have a shock."
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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful By R. Luo on July 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Virginia's genius is all over this volume, esp in A Sketch of the Past. From the first sensations of childhood (waves splashing against the shore) to the tragedy of the death of her mother and sister, it is the most revealing work of creativity ever written. You'll learn about her life, her work, and even how you might become a great writer. Examine the parallels with To the Lighthouse and you'll be amazed. Yes, this is how she come to be what she is; and her life and what she writes.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on January 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Virginia Woolf's Moments of Being is one of the great artifacts of literary modernism -- and it also possesses the virtue of being superbly written; few writers are of the caliber of Woolf when it comes to documenting the subtle nuances of human emotion and thought. Her voice is unwavering and clear; it is analytic and critical without every sacrificing its self-effacing quality and humility - and the clarity of its emotional tone. She handles the pain and loss in her life with a kind of imaginative double barreled shotgun: she destroys those that have inflicted pain on her, while exalting those that loved her. But as she hacks away at one and beatifies the other she always places both in very real, very human terms. There are also sparks of real humor here that cannot be overlooked, like the moment in the essay "Old Bloomsbury" when Lytton Strachey walks into the room and seeing a stain on Vanessa's white dressed pronounces "Semen?" and with one word ushers in the 20th centuries fixation with discussing sexual matters. We are to believe that one word carelessly said becomes the hallmark of an entire century.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. Smith on February 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This collection of autobiographical essays was not published until 1976. They do not supplement the Diaries, but stand on their own as indispensable to an understanding of the novels and thinking of this revolutionary writer. They articulate - as the Diaries do not in an explicit way - her philosophy, and this alone makes the book essentail reading for anyone interested in Woolf or, indeed, modern fiction. But these essays offer more than that. They detail sensitive and at times painful background memories of her death-ridden childhood and adolescence, of the physical abuse by her half-brother, Gerald Duckworth.

To read 'Moments of Being' is not an exercise in the prurient, but to gain an understanding of the inner life of an extraoprdinary artist and human being.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. joad on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book kept me reading from day to night. I really got caught up in the life of Virginia Woolf. It was a very realistic look at the life of the author in her own words. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Shipley "Instant Karma" on July 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This biographical work is essential in understanding the author's greatest works. She discusses "scene making" and how it relates to memory. After reading this I plan to reread "To the Lighthouse" and "Mrs. Dalloway."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Wilkins on January 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Moments of Being is a collection of five autobiographical essays by Virginia Woolf, not intended for publication. Editorial decisions interpreting Woolf's drafts are clearly marked and it appears that few changes were necessary to make the essays feel finished. The editor's comments were somewhat dry and literary enough that they required as much effort to read as the essays themselves, but I appreciated knowing the context in which the essays were written. The editor chose to present the essays in chronological order of their contents, not in the order they were written - a decision which made it much easier to understand the essays.

The first essay in particular (first written as well as first by content) felt choppy to me. It was hard to get into and a challenging enough read that I had trouble thinking about reviewing it because it required so much concentration. This unpleasant first experience with Woolf's writing may have lowered my enjoyment of the entire book, because the rest of the writing was amazing. It felt as though the author herself was more relaxed writing the later essays and it was easier to get into the flow of reading them.

I loved Woolf's writing style, particularly the way she ignored grammatical conventions in order to convey the way each sentence would be spoken. The exclamation points in the middle of sentences made me happy! so much so I might have to try it myself. Yes, that was fun Run on sentences with bits connected only by semicolons were also a common trick which conveyed clearly the cadence of casual conversation.

In terms of the content, Woolf does a great job selecting certain small details of each scene to convey the emotion of the moment to the reader.
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More About the Author

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882-1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.

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