Virginia Woolf is one of those authors I avidly want to read but due to various circumstances I hadn’t really had the opportunity to do so. I have found some of her novels in bookstores or my university library (and I have read only excerpts of her work so far), and despite them seeming undoubtedly enjoyable, I always hesitated picking them up in case I was disappointed or not particularly drawn to their storyline.
‘Selected Short Stories’ is a rather slim book of approximately 100 pages, yet it took me a couple of days to finish it. Her writing style is sublime, and even though I didn’t enjoy all of the stories to the same degree, I felt like I needed a break sometimes between the stories to fully absorb them and what they had to say.
My favourite stories off this collection were The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection and The Duchess and the Jeweller. Some stories, like Solid Objects and The String Quartet, I found rather peculiar, while others like A Society, The Mark on the Wall and A Haunted House were simply brilliant.
What I really liked about all these stories, no matter how enjoyable or not I found them, was the different style each one of them was written in. Woolf seems to be rather apt in experimenting with all these different writing styles, and the result is everything but unnoticeable. I liked how some stories were half a page long, while others occupied almost 15 pages. Woolf also experimented with the voice, producing pieces that were in second-person narration as well as in third. The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection started and finished with the same sentence. It was always a pleasure to discover in what stylistic aspect the next story would differ from the previous one.
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories, and I believe it would be a great introduction to Virginia Woolf and her writing. The actual Introduction that is included in the beginning of the book is also pretty interesting and informative, as it sheds some light on not only the creative process of each story, but also on what Woolf herself thought or said about some of the stories.
“Suppose the looking-glass smashes, the image disappears, and the romantic figure with the green of forest depths all about it is there no longer, but only that shell of a person which is seen by other people – what an airless, shallow, bald, prominent world it becomes!”