Night and Day, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


An immaculately-observed social comedy that explores the boundaries between personal freedom and the demands of love, the Penguin Classics edition of Virginia Woolf's Night and Day is edited with an introduction and notes by Julia Briggs.Katharine Hilbery is beautiful and privileged, but uncertain of her future.

She must choose between becoming engaged to the oddly prosaic poet William Rodney, and her dangerous attraction to the passionate Ralph Denham.

As she struggles to decide, the lives of two other women - women's rights activist Mary Datchet and Katharine's mother, Margaret, struggling to weave together the documents, events and memories of her own father's life into a biography - impinge on hers with unexpected and intriguing consequences.

Virginia Woolf's delicate second novel is both a love story and a social comedy, yet it also subtly undermines these traditions, questioning a woman's role and the very nature of experience.This edition of Night and Day includes a detailed introduction by Julia Briggs, which considers the key themes of the novel and its place in the tradition of social comedy, a map of central London of the period and notes.Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is regarded as a major 20th century author, a great novelist and essayist, and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and modernist. and became the centre of 'The Bloomsbury Group'. This informal collective of artists and writers which included Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture.

Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from Mrs Dalloway (1925) to the poetic and highly experimental novel The Waves (1931).

She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography, including the playfully subversive Orlando (1928) and A Room of One's Own (1929) a passionate feminist essay.


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Virginia Woolf's second novel that deals with two female friends Katherine and Mary, one the grand-daughter of a great poet and the other devoted to the burgeoning Woman's Movement. Enjoyable but a bit stolid.

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Oh Virginia Woolf, there is so much to say but will be left unsaid because that’s how things seem to work in your world. Things left unsaid.<br/><br/>For that seems to be how it is in Night and Day. In this London society where cupid’s arrows seem to have flown haphazardly. For Mary loves Ralph who loves Katherine who doesn’t love William who might love Cassandra and not Katherine (his fiancée).<br/><br/>And signals are crossed or missed entirely. And hands are wrung, sighs are sighed, walks are walked and lots of tea is made.<br/><br/>Things sort themselves out eventually and all seems fine and dandy except that there is an odd number in this equation. And that is poor Mary, who devotes her life to causes and who sort of becomes the reluctant counselor to all these lovelorn folks. Of course she herself is caught up in this love-line (so not a triangle or even a square or a circle because no one seems to love her back….awwww!) so she is the maker of tea and her flat the convenient drop-in place for the lovelorn and the confused. It is hard not to like her (especially her family and their amusing initial shyness with Ralph) and I just wish she were treated better.<br/><br/>As for Katherine, I was quite determined to boo and hiss at her, since I’m on Mary’s side and all that. But Woolf sneaks in these bits about how K has this secret love. An unspeakable atrocity as she is the granddaughter of some famous (now deceased) poet (who has a kind of cult status that has visitors calling at the house to see his writing desk and manuscripts).<br/><br/>"When she was rid of the pretense of paper and pen, phrase-making and biography, she turned her attention in a more legitimate direction, though, strangely enough, she would rather have confessed her wildest dreams of hurricane and prairie than the fact that, upstairs, alone in her room, she rose early in the morning or sat up late at night to…work at mathematics."<br/><br/>Yes, a secret love for mathematics. That makes me want to forgive all her faults – and she has many. But it is hard because of Mary and her fondness for Ralph, who’s in love with Katherine. And Katherine is one who believes that love should be:<br/><br/>“Splendid as the waters that drop with resounding thunder from high ledges of rock, and plunge downwards into the blue depths of night, was the presence of love she dream, drawing into it every drop of the force of life, and dashing them all asunder in the superb catastrophe in which everything was surrendered, and nothing might be reclaimed. The man too, was some magnanimous hero, riding a great horse by the shore of the sea. They rode through forests together, they galloped the rim of the sea."<br/><br/>As for the male characters, I didn’t think much of them. William is written as too silly and pompous a character. And Ralph too angsty.<br/><br/>"At one moment he exulted in the thought that Mary loved him; at the next, it seemed that he was without feeling for her; her love was repulsive to him. Now he felt urged to marry her at once; now to disappear and never see her again."<br/><br/>Night and Day might not be one of Woolf’s more lauded books but it was quite a treat to read.<br/>

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