Tag Archives: the common reader

The Common Reader.. Woolf

“The writer seems constrained, not by his own free will, but by some powerful and unscrupulous tyrant who has him in thrall, to provide a plot, to provide comedy, tragedy, love interest, and air of probability embalming the whole so impeccable that if all his figures are to come to life they would find themselves dressed down to the last button of their coats in the fashion of the hour. The tyrant is obeyed; the novel is done to a turn. But sometimes, more and more often as time goes by, we suspect a momentary doubt, a spasm of rebellion, as the pages fill themselves in the customary way” (149).

Woolf, Virginia. The Common Reader. New York. Hartcourt Inc. 1925. Print.

This applies to many writers who are constrained by their own free will. I feel like the tyrant(s) is censorship along with publishing companies since it limits them to write what they truly desire. They want to see the writers provide plots, comedy, tragedy, love interest etc. into their writing since people who work for the publishing companies assume that is what everyone wants to read. Writers tend to obey the tyrant by pleasing them with these impeccable novels, short stories and poems. Soon after this period of modernism began and we see authors begin to rebel against the typical love interest/tragic/comedy stories and decides to make something filled with tragedy instead of comedy. Authors want to break free from tradition and start writing at their own free will.

The Meaning

“If we tried to formulate our meaning in one word we should say that these three writers are materialists. It is because they are concerned not with the spirit but with the body that they have disappointed us, and left us with the feeling that the sooner English fiction turns its back upon them, as politely as may be, and marches, if only into the desert, the better for its soul”.

Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 149. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.

Who knew that finding the meaning of a book could only be found through the soul of the book? And even so, the author themselves may not even know the true meaning.

Free The Writers

“The writer seems constrained, not by his own free will but by some powerful and unscrupulous tyrant who has him in thrall, to provide a plot, to provide comedy, tragedy, love interest … The tyrant is obeyed; the novel is done to a turn. But sometimes, more and more often as time goes by, we suspect a momentary doubt, a spasm of rebellion, as the pages fill themselves in the customary way. Is life like this? Must novels be like this?”

Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 149. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.

A writer should be able to write based on their own inspirations, experiences, and feelings’ however, instead the readers, the society, and the publishing company are restraining writers from the freedom of their own works. Instead writers are being constrained to write what will entertain the readers and to write what the society allows in literature. Why does writers have to follow a certain standard? Why does society determine what the writer’s can write in their novels? Aren’t writer’s supposed to be the ones with freedom in determining how they want their novel to turn out?