Since its publication in 1919, Virginia Woolf’s second novel has been largely dismissed as “traditional”—but reading the book more closely today shows us just how far-seeing and unconventional it was. On its surface, Night and Day plays with the tropes of Shakespearean comedy: We follow the romantic endeavors of two friends, Katharine Hilbery and Mary Datchet, as love is confessed and rebuffed, partners switched, weddings planned and cancelled, until we finally arrive at two engagements. But these dramas play out against the first steps of the women’s suffrage movement, as women’s role in marriage fitfully started to shift away from charm, subservience, and self-sacrifice and toward equal partnership. Ultimately, Woolf’s novel is a subversive challenge to the male-writer establishment of the Edwardian age—Henry James, E.M. Forster, their forebears and successors—that undercuts the unequal gender dialectic on which their plots depend.
The Virginia Woolf of Night and Day is every bit as brilliant, funny, sharp, and imbued with a deep love of language as in her celebrated later works Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. What makes Night and Day so remarkable is its devotion to “real life.” As bestselling author of Fates and Furies Lauren Groff writes in her introduction, “Virginia Woolf, in pushing outward in this book toward an articulation of a new and better kind of marriage, doesn’t stop for a moment to try to seduce the reader into loving her characters—she is too fixated on breaking new ground and exploring her ideas.”
This edition, beautifully illustrated by Kristen Radtke, celebrates the 200th anniversary of this key work not only of the Woolf canon, but also of the vital history of feminist literature.
“If Woolf was better acquainted with profound sorrow than most, she was also, by some mysterious manifestation of will, better than almost anyone at conveying the pure joy of being alive. The quotidian pleasure of simply being present in the world on an ordinary Tuesday in June. That's one of the reasons we who love her, love her as ardently as we do. She knew how bad it could get. And still, she insisted on simple, imperishable beauty, albeit a beauty haunted by mortality, as beauty always is. Woolf's adoration of the world, her optimism about it, are assertions we can trust, because they come from a writer who has seen the bottom of the bottom. In her books, life persists, grand and gaudy and marvellous; it trumps the depths and discouragements.”
—Michael Cunningham, The Guardian
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is the author of acclaimed works of fiction including Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928) as well as the feminist call to arms, A Room of One’s Own (1929). At the age of 37, Woolf published her second novel, Night and Day (1919). She is remembered as one of the most important modernist writers of the twentieth century.
Lauren Groff is the New York Times bestselling author of three novels, The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia, and Fates and Furies, and the short story collections Delicate Edible Birds and Florida. One of Granta's 2017 Best Young American Novelists, she has been a finalist for the National Book Award (twice), the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Kirkus Prize, and the LA Times Book Prize. Lauren Groff lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and sons.
Kristen Radtke is the author of the graphic nonfiction book Imagine Wanting Only This (Pantheon, 2017). She is the art director and deputy publisher of The Believer magazine. She is at work on a graphic essay collection, Seek You: Essays on American Loneliness, and Terrible Men, a graphic novel, both forthcoming from Pantheon. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Marie Claire, The Atlantic, GQ, The New Yorker’s “Page Turner,” Oxford American, and many other places. Find her on Twitter @kristenradtke.
Virginia Woolf’s wildly imaginative, comic novel was inspired by the life of her lover, Vita Sackville West. This beautiful Macmillan Collector’s Library edition of Orlando is published with the original illustrations and with an introduction by the academic and novelist, Professor Susan Sellers.
Designed to appeal to the booklover, the Macmillan Collector's Library is a series of beautiful gift editions of much loved classic titles. Macmillan Collector's Library are books to love and treasure.