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Contradictory Woolf$
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Derek Ryan and Stella Bolaki

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780983533955

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780983533955.001.0001

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“But something betwixt and between”

“But something betwixt and between”

Roger Fry and the contradictions of biography

(p.82) “But something betwixt and between”
Contradictory Woolf

Amber K. Regis

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the contradictions involved in Virginia Woolf's theorizing of biography as shaped by the experience of writing Roger Fry (1940). More specifically, it shows how Woolf's view of biography becomes increasingly contradictory from “The New Biography” (1927) to “The Art of Biography” (1939). In March 1940, Roger Fry received its first bad review, when Leonard claimed that Woolf employed the “wrong method.” Subsequent critics would accuse Woolf of failure on different and contradictory terms. Catherine Parke, for instance, insists on a return to tradition. Elizabeth Cooley argues that the book is “a peculiar double failure.” This essay considers Woolf's apparent retreat from biographical experiment with respect to Roger Fry, focusing on the evidence and accusations of failure that haunt the biography's critical legacy, and suggests new contexts for reading her method and practice.

Keywords:   biography, Roger Fry, The New Biography, The Art of Biography, contradiction

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