Night and Day (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Night and Day (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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Night and Day, by Virginia Woolf, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

A long neglected masterpiece, Night and Day reveals Virginia Woolf’s mastery of the traditional English novel. With its classic comic structure, minutely observed characters, and delicate irony, Woolf’s second novel has invited comparison to the works of Shakespeare, Mozart, and Jane Austen.

Set in Edwardian London, Night and Day contrasts the lives of two friends, Katherine Hilbery and Mary Datchet. Katherine is the bored, frustrated granddaughter of an eminent English poet. She lives at her parents’ home and is engaged to a prig who exemplifies the stultifying life from which she wishes to be free, until she meets a possible avenue of escape in the person of Ralph Denham. Mary Datchet, on the other hand, represents an alternative to marriage—she has been to college, lives on her own, and finds fulfillment in working for the women’s rights movement.

As the story dances delightfully among the novel’s brilliantly drawn characters, serious questions about the nature of romance arise. Is love real or illusory? Can love and marriage coexist? Is love necessary for happiness?

Rachel Wetzsteon is Assistant Professor of English at William Paterson University. She has published two books of poems, The Other Stars and Home and Away.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082123
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 03/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 35,704
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.24(d)

About the Author

Virginia Woolf (1882¿1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels. Her best-known books include the novels Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando, and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own.

Date of Birth:

January 25, 1882

Date of Death:

March 28, 1941

Place of Birth:


Place of Death:

Sussex, England


Home schooling

Read an Excerpt

From Rachel Wetzsteon’s Introduction to Night and Day

For even the most ardent devotee of modern literature, the title Night and Day is likely to bring to mind Fred Astaire professing undying love—courtesy of Cole Porter—to Ginger Rogers in the 1934 film The Gay Divorcee, rather than Virginia Woolf’s novel, her second, published in 1919. Since the book appeared, it has been the frequent target of mockery, scorn, and incomprehension—if people have paid attention to it at all. Shortly after its publication, fellow novelist Katherine Mansfield criticized the book’s “aloofness” and “air of quiet perfection,” lamented its indifference to the Great War, and incredulously exclaimed, “a novel in the tradition of the English novel . . . we had never thought to look upon its like again!” Woolf’s friend E. M. Forster wrote of the “normalised and dulled” style of the novel in his short book about her, published a year after her death. Critic D. S. Savage found it the “dullest novel in the English language.” And Woolf herself called it “interminable” and marveled in a 1938 letter to her friend Ottoline Morrell, “I can’t believe any human being can get through Night and Day.”

It is true that readers opening the book expecting the stylistic fireworks and structural innovations of Woolf’s later novels like Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and The Waves (1931) will be sorely disappointed. For at first glance, the plot of Night and Day—a young woman choosing between two suitors—is indeed simple and old-fashioned, the very sort of thing Woolf would take to task in her essays on modern fiction, and its lucid, straightforward style offers only the slenderest hints of what would follow.

So why read Night and Day? Although it is among the most consistently neglected of modern novels, it is also one of the most sadly underrated; and readers willing to set aside their expectations for a “typical” Woolf novel will be rewarded in an almost embarrassing variety of ways. They will see Woolf transfiguring people and events from her own life—her family, her marriage, her involvement in the struggle for women’s equality—into vibrant and compelling fictional form. They will watch as she turns, as Jane Austen had done before her, the “universal truth” that young women need husbands from a stale plot device into an uncertain proposition to be undermined from within. They will take pleasure in her wickedly satirical wit and her vivid descriptions of London crowds, the English countryside, and the burning political issues of the day. They will wait in suspense as she searches for a sustainable modern love, a way for women to possess both husbands and independence. And they will enjoy some of the most richly complex and intriguing characters she ever created.

When Woolf began writing Night and Day in late 1914 or early 1915, she had already published one novel, The Voyage Out (1915), as well as many essays and reviews. But she had been ill for several years, and had succumbed to a major breakdown in the first months of 1915. Work offered her a new kind of “voyage out”; as she poignantly admitted in 1930 to her friend Ethel Smyth, she started a new novel largely to keep herself healthy and distracted:

I was so tremblingly afraid of my own insanity that I wrote Night and Day mainly to prove to my own satisfaction that I could keep entirely off that dangerous ground. I wrote it, lying in bed, allowed to write only for one half hour a day (The Letters of Virginia Woolf, vol. 4, p. 231; see “For Further Reading”).

Initially Woolf intended the novel to be a sweeping study of three generations—the great Victorian poet Richard Alardyce, his daughter Mrs. Hilbery, and her daughter Katharine—but she soon decided to focus more closely on Katharine, her relationship to her family and her courtship by two very different men. Despite a major relapse in February 1916, and her fear (as she confessed to her friend Lytton Strachey) “of finishing a book on this method—I write one sentence—the clock strikes—Leonard appears with a glass of milk,” she made steady progress on the manuscript, and by March 1917 she was “well past 100,000 words.” Night and Day was finished in late 1918 and published by Duckworth the following October.

The novel’s heroine, Katharine Hilbery, has much in common with Woolf, particularly her upbringing in an exceedingly literary household. Woolf’s father, Sir Leslie Stephen (1832–1904), was one of the most distinguished men of letters of the Victorian era, the first editor of the vastly influential Dictionary of National Biography, and the frequent host, at the Stephens’ Kensington residence, to a galaxy of some of the brightest stars in the British cultural firmament. Katharine’s grandfather Richard Alardyce—on whose biography Katharine and her mother labor throughout the novel—is a Victorian of comparable eminence, and the Hilbery house, as the first chapter reveals, remains a place where writers and artists come together for conversation and refreshment. Mr. Hilbery’s literary bent—he edits the fictitious Critical Review—gives him a certain resemblance to Leslie Stephen, but the force of Alardyce’s legacy makes him a closer fictional equivalent.

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Night and Day 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
Nazire More than 1 year ago
Night and Day was the first work of fiction I read by Virginia Woolf and in this book I fell in love with her writing--which encouraged me to read her other famous works such as Orlando and Mrs.Dalloway. In this book Woolf compares and contrasts the lives of two very different woman from their intellectual abilities, their beliefs to their romances which intersects in the same man, causing one initial pain and the other eventual happiness. From that intersection the two women eventually decides on very different lives and paths for themselves. While Katherine Hilbery decides on her love for Ralph Denham and the two presumably have a happy and loving life together, Mary Datchet forgoes love for the rest of her life focusing all of her efforts, attention and time on woman suffrage movements. The language can be difficult at time and sometimes sentences can be paragraphs long. But any determined reader will make to the end due to the intricate plot lines, in-depth focus on characters and different points of views present in regards to women in society. I cherish this book and would recommend it to any 1920's fiction lover, especially to those who adore and admire Virginia Woolf.
bookwoman247 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about love and marriage - how relationships are affected by social mores and perceived obligations. Woolf also asks the bigger questions: What is love? What constitutes marriage? What is necessary for marital happiness? Is marriage necessary for happiness? What is happiness?These are the questions facing Katherine Hilbery, who has been a willing, but bored, drudge, helping her mother with the task of researching her worthy grandfather, a well-known poet and family icon. These are questions also affecting her friends, William Rodney, Mary Datchett, Cassandra Otway, and Ralph Denham.I have loved every one of Woolf's works that I've read so far, and this one is no exception. Her writing rings as clear as a bell, yet every word, every phrase, every object is imbued with layers of meaning.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This early novel from Virginia Woolf is superficially a romantic comedy in the classic "Austen" mode. However, Woolf broaches issues of her time such as the liberation of women and the philosophy of G. E. Moore. Moore, popular with the Bloomsbury crowd, was noted for his 'Principia Ethica' which turned the question of morality from what ought to be done to what is good. With the confusion of sexual revolution and class warfare mixed in with the traditional comedic use of misunderstandings this book, while complicated at times, is a delight. It is a real change of pace from the style that Woolf would turn to in her more mature and famous novels.
Chris_V on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*He was skipping around he had a gun in his hand and in his other hand he had a rock he threw it at people for fun*this is so fun*he said then he realized he was starving so he walked torwards his house*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walks in wearing a fluffy cream sweater and leggings since she was lazy and walks over to Mad and smiles "hello love" she says and kisses him
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The new girl walk in wearing high waisted jeans and a blue and white stripped belly shirt with blue vans and her straight black hair out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She lays on the couch and sighs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The brooding male walked in and glanced around at the people around him. Finding no one he was looking for, he wandered to a bench and sat down with his elbows on his knees. Today, wolfsbane wore a white t-shirt with his usual red and black flannel over it. And as usual, he wore dark colored jeans that sagged slightly as he sat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So, I don't see another one of these people. <p> Harley bounced into the area, her striking blue and red pigtails cascading across her shoulders as her pale skin shimmered with dirt and make up from the moon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The real Joker finally walks back in. "It has been so long!" He sighed smiling
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in looking for Harley. When she sees her she says want to pick on batman?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*strolls in casually*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her completly black eyes scan the area carefully.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She teleports in, looking around through her hood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walked in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She spread her wings and flew across Central City, tying to find peace. [Who watches The Flash/DC Legends Of Tomorrow?]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He watched anti from the top of a building. "Stop!" He calls down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in,With her1 month old daughter Quanty in a stroller and her other 4 year old daughter quantess by her side.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The girl walked in her black hair with red streaks flowing behind her " I should have flown" she said exhausted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walks in wearing a black dress and red jacket (sorry i was really busy