Hard Cover. London: The Hogarth Press, 1941. 1st Edition. Very Good.
First edition, first printing. One of 6,358 copies. Personal copy of author's sister Vanessa Bell, with her ownership initials "V.B." in blue ink to the front free endpaper. Publisher's bright blue cloth boards, lettered in gilt. Very good, with a slight lean, rubbing to the extremities, toning and light spotting to the spine, bright gilt, clean boards, a hint of spotting to the endpapers, pencil marks to list of works by the author, bright and clean pages. Housed in a custom quarter-leather clamshell box. Kirkpatrick A26a. Between the Acts was the last novel Virginia Woolf wrote, and the first volume to be published posthumously, only a few months after her death in March 1941. In his introductory note, the author's husband, Leonard Woolf, noted that while Virginia had completed the manuscript, she had not yet finished the text's final revision for the printer. In reference to her notorious, meticulous editing style, Leonard stated "She would not… have made any large or material alterations in it, though she would probably have made a good many small corrections or revisions before passing the final proofs." Between the Acts tells the story of a play within a play, set against the backdrop of a small English village in the years leading up to World War II. The text, which represents a rather cynical view of English history, makes the poignant claim that, while everything seems to be constantly changing, humans and their relationships with one another have not really changed much since the beginning of our history. As with much of her writing, the beauty of Between the Acts lies in Woolf's eloquent descriptions more so than in the plot itself. As Hudson Strode wrote in his 1941 review for The New York Times, "the cream…lies between the lines-in the haunting overtones… the best of the show…happens between the acts and immediately before the pageant begins and just after it is over. So the play is not really the thing at all. It is merely the focal point, the hub of the wheel, the peg on which to hang the bright ribbons and dark cords of the author's supersensitive perceptions and illuminated knowledge. It is in her imagery, in her felicitous gift for metaphor, for cadence, for exciting association, in her 'powers of absorption and distillation' that her special genius lies."