Books: Sacred Values

THE LETTERS OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, VOL. VI: 1936-1941 Edited by Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 556 pages; $19.95

"The art of letter writing," Virginia Woolf wrote in 1930, "has now reached a stage, thanks to the penny post and telephone, where it is not dead—that is the last word to apply to it—but so much alive as to be quite unprintable. The best letters of our time are precisely those that can never be published."

How wrong she was, especially in her own case. Granted, she had a point about the stylistic changes since Horace Walpole or, later,...

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