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THE COMPLETE SHORTER FICTION OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, edited by Susan Dick (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: $16.95).

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March 02, 1986|BETTY ANN KEVLES

As late in her life as 1940, the year before her death, Virginia Woolf had a story rejected. Although Harper's Bazaar had urgently solicited "The Legacy," they never published it.

Now this fragile mystery, along with a mixed assortment of other unpublished and published stories, is available in "The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf." Susan Dick has arranged them in chronological order with appended notes describing their artistic provenance as well as, where possible, their publishing history. Those familiar with Woolf will meet more of the Dalloways' guests, and will discover interesting changes that Woolf made in various versions of some familiar tales. Those reading Woolf for the first time have an opportunity to sample, in stories such as "Kew Gardens" and "A Summing Up," her literary experiments with internal monologues and impressionistic prose. The collection also includes an awkward example of an early effort at historical fiction and more successful effort at examining human life from the point of view of a pet.

"The Complete Fiction" will be useful to Woolf scholars as a summing up of her literary development, and it can serve at the same time as a wonderful introduction to one of the masters of 20th-Century English prose.

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