Archive for March, 2008

Virginia Woolf dollVirginia Woolf is the token woman writer marketed as a doll by the Oddfellows Online Store.

The tip came to Blogging Woolf from Cristina, of the Brontë Blog team.

Check out the doll. It’s only $5.99.

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Bloomsbury BallerinaDid Lydia Lopokova serve as inspiration for the character of the Russian princess Sasha in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando?

That was the question that popped into my mind after reading a review in The Guardian of Judith Mackrell’s book, The Bloomsbury Ballerina, which tells the story of modernist ballerina Lydia Lopokova.

The Russian ballerina took London — and the Bloomsbury circle — by storm for the 11 months of her first tour there, beginning in September 1918.

But according to the Guardian article, her sudden flight from the ballet world to take up with a Russian lover in July of 1919 disappointed the Bloomsbury crowd. By the time she returned in 1921, they were no longer enamored of her.

The review says Woolf only once made “significant fictional use” of Lopokova — as the inspiration for Rezia in Mrs. Dalloway.

However, I see another. I am struck by the similarities between the single-minded ballerina Lydia Lopokova and the exciting Muscovite princess, Sasha of Orlando.

Both moved with great grace and energy — Lopokova on the stage and Sasha on the ice. Both were charismatic. Lopokova mesmerized her audiences, and Sasha enchanted Orlando. Both were unconventional, mysterious, adventurous, and well-traveleled. And both had a dangerous side.

Lopokova and Sasha both ran off to Russia after a brief stay in London. And each of them captured the heart of a quintessential Englishman. For Lopokova, it was John Maynard Keynes’s heart, which resulted in a long-lasting marriage. For Sasha, it was Orlando’s, which resulted in heartbreak for the young lord.

All of this just brushes the surface. Feel free to add some strokes of your own — on either side of the issue.

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Orlando at American Conservatory TheaterWords can open our minds, stir our feelings, and touch our souls.

Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, says the words of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway did even more. They cracked the world open for him.

Read the interview.

Speaking of words — Woolf’s, that is — a reviewer credits them with making the barren set of the stage adaptation of “Orlando” both “vivid and fantastical.”

The play, written by Sarah Ruhl, stars American Conservatory Theater’s master’s program students. It is on stage at the Zeum Theater in San Francisco. Read the review in the UC Berkeley student newspaper.

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