Archive for February, 2010

I had the best of intentions, but I didn’t give myself enough time. That is why I have not finished my re-read of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.

As a result, I won’t be able to plunge into the Woolf in Winter discussion of the novel led by Clare on Kiss a Cloud. But I can stick my toe in the water. So here it goes.

During the past few days, I worked my way through the early years of Woolf’s six characters: Jinny, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Bernard and Louis.

When I left them last night, all six were on their way home from boarding school for the summer holiday. Each was looking forward to something different. Susan was longing to be back in the country. Jinny was picturing herself as an independent young woman. Louis fancied himself a poet. And so on.

What struck me so far was how beautifully and accurately Woolf captured the minds and moods of children on their way to being grown-ups. The innocence, the complications, the wretched insecurities, the brave dreams, the pleasures and the pains of childhood can all be found in Woolf’s poetic words.

In the novel, Woolf outlines each character. Then she fills in the details in the same way that the pointillist painting provided by Kiss a Cloud does.

From a distance, the dots in a pointillist painting may seem alike. But up close, each one is different. In a similar way, young children may seem alike from a distance. But up close, each one is unique.

Woolf looks at her six children up close. She bends her knees to look at the world from their perspective. She tells their six stories from the shifting vantage points of children on their way to adulthood. She understands the way they think and feel.

What I take away from these first few chapters of The Waves is that despite her own childlessness, Woolf got kids in a way that few adults do. That’s just one more thing to like about her.

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The deadline for the A Room of Her Own Foundation‘s Spring 2010 Orlando Prize is Feb. 28.

Four $1,000 Orlando Prizes for Creative Nonfiction, Short Fiction, Poetry, and Sudden Fiction will be awarded.

The competition is open to women of all nationalities. All applications must be written in English and submitted online. Winners will be announced April 15.

Since its beginning, A Room Of Her Own Foundation has expended $603,204 on behalf of creative women through its $50,000 Gift of Freedom awards, scholarships, retreats, day conferences, public readings, the AROHO Book Club, and its customized Web-based resource center.

AROHO has hosted more than 250 women writers at retreats that feature a world-class faculty, and has sponsored approximately $50,000 in scholarships for women writers to attend its retreats as well as other intensive writing programs.

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

Virginia Woolf will be among 61 writers whose portraits will be part of a National Portrait Gallery exhibit that will tour England, beginning this spring.

The exhibit, called “Writers of Influence: Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling,” will open in Sheffield in April, and will travel to Southampton, Plymouth and Sunderland.

From what I can tell, Woolf’s portrait is one painted by her sister, Vanessa Bell, in 1912.

The exhibition will make the following stops:

  • Museums Sheffield: Graves Gallery from April 17, a move that is generating controversy because it comes right after officials voted to shut down a city library
  • Southampton City Art Gallery from July 23
  • Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery from Oct. 16
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens from Jan. 29, 2011.

Other writers whose portraits are included in the exhibit include William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Enid Blyton, Lewis Carroll, Agatha Christie, John Lennon, JK Rowling, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, punk pioneer Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, David Bowie, Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey, Winehouse and recent Brit Award winner Dizzee Rascal.

As a side note, Woolf’s photographic portrait by George Charles Beresford is among the top 20 best selling post cards sold at the National Portrait Gallery.

Read more about the exhibit.

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Write quickly. You have less than a week to submit your piece on “Woolf and the Natural World” for the Fall 2010 issue of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany.

The Miscellany is seeking articles examining the natural world–gardens, landscapes, animals, ecology, etc.–in Woolf’s life and writing.  Articles addressing teaching Woolf and nature are also welcome.

The theme is the same as that of the 2oth Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, which will be held June 3-5 in Georgetown, Ky.

Articles of no more than 2,500 words should be sent via e-mail attachment to kristin_czarnecki@georgetowncollege.edu.

According to the Miscellany’s Web site, the publication was founded by Dr. J. J. Wilson, now emerita professor of English at Sonoma State University in California. The first issue was published in fall 1973. The publication now resides at Southern Connecticut State University.

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When I first read about Woolf in Winter, I planned to reread all four novels and participate in all the discussions. I regret that I have failed in my mission.

If you are in the same predicament, links to the online discussions we missed are below.

But please note that we still have a chance to redeem ourselves — albeit with one of the most challenging of Virginia Woolf’s novels, The Waves. The online discussion begins a week from today, on Friday, Feb. 23. You can join Clare and other Woolf readers at Kiss a Cloud.

I plan to put Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins aside for the moment and ride The Waves for the next week. Won’t you join us?

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