Archive for May, 2010

 As a supplement to my previous post about intertextuality and geographical citation in Mrs. Dalloway, how intertextuality is used to portray heroism and the rippling aftereffects of war in Mrs. Dalloway needs to be briefly given further examination. In particular, the relationship between Clarissa and Septimus shall be looked at further.

In Greatness Engendered: George Eliot & Virginia Woolf, Alison Booth argues that Woolf believed women have access to a “secret form of heroism” related to epic life.  Clarissa is, Booth continues, a: “living poem (who) influences moments of deeper communion because (she) is not a great man but many women to many people.  (She) may even extend (her) spirit to the suffering common man, as Woolf speculates in linking Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus Smith (163). 

Suzette Henke argues that Clarissa “embodies the feminine capacity to create, preserve, and sanctify life” (128). Molly Hoff also compares Clarissa to Helen of Troy, noting that Sally Seton at one point commands Peter to take Clarissa away (196). 

Septimus also has some connection to heroes of the epics.  The broken soldier simulates Achilles in the Iliad when he has no taste for food.  In book nine, Achilles also denies himself sustenance to mourn his friends who have died in battle.  In her book Virginia Woolf & The Androgynous Vision, Nancy Topping Bazin also argues that Clarissa and Septimus are linked by Aristotle’s unities of time, place, and action by outside influences like the motor car, airplane, and striking of Big Ben.  Anne Fernald recently pointed out that Septimus’ doctor, arriving at the party late, is the one who breaks the news that Septimus has died.

According to Bazin, Woolf is modifying a technique she got from Joseph Conrad of “representing in different characters the selves of which a total self might be composed” (27).  Woolf discusses this further in Mr. Conrad: A Conversation.

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A belated happy birthday to Mrs. Dalloway. The novel often described as Virginia Woolf’s most accessible turned 85 on May 14 and is still going strong.

The LA Times blog Jacket Copy celebrated that fact with a piece about the book that quotes Woolf scholar, Anne Fernald, who coordinated last year’s Woolf conference, Woolf and the City, held at Fordham University in New York City.

Fernham is on research leave from her teaching position at Fordham and is working on the Cambridge University Press edition of Mrs. Dalloway. She spends some of her time in the Wertheim Study at the New York Public Library and contributed to Approaches to Teaching Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.

Meanwhile, readers still enjoy Mrs. Dalloway, and dramatists continue to take new approaches to the novel. Red Bull Theater will present a new play workshop of Septimus and Clarissa, by Ellen McLaughlin, based on Woolf’s novel, on June 25 and 26 at the Theater at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th St. in New York City.

Read more posts about Mrs. Dalloway.

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Woolf studies and queer studies. Where do they intersect?

That question came up on the VWoolf Listserv a while back, and now a panel has been added to the 2010 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf and the Natural World to provide an opportunity for discussion.

“’Queer Bloomsbury,’ Queer Studies, and Woolf’s Place in Both” will take place as a breakfast discussion Saturday, June 5, 7:30-9 a.m.  in the Banquet Hall at Georgetown College. It will be moderated by Madelyn Detloff and Brenda Helt.

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Reading the SkiesIf you are attending the Woolf conference, June 3-6 at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky., you can plan some of your book purchases in advance, including the latest from Cecil Woolf’s Bloomsbury Heritage Series.

  • A link on the Georgetown College bookstore’s webpage has a list of the books that will be for sale at the conference. You can order them in advance and either pick them up at the bookstore or at the conference center when you arrive.
  • A representative from The Scholar’s Choice will also be there with lots of wonderful books (display copies) and order forms.
  • Pace University Press will have offerings and order forms on hand. 
  • Cecil Woolf Publishers will offer the latest volumes from its Bloomsbury Heritage Series. Among them are:
    • Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction by Alice Lowe
    • Desmond and Molly MacCarthy: Bloomsberries by Todd Avery
    • Leslie Stephen as Mountaineer: ‘Where does Mont Blanc end, and where do I begin?’ by Catherine W. Hollis
    • Virginia Woolf and ‘Dress Mania’: ‘the eternal and insoluble question of clothes’ by Catherine Gregg

Get more details about the 2010 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf and the Natural World.

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Some people don’t like stories written from a dog’s point of view, but I tend to enjoy their whimsical approach to life.

Take Virginia Woolf’s Flush, for example. It’s more than a dog’s story. It’s a literary love story. And it’s a study of a complicated father-daughter relationship somewhat like Woolf’s own.

In it, Woolf also includes allusions to John Ruskin‘s descriptions of Italy, all told from the perspective of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel named Flush.

A couple of years ago, J.F. Englert, author of a series of charming mystery books ostensibly written by a Labrador retriever named Randolph, sent me two, A Dog About Town and A Dog Among Diplomats, in the hopes that I would blog about them. Hoping that I could find a connection between his books and Woolf’s Flush, I thought I would too.

But I haven’t until now. Somehow I needed a third canine narrator to flesh out my little post. I found the missing link when The Guardian wrote a review of a The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan.

Not only does O’Hagan’s book feature a doggie narrator. It also starts out at Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex. There, the narrator, while still a pup, discusses his life with Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. And that little tidbit gave me the hook I needed to write this.

It stretches the imagination to visualize a dog moving from a life with Vanessa and Duncan to a life with Marilyn Monroe, but what the heck. Is that any more of a stretch than a dog who narrates novels?

Such books are a fun read. But for now I think I’ll stick to Randolph, who has a new book out. This one is called A Dog at Sea. Sounds like a perfect summer read.

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