Archive for May, 2011

I recently read a review of Rachel Cusk’s latest novel, The Bradshaw Variations, in Rain Taxi, a journal of book reviews. The reviewer evokes Woolf in a flattering if tongue-in-cheek comparison:

“What makes it not only Cusk’s best work to date but also one of the most engaging British novels of recent years is the extent to which the author commits to the insipid, the domestic, the mundane. If Virginia Woolf had gone for a jog everyday instead of smoking so much, she might have written The Bradshaw Variations (though this is still strict realism, much more Night and Day than The Waves).”

Cusk, who has written eight novels in 10 years, must be dancing on air, as she has proclaimed Woolf’s influence, particularly in her 2007 Arlington Park. The one-day-novel set in a London suburb was inspired by Mrs. Dalloway.

Now I’m reading the new collection of stories by Julian Barnes, Pulse. Barnes is a witty wordsmith, eloquent at times, egotistical and chest-beating at others. In both regards he reminds me of John Updike. My favorite story in this book is, ironically, “Sleeping with John Updike.” Jane and Alice, middle-aged, moderately successful authors and long-time colleagues and friends, are on a train traveling home from a literary festival at which they both presented.

They are generous with their praise for each other, their work, their recent readings, though “each privately liked the other’s work a little less than they said.” And under the radar they reflect to themselves critically as well on each other’s dress and appearance, mannerisms and morals.

As I was reading this, I started to picture Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield in this scenario. They engaged with each other in much the same way—devoted friends professing mutual admiration, while at the same time snide critics and fierce competitors.

And Updike? It turns out that years ago at a party Alice perched on his knee, and he “twinkled” at her. But she let Jane believe that it had gone further, because “one has one’s pride,” and their sex lives are another area of competitiveness. Hmmm, who shall we cast in Updike’s role in Virginia and Katherine’s story?

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The Essays of Virginia Woolf: 1933-1941, volume six, was published by the Hogarth Press on March 24 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of her death.

Publication of the hardcover volume means that all of Woolf’s essays are available as an entire collection for the first time.

A review of that volume is now posted on The Independent’s website. Written by Michèle Roberts, it describes the volume as “beautifully and expertly edited by Stuart N. Clarke” and praises the intelligence and diversity of this collection of essays.

The Scotsman reviewed the book more than a month ago. Reviewer Jane Shilling praised Woolf’s beautiful writing and her ability to write “tenderly about the humble, the overlooked, the unknown.”

The Irish Times published a review on April 2. In it, author Eve Patten focuses on Woolf’s honing of her essay writing technique.

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Love art? Love Woolf? Love a beach vacation? Visit St. Ives.

Seven years ago, I spent a delectable two days in the Cornwall town where Virginia Woolf spent her summers as a child. I still dream of going back. It truly is a magical place.

Today’s piece in The Daily Mail will give you lots of details about art on display, art lessons, and other sights in St. Ives.

Places to see include:

I also recommend browsing in the local charity shops. At St. Julia’s Hospice Charity Shop, I found treasures ranging from a collection of German hiking staff shields to framed prints of the English countryside to books with full-color photos of English sites — all for a pittance.

For more on St. Ives, read:

Seeing St. Ives and London in Woolf’s time

Spring break on the beach at St. Ives

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My goal is to post a compilation of Woolf sightings every week. But the weeks keep getting longer. This time there are 10 days between the last compilation and this one. Can this be attributed to summer time? I think so.

Scroll down to sighting #16 to read a brief about this year’s 20th Charleston Festival, which runs through May 29.

  1. Facets of Virginia WoolfThe Hindu
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), a widely acclaimed novelist, short-story writer, essayist, feminist, critic and publisher, needs little introduction to students of world literature. Her attitude towards life and literary vision were 
  2. To The RiverFinancial Times
    Although Virginia Woolf – the book’s guiding spirit – drowned here, Laing acknowledges that “such waterways are 10 a penny in these islands”. That doesn’t stop this local river providing an exemplar for all confluences that traverse the British Isles. …
  3. The top 10 books of all timeMinnPost.com
    Virginia Woolf called this Victorian masterpiece and detailed portrait of provincial English life “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.” Martin Amisand Julian Barnes have both cited it as perhaps the greatest novel in the English 
  4. Open thread: What are the great unread books?The Guardian (blog)
    (“I don’t like it” is not a substantial criticism, but it is a good reason not to read it–a better reason than Virginia Woolf’s too-oft-quoted snobby criticism.) The same is true of Gravity’s Rainbow and Infinite Jest and The Recognitions, …
  5. ‘Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man’ by James JoyceTheCelebrityCafe.com
    Like his contemporaries, Virginia Woolf and Henry James, Joyce was committed to portraying the human mind as it is, and in real life, our thought process is often splintered and disjointed, not clean and straightforward the way it’s presented in 
  6. Summer reading: The big listLos Angeles Times
    Also in Sunday’s pages, book critic David L. Ulin remembers his summer reading: Jack Kerouac, Albert Camus, Joan Didion and Kurt Vonnegut. And Jessica Gelt weighs in with a summer reading memory of her own: Virginia Woolf
  7. Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in London cleanedZee News
    Tavistock Square’s other features include a bust of writer Virginia Woolf and a cherry tree commemorating the victims of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. 
  8. NY Public Library turns 100, not just with booksWall Street Journal
    Five hundred people spent the night at the library using a smartphone app to search for artifacts such as the cane found after Virginia Woolf drowned herself and the taxidermied paw of Charles Dickens’ cat. For the centennial gala Monday, LeClerc said 
  9. House of Exile by Evelyn Juers – reviewThe Guardian
    One group of contemporaries in particular – James Joyce, Thomas Mann and Virginia Woolf – suffered a unique apprehension of their generation’s fate. This sombre tableau is the subject of Evelyn Juers’s enthralling book. by Evelyn Juers Juers, ..
  10. Book review: To the River: A Journey beneath the SurfaceScotsman
    But the Ouse will forever be bound up with Virginia Woolf, who drowned herself in its murky waters one cold March day 70 years ago. Laing’s passages about the beauty and precision of Woolf’s prose are echoed in her own use of language for the landscape 
  11. Wish You Were Here: England on Sea by Travis Elborough – reviewThe Guardian
    sceptical to have time to dwell on the misty light, the fading ornamental balustrades, the trim white fences orthe sopping esplanades which have been lyrically evoked by artists such as Virginia Woolf, WH Auden, John Piper and Benjamin Britten. ..
  12. Tavistock Square reopened after £280000 restorationBBC News
    … which funded the cleaning of Gandhi’s stature, also attended. Tavistock Square’s other features include a memorial to conscientious objectors, a bust of Virginia Woolf and a cherry tree commemorating the victims of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Read War and Peace at Tavistock Square.
  13. Nostalgia’s vortex: Why you should just go to your high school reunionNational Post (blog)
    How it was that the potential for friendship had eluded us by virtue of … what? If we really were unchanged, then it was only the empty rivalries of youth that had been the obstacle. Virginia Woolf said that we trade youth for a sense of fellowship.
  14. The girl who cried WoolfIrish Times
    Rather than stay at home and despair, she set off to a river best known for its connection with Virginia Woolf’s suicide in 1941. The outcome is a quasi-confessional meditation-cum-travelogue of immense charm, personal observation and historical fact. 
  15. Exiles from a devastated worldIrish Times
    At one point Nelly finds a parcel containing a new slip that Virginia Woolf had bought in Wertheim department store and lost on the street in the snow while on a visit to Berlin. In a cafe Virginia asks the waiter to bring her a Schwarzwälder tart like ..
  16. Top writers at literary festivalWest Sussex Today
    Charleston was the meeting place of a remarkable group of progressive individuals, including Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey and TS Eliot. Spokeswoman Philippa Rowson said: “The Festival was founded in 1989 
  17. What if it were ‘Mr. Dalloway’? Book covers revisitedLos Angeles Times
    How would Virginia Woolf’s feminist classic “Mrs. Dalloway” change if it were “Mr. Dalloway”? Would it be all about going to work on the day of a party? Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bête” (“Beauty and the Beast”) is transformed to “Le Beau et La Bête 
  18. V V: Michel Montaigne: In defence of the humanBusiness Standard
    His attractions have led writers as diverse as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf and Andre Gide — Frampton’s Cat is a popular introduction to Montaigne’s Essays that should get the serious common reader to look into them. 
  19. 10 of the best books set in LondonThe Guardian
    Mrs Dalloway lives in Westminster and Virginia Woolf brilliantly describes a day in her London life, stepping out on a glorious summer morning, Big Ben striking in the background. “For having lived in Westminster — how many years now? over twenty, 
  20. A deep sense of kinship with Virginia Woolf, Los Angeles Times
    The book was “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf. The extended essay is based on a series of lectures on women and fiction that Woolf gave in 1928 at two women’s colleges at Cambridge University. In examining the lives of female writers, …
  21. Benjamin Rivers’ Sense of SnowTorontoist
    In Mrs. DallowayVirginia Woolf describes a woman’s entire life through the course of events that occur in a single day. In a similar way, Benjamin Rivers’ comic Snow captures a sense of Toronto focusing only on a single street: Queen Street West. 

    The cover of Benjamin Rivers' Snow

  22. Thrifty Flair: Books create character and charmyourhome.ca
    It’s easier to find what you want because Sylvia Plath actually comes before Virginia Woolf on the shelves, but if I really want something and can’t find it locally, I’ll purchase it online from an independent store. Even when you factor in the cost of …
  23. Jason Reed/ReutersThe Atlantic
    Then, as an antidote to law school, I read through Virginia Woolf and George Eliot, with a sense of revelation. But Roth’s voice remains more resonant for me, a reminder that neither ideology nor the bounds of sex and gender need limit empathy, 
  24. Sarah Winman – in her own wordsNew Zealand Herald
    Virginia Woolf: Mrs Dalloway. Ian McEwan: Atonement. Elizabeth Bowan: Death of the Heart. Graham Greene: Brighton Rock. Andrea Levy: Small Island… I could go on! When’s your second international bestseller due? (No pressure…) Luckily, I don’t have
  25. MSO Concludes Season with Afternoon of FavoritesAtlantic Highlands Herald
    His song cycle from the Diary of Virginia Woolf earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1975. Valentino Dances is an orchestral suite from his 1994 opera The Dream of Valentino, about movie star Rudolph Valentino. The suite features accordion and 
  26. VIEWS: A new future for LGBT booksWindy City Times
    I wrote Winter Eyes because back in college, I was profoundly inspired by a scene in Virginia Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out. Someone asks a would-be writer kind of books she wants to write and she says, “I want to write a novel about Silence 
  27. Oslo, August 31stVariety
    After an unsuccessful morning of the Virginia Woolf variety, Anders travels to Oslo for a job interview at a magazine. Arriving early, he has time to visit some acquaintances, starting with his best friend, Thomas (Hans Olav Brenner), with whom he used 
  28. Reblogged from Samuel Pepys by The Morgan: What happened to the diary?Capital New York
    Then there are those who publish their own diaries, like the authors William Burroughs and Anaïs Nin, and those whose diaries were published posthumously, like Virginia Woolf and Tennessee Williams, illuminating their writing processes as well as their ..
  29. Tough Love: Things No One Is Brave Enough to Tell Self-Published AuthorsHuffington Post (blog)
    Even though Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf self-published, the stigma didn’t really lift until very recently. Suddenly self-publishing is no longer just a fall-back position. It can be a first choice. Just be sure you choose to do it for the right 
  30. Oh, the Stuff Those Lions GuardNew York Times
    Also on view are the walking stick of Virginia Woolf’s that her husband found floating in a river four days after she drowned herself and Beethoven’s sketches as he worked on the Scherzo of the “Archduke” Trio. But what ties the library’s research 
  31. Natalee Caple: Resisting bordersNational Post (blog)
    Virginia Woolf famously wrote about how writing and freedom were linked for women because of the dematerial nature of the text. In contrast to painting, sculpting, or (in the present day) filmmaking all the materials necessary to write are cheap and 
  32. Canton resident a voice for young writersFoothills Media Group
    Crowe enjoys reading poetry by Barbara Ras, Jane Hirshfield, Carolyn Forche and WS Merwin, and prose by Edwidge Danticat, Charlotte Bacon, Virginia Woolf and Lydia Davis. Crowe began the mastery of her writing at the Greater Hartford Academy for the
  33. Student thrives in Merced College environment with 4.0 grade point averageMerced Sun-Star
    She once liked reading books by John Steinbeck, and then her affection turned to novelists Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway. “Fictional characters are more real than real people,” she said, laughing, outside the Merced College Library one recent ..
  34. The astronaut who learned how to seeChristian Science Monitor (blog)
    When I visited him at his home in Houston in 1996, he showed me shelves filled with well-worn, annotated books ranging from St. Augustine to Virginia Woolf. When he sat in an evening literature class at the University of Houston, he kept three ...
  35. Wesley Yang Confuses Asian Masculinity With White Male SupremacyColorLines magazine
    We need a Virginia Woolf for all the Asian ladies. And I don’t mean some “let’s all get together and hug Joy Luck Club” kinda of way. Asian women get the double whammy-Asian Female. Bamboo ceiling, my a**. Asian females get the lead ceiling. …
  36. Agincourt Will Be Directed By Michael MannFilmShaft.com
    The film is being developed independently by Luc Roeg, the producer behind the frankly beautiful Virginia Woolf adaptation ‘Othello’, and the script is being penned by Benjamin Ross. If Roeg is smart he’ll bring Cornwell onboard as a consultant for the 
  37. Mental illness, privilege and the myth of ‘success’The Scavenger
    Meanwhile, the mystifying thoughts, habits and behaviours of many creative types who are now deceased (everyone from Winston Churchill to Virginia Woolf) is often ascribed to the work of bipolar disorder in post-mortem diagnoses. …
  38. Library speed-dating event unfolds slowlyTheDay.com
    Caitlin brought “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf, a book she admitted she disliked when she read it in high school. She had borrowed it from the library to see if an older, more mature version of herself might like it better. If you ask me, 

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My little reading nook

While reading several blogs last week, I discovered something many of you probably already know — that the British edition of Country Living magazine is widely available in the U.S.

I headed over to my local Border’s to pick up a copy of the May issue and later spent some weekend time tucked up in my reading nook contemplating my imaginary life in the English countryside.

This Bloomsbury-inspired lampshade is pictured on Page 107 of the May 2011 issue of Country Living.

While there, I discovered a “Bloomsbury lampshade” pictured in the south Somerset home of young couple Chris and Angela Stanford. To be more accurate, I suppose it should really be called a “Bloomsbury-inspired lampshade.”

A quick Google search located an interesting site with lots of Bloomsbury-inspired products, from lampshades to kitchen cupboards. The designer says she carries forward the vision of the Omega Workshops.

Jane Garrity sent me the link to Cressida Bell’s lovely website. As the daughter of Quentin Bell and the granddaughter of Vanessa, Cressida is certainly influenced by Bloomsbury style, but she carries it out in a way that is all her own. I fell in love with her truly unique silk shawls and scarves. A visit to her London studio requires an appointment, but Jane says it is worth it.

And of course, there is always Charleston’s online shop for a limited selection of Bloomsbury goods.

The cover price of an individual issue of Country Living is $7.99, but the less expensive alternative is a subscription via Amazon at $74 for 12 issues. But if you subscribe, be patient. It takes 12 to 16 weeks before your first issue will arrive.

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