Archive for June 6th, 2011

The first comprehensive, book-length study of Woolf’s intellectual debt to Greece is just out.

Hellenism and Loss in the Work of Virginia Woolf, written by Theodore Koulouris, associate tutor in English studies at the University of Sussex, is available from Ashgate Publishing.

Koulouris studied the Greek Notebook that Woolf kept from 1907-1909, which has gone largely unexamined, to come up with his theories. He argues that Woolf’s Greek studies were central to the elegiac quality of her writing.

The reader’s report suggests that:

this book makes serious and important contributions for Woolf studies, modernist studies, studies in 20th century British literature, feminist and women’s studies, classical studies, and to the history of Modernism. The author very carefully and intelligently theorizes the ways Woolf’s “Greekness” navigated male and female appropriations of British Hellenism and provided her with a means of articulating loss, whether it be loss of a great Hellenic past, of women’s vocality, of immediate family members, of human civilization …In tracing Woolf’s engagement with these topics through her study of Greek language and literature, the author’s brilliant findings are carefully supported and, I think, profound.

Here are some other resources on Woolf and the Greeks that you can access for free online:

  • Anne Fernald explored the topic briefly and less formally on Fernham back in 2005.
  • Matthew Blackall discussed the influence of the Greeks on Woolf in his master’s thesis for DePaul University, “The perfect image of a young man: The influence of greek culture and aesthetics in Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room.”
  • Sybil Oldfield focused on Woolf’s multiple readings of Antigone in “Virginia Woolf and Antigone — Thinking Against the Current.”

Also see Emily Dalgarno’s Virginia Woolf and the Visible World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 219 pp. $54.95.

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