Archive for August 3rd, 2011

Anne Fernald posted a message to the VWoolf Listserv directing us to Sarah Funke Butler’s post on The Paris Review website that discusses a letter Woolf wrote to her nephew Julian Bell in 1929.

Patricia Laurence, author of Julian Bell, The Violent Pacifist, a monograph in Cecil Woolf Publishers Bloomsbury Heritage Series, added her insights to the listserv discussion:

“The poem that Woolf refers to in her letter is probably “Chaffinches” published in the Songs for Sixpence Series, 1929, Cambridge. Julian’s early poetry was not marked by `modernist’ or `currency’ in subject, diction, rhythms or metres. His promise in `Chaffinches’ is marked rather by his Hopkinesque description of birds:

Startled, flock after springing flock they rise
With rustle of beating wings as as each flies
The sudden coverts flicker white,
In drooping, jerked finch flight
Of rise and fall: Stray chinking call.

“Nature description and the pastoral came naturally to him in poetry and letters, and when in Paris in 1930, `his first experience of a large town’, made him not a modernist but `fiercely naturalist….sending…[him] to watch all the gulls and sparrows of Paris.” Romanticism (what he viewed as “emotionalism”) and modernism (currency) were anathema to him, and the consciousness of “the chasm in the road’ after the Great War is absent from most of his poetry–though he is of the Auden generation.

“Nevertheless, though he may not have been as talented as others in Bloomsbury, he was not given much encouragement by his family.”

The letter is part of a Virginia Woolf collection currently held by Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc., which features a photo titled Virginia Woolf Goes to the Beach on its home page.

Woolf items are featured in two of Horowitz’s catalogues: The Robert Reedman Collection of Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury and Virginia & Leonard Woolf. The company also offers Vita Sackville-West and T.S. Eliot catalogues.

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