Archive for May, 2012

One was intentional; the other was serendipity. In his review of my monograph, Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction, for the Bulletin of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, Stephen Barkway noted one of my omissions, Wise Virgin by A.N. Wilson, published in 1982.

As I told Stephen, I’m the first one to acknowledge that my list is far from complete, but I’m always eager to rectify that and continue to amass Woolf references, old and new.

So I read Wise Virgin and found a fascinating story of a father and daughter, overly dependent on each other, who embark on romances that help them to separate and spread their wings. The daughter, 17-year-old Tibba, fantasizes about fictional characters and their authors, especially Woolf and the Bloomsberries. Her hero-worship comes up frequently in references to Woolf’s novels, imaginary conversations with Lytton Strachey, and the poster hanging in her room.

After she meets Piers Peverill, however, she looks back on her earlier behavior as a childish phase. “… the period, aeons since, at least three weeks before, when Virginia Woolf had been all in all to her. She had come to tire of the mannerisms of that genius, and to look about for another. Her heart was ready for a change. She now saw that even an arch-satirist could herself be satirized. One could laugh at The Waves…” Woolf as a rite of passage?

My next book was a complete departure, or so I thought, plucked off the “new fiction” shelf at my local library. Heft, a new novel by Liz Moore that I’d seen blurbed in the New York Times Book Review,  turns out to be the story of two generations as well, in the characters of Arthur Opp, an obese house-bound academic, and Kel Keller, a baseball-obsessed teenager. The quirky characters and offbeat story are reminiscent of Anne Tyler.

Early in the novel Arthur describes his best friend, Marty Stein, whom he met as a graduate student at Columbia: “She was a year ahead of me, perpetually hunched over, scurrying from place to place like a mouse in glasses. It was Marty—expert on the work of Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf; willfully and perhaps exaggeratedly ignorant about much of the rest of the canon—who got me a job at the college that became my home for nearly two decades.” Woolf as pigeonhole character marker!

Now, thanks to a VWoolf Listserv discussion of Roman à clef depictions of Bloomsbury, I’m reading David Garnett’s Aspects of Love.

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Let us glance at English writers as they were a hundred years ago — that may help us to see what we ourselves look like. – “The Leaning Tower”

The Japan-Korea Virginia Woolf Conference 2013, “Reading Woolf in the 21st Century,” will be held at Doshisha University on the Imadegawa Campus in Kyoto, Japan, on March 23, and proposals for papers are being accepted now.

Participation in the conference is free. However, participants submitting papers are required to be members of the Virginia Woolf Society of Japan or the Virginia Woolf Society of Korea.

Proposals for individual papers should be submitted by Aug. 31. Please send 250-word abstracts in English as Word attachments. Do not include your name or other identifying details in your abstract. In your email, please include your name, paper title, institutional affiliation and email address. Submissions should be addressed to the office of the Virginia Woolf Society of Japan at office@vwoolfsociety.jp. Responses will be sent by Oct. 15.

For more information, download the conference flyer.

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As I have said before, if you can visit England to follow in Virginia Woolf’s footsteps, do it. But if you can’t afford the time and money it takes to go across the pond, you can visit Elisa Kay Sparks’ wonderful blog Blooming Woolf instead.

Elisa’s most recent use of the site documents the 12-day trip to England that she and the five students in her Creative Inquiry on Woolf and Place course took this May.

They hit all the Woolf high spots from London to Sussex to Cornwall. And they spent an evening with Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson as well.The blog includes fascinating commentary on the sites they saw and the things they experienced, as well as glorious photos of both.

I was specially interested in how the area around Talland House in St. Ives, Cornwall, has changed since I was there in 2004. And I was heartened to see the latest photos of Cecil and Jean as they enjoyed a leisurely night out in London with Elisa and her students.

Elisa has always shared her work on Woolf online. See Elisa Kay Sparks Home Page, for links to more, including her Modernist London Blog, her Second Life Blog and her Travel Blog.

Now, in addition to Blooming Woolf, she also has a Virginia Woolf board on Pinterest that is definitely worth following. It includes many of her recent England photos. Some of the Monk’s House photos are particularly interesting, as they are either interior shots, which were not permitted when I visited in 2004, or they picture things I did not notice when I was there. One of these (at right) depicts Woolf’s complete set of Shakespeare’s works that was recently returned to Monk’s House. Another shows the WW II bunker just below the terrace at the Sussex home.

Thanks to Anne Fernald for tipping me off to this wonderful resource on Pinterest compiled by Elisa. And thanks to Elisa for sharing her experiences and photos online with all of us.

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This week we share news of a Woolf sighting at a British Library exhibit, Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, which is scheduled through Sept. 25. See #s 22 and 23, as well as the Blogging Woolf Events page for reviews and details.

  1. Poisoned legacy of the Bloomsbury Set: How one woman is haunted by the tragic , Daily Mail

    Angelica Garnett

    Angelica, who died on May 4 aged 93, was the niece of writer Virginia Woolf and the illegitimate daughter of painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. They were all part of a collection of writers, painters and intellectuals called the Bloomsbury Set Read more about Angelica Garnett.

  2. BWW Reviews: BITCHSLAP! at Macha Theatre Sparks with Davis/Crawford Pairing, Broadway World
    This is a fun, fun, fun evening. Don’t expect Long Day’s Journey or Virginia Woolf, but one thing’s for certain: it may be just too, too much entertainment for one’s own good. So, be warned and for reading, a wholehearted … thaaank you!
  3. Saoirse Ronan Finds Feminism in ‘Testament of Youth’, NextMovie (blog)
    “Testament of Youth” launched the young writer into the public eye; even Virginia Woolf was a fan of the book. Brittain’s story was also turned into an award-winning TV mini-series in the ’70s. It’s a great role for the grown-up actress, whose career
  4. Vera’s Testament is young again, Telegraph.co.uk
    One committed early reader, Virginia Woolf, felt forced to stay up all night in order to finish the book, while the reviewer in the New York Times wrote that: “Of all the personal narratives covering the world war period, there can surely have been
  5. Reviewing 120 literary masterpieces, Iran Book News Agency
    The book holds works including William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita and The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas. “Emergence and transformation of novels” a book by
  6. The Forrests: What the papers say, New Zealand Listener
    Haynes can’t resist a Virginia Woolf comparison, either. Finally, some listening for you: BBC Radio 4′s arts discussion show Saturday Review. Skip to 10.50 of the audio stream, try not to flinch too much at the Kiwi accent (not Perkins’s) reading an
  7. Urbane Studies with the Tenderloin Geographic Society: Hyde & O’Farrell, SFist
    Feeling silly that we’d never checked between our books’ legs, but this is not the time or place for Virginia Woolf-style feminism, so maybe it’s best to roll with this one. Good choice, we end up discussing Utopian societies.
  8. Literary classics are not a trash and treasure mix, Sydney Morning Herald
    After all, one of the great advantages of Penguin Modern Classics when it got going in the 1960s was that you could pass from Thomas Mann to Virginia Woolf to Patrick White; you didn’t know if you would like the next work you went on to but you knew
  9. ‘Abdication’: A ho-hum novel of Wallis and Edward, USA TODAY
    is surprising because Nicolson is an established writer of histories (The Perfect Summer) and the descendant of Bloomsbury literary icons Nigel Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West (the poet famous for her passionate affair with writer Virginia Woolf).
  10. Eve — Metro Arts Independents 2012, Aussie Theatre (blog)
    I wish I had known Eve Langley’s story as intimately as I know Virginia Woolf’s before I went to see the third instalment of Metro Arts Independents series. The exquisite Margi Brown Ash gifts her audience an introduction with a beautiful and sensitive
  11. The A303: Highway to the Sun, By Tom Fort, The Independent
    And Virginia Woolf noted in her diary: “The motor car is turning out the joy of our lives. Soon we will look back at our pre-motor days as we do now at our days in the caves.” Stonehenge, satisfyingly, merits a good few pages.
  12. Ten questions on Jane Austen, The Guardian
    Jane Austen’s admirer Virginia Woolf said that “of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness”. It is a brilliant insight. The apparent modesty of Austen’s dramas is only apparent; the minuteness of design is a bravura
  13. Movie review: Juliette Binoche fearless, insights not in erotic ‘Elles’, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
    Ms. Szumowska structures the story somewhat along the lines of Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” as a day in the life of a woman thinking about — and distracted from — her dinner preparations. In fact, the dinner party will end up resembling Edward
  14. Triumphant moments of loss, Financial Times
    Virginia Woolf notoriously suffered from acute depression and even breakdown after finishing novels. According to the psychiatrist Peter Dally, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, when she started work on a novel she tended to be excited,
  15. ‘Farther Away,’ Essays by Jonathan Franzen, New York Times
    There have been exceptions, of course, including Virginia Woolf and DH Lawrence or, in our own day, JM Coetzee and Cynthia Ozick. Most dyed-in-the-wool novelists, however, do not excel at the essay, for good reason: they are wired otherwise.
  16. ‘This Will Be Difficult to Explain,’ by Johanna Skibsrud, New York Times
    In “Cleats,” Virginia Woolf-like ruminations on domesticity meet a Roald Dahlian concern with the uncanny. A suburban mother receives a pair of garden cleats for her 52nd birthday, then walks into her yard, where she gets stuck in the mud.
  17. Can Science Explain Why We Tell Stories?, New Yorker (blog)
    There is not a single reference in Gottschall’s book to such students of the mechanics of storytelling as William Empson, Samuel Johnson, Lionel Trilling, Virginia Woolf, Edmund Wilson, or Randall Jarrell, all of whom brooded long and hard upon stories
  18. Gwendoline Riley: ‘The buck stops here… I’ve got bad blood’, The Guardian
    Her writing has been compared to F Scott Fitzgerald, Carson McCullers, Virginia Woolf and Albert Camus. Riley’s precocity would no doubt be irritating were her talent not so extraordinary. Anne Enright gave Opposed Positions a rave review in the
  19. How England Made the English by Harry Mount – review, The Guardian
    Still, if more people look around them in England this summer and notice what the kerbstones and window-frames are made of, then that can be no bad thing. • Alexandra Harris’s Virginia Woolf is published by Thames & Hudson.
  20. Another LGBT History Lesson: The Beginnings, Care2.com (blog)
    It was the subject of an obscenity trial in the UK — in which EM Forster, Virginia Woolf and James Melville came to Hall’s defense — which resulted in all copies of the novel being ordered destroyed. The judge found that reading the novel would
  21. Sunderland student fights for Sherlock, ITV News
    He also entertained other authors such as Bram Stoker, JM Barrie, and a young Virginia Woolf there. The house itself was a beautiful example of architecture, built in the late 1800’s when not many houses were designed by their occupier.
  22. How UK geography inspired its literature, The Asian Age
    Other highlights include John Lennon’s original draft for In My Life; Virginia Woolf’s childhood newspaper, Hyde Park Gate News; 14th-century manuscript of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and Emily Brontë’s Gondal Poems notebook. Read more about the exhibit on the Events page.
  23. British Library explores UK landscape over millennium, Chicago Tribune
    Virginia Woolf mined her own memories of childhood holiday in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland for “To the Lighthouse” (1927). Exhibition visitors took obvious delight in poring over manuscripts new and old during a recent visit.
  24. Putting our lives on the page, The Guardian
    Bechdel explores their relationship through the fiction of Virginia Woolf and the psychological theories of Donald Winnicott and Alice Miller, but is also highly personal, tracking their problems as far as the breastfeeding process.
  25. Review: Tricky dynamics in Alison Bechdel’s ‘Are You My Mother?’, Los Angeles Times
    Long riffs on Virginia Woolf, on Alice Miller’s “The Drama of the Gifted Child” or the psychologist Donald Winnicott, who first conceptualized the transitional object, only serve to pull us out of the narrative about her mother, which sputters,
  26. “Out” on the Shelves: 26 Graphic Novels for Pride Month 2012, Library Journal
    Look for a rousing, intellectually challenging read folding in Dr. Seuss, psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, Virginia Woolf, Bechdel’s lesbian love life and childhood journals, and her talented mother’s curtailed theater career. See LJ review here,
  27. Alison Bechdel Asks “Are You My Mother?”, Comic Book Resources
    My own narration and the dialogue are all digital, but I do have these extended quotations from other books mostly from Winnicott but also from Virginia Woolf. Those are all hand lettered, very painstakingly. I’m not sure why I did that,
  28. Are You My Mother?, NOW Magazine
    She also addresses the theories of Alice Miller, Adrienne Rich, Sigmund Freud and Virginia Woolf. A dream sequence starts each chapter. Time is spent meta-musing about the challenges of writing the book. Occasionally she succumbs to dense
  29. 5 Things You Need to Know Today, May 17, Patch.com
    Although she’s not as famous as other stream of consciousness writers—like Virginia Woolf—she is credited with being the first to write in the stream style. Her novel Pilgrimmage was 12 volumes long and published over several years.
  30. Tribute to a moral conscience keeper, gulfnews.com
    Cuttingly Greene called him a ‘pebbly eyed theosophist’ for this group — the Bloomsbury set of Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey had little time for Tagore. The Guardian in an article posed this provocative question ‘is his poetry any good’?
  31. ‘Wolf Hall’ shouldn’t be a competitive event, Telegraph.co.uk
    At all costs, she must not come into contact with a novel by Joanne Harris, especially not Chocolat; Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is just as dangerous because of its matchless description of a boeuf-en-daube, and as for Toni Morrison’s Beloved,
  32. Anakana Schofield: Mobile reading, National Post
    Dublin is not immediately or only the city of Joyce for me, but instead the city of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories and Virginia Woolf’s endless diaries, since it was here that in my twenties I walked up and down Baggot Street into town and back to
  33. New PJ Harvey Tracks to Feature in Film, The Silver Tongue
    The film draws from a range of filmmakers and writers – principally Chris Marker, but also Virginia Woolf, Frank O’Hara and others – but aims to touch on themes that are relevant to a wide range of people – where joy comes from, the emotions involved
  34. Winchester’s Hat Fair unveils exciting new events for 2012, Basingstoke Gazette
    Meanwhile, ShadyJane’s Edinburgh Fringe hit show of 2011, Sailing On, comes to a local ladies toilet near you for an evening in the company of Ophelia and Virginia Woolf (tickets from Theatre Royal Winchester on 01962 840440).
  35. Food for thought on sexuality, Asheville Citizen-Times
    Pope Benedict in 1032, Pope John X11, Socrates, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Alexander The Great, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Cole Porter, Eleanor Roosevelt, James Baldwin, Andy Warhol, Herman Melville, Tennessee Williams

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Contradictory Woolf: Selected Papers from the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf is now available in both online and print versions.

Get the details and a PDF of the online version on the Clemson University Digital Press website.

Contradictory Woolf is a collection of 37 essays selected from approximately 200 papers presented at the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, hosted by the University of Glasgow June 9-12, 2011.

The essays explore the theme of contradiction in Woolf’s writing, including her use of the word “but,” in relation to auto/biography, art, philosophy, cognitive science, sexuality, animality, class, mathematics, translation, annotation, poetry and war.

Five  keynote addresses — by Judith Allen, Suzanne Bellamy, Marina Warner, Patricia Waugh and Michael Whitworth — are among the essays collected in this volume. It also includes a preface by Jane Goldman and an introduction by editors Derek Ryan and Stella Bolaki.

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