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Nothing could be more timely than a new edition of Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill which will be out in anthology form on Oct. 25 and include essays on illness from writers across the globe, with cover art by Louisa Albani.

Even in the midst of the current pandemic, illness remains an unpopular theme in literature. But in her essay, On Being Ill Virginia Woolf asks whether illness should not receive more literary attention, taking its place alongside the recurring themes of “love, battle and jealousy.” According to the publishers, this book, On Being Ill, does exactly that.

Thinking about illness

This edition serves as a complement to HetMoet’s 2020 publication of the first Dutch translation of Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill. In this collaborative volume, authors, translators and illustrators have come together from Great Britain, Ireland, the United States and the Netherlands to represent past, present and future thinking about illness.

Noteworthy contributions to this 172-page paperback edition are Deryn Rees-Jones’ preface to Woolf’s essay from 1926 and the introduction to Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals of 1980. Against these, the voices of contemporary authors resonate as they contemplate the interactions between sickness and literature.

Readers are able to begin the book at the end, or might happily start in the middle, as every contribution is a unique, personal piece that offers poignant observations of the world of illness from within.

Book launch Nov. 5, in person and live online

The book launch of this new edition will take place Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. GMT at Perdu Literary Foundation in Amsterdam and will be also be transmitted live online. The event will mainly be in English.

Elte Rauch from Uitgeverij HetMoet will talk about how the book came into being and will introduce the panel members and writers. There will be readings and contributions from Mieke van Zonneveld, Deryn Rees-Jones, Lucia Osborne-Crowely, Nadia de Vries and Jameisha Prescod. Marielle O’Neill from the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain will speak about Woolf’s essay. The evening will be accompanied by music.

Tickets are €7.50. For more information email Elte Raunch: info@uitgeverijhetmoet.nl

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Virginia Woolf scholar Gillian Beer will do an online reading and discussion of her short memoir covering her experiences of being evacuated as a child during WWII. Titled Stations without Signs, the memoir was published this year by Hazel Press.

The one-hour reading via Literature Cambridge will begin at 6 p.m. BT Dec. 5. The cost is £5 and registration is available online.

Gillian Beer lecturing on Virginia Woolf’s The Waves in April as part of Literature Cambridge’s online offerings.

 

 

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It’s nearly time for Woolf Salon No. 13, so read one or more (or none!) of Virginia Woolf’s six short essays included in The London Scene and plan to join Woolf scholars and common readers around the globe for the Sept. 24 Woolf Salon on Zoom.

Details

Hosts: Salon Conspirators
Day: Friday, 24 September 2021
Time: 3 p.m.–5 p.m. ET / Noon –2 p.m  PT / 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Brasilia / 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. BST / 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. CEST

Anyone can join the group, which meets on the third or fourth Friday of each month via Zoom and focuses on a single topic or text. Just contact woolfsalonproject@gmail.com to sign up for the email list and receive the Zoom link.

About The London Scene

Originally published bi-monthly in Good Housekeeping between December 1931 and December 1932, the six essays in The London Scene provide Virginia Woolf’s musings on the street hauntings of which she was most found.

These essays include:

  1. The Docks of London
  2. Oxford Street Tide
  3. Great Men’s Houses
  4. Abbeys and Cathedrals
  5. “This is the House of Commons”
  6. Portrait of a Londoner

Where to find them and how much to read

The essays are available as freestanding collections, published in 2004, 2005, and 2013. They can also instantly be instantly accessed as an e-book. They also appear in Volume 5 of The Essays of Virginia Woolf, edited by Stuart Clarke.

“If you can’t get through all six essays, no problem! Just read what you’re able and join us anyway. It might be best, actually, if folks spend their time focusing on just one or two of the pieces,” said Salon co-organizer Benjamin Hagen, who also serves as president of the International Virginia Woolf Society.

Background on the Salon

The Salon Conspirators — Hagen, Shilo McGiff, Amy Smith, and Drew Shannon — began the Woolf Salon Project in July 2020 to provide opportunities for conversation and conviviality among Woolf-interested scholars, students, and common readers during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Elizabeth Bowen

Literature Cambridge’s season on brilliant women writers of the early twentieth century continues through December, with four more online sessions scheduled.

The Women Writers Season focuses on writers in English, with most based in Britain. It provides the opportunity to discover some wonderful writers who are not read today, and to study them with leading scholars.

Each online study session has a live lecture with a leading scholar and a seminar on Zoom.

Here are the details:

  • Trudi Tate on Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris (1935). Saturday, 18 September 2021, 10 a.m. BT. Please note that this time is different than those of the other sessions. Lit Cambridge hopes to repeat this lecture at 6 p.m. at a later date. Book here.

    Katherine Mansfield portrait by Anne Estelle Rice

  • Claire Davison on Winifred Holtby, Land of Green Ginger. ‘Life’s Adventure’: Winifred Holtby and Post-Suffrage Feminism. Saturday, 23 October 2021, 6 p.m. BT. Book here.
  • Isobel Maddison on Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth Von Arnim: Complementary Cousins. Saturday, 13 November 2021, 6 p.m. BT. Book here.
  • Claire Davison on Katherine Mansfield and the Russians. Saturday, 11 December 2021, 6 p.m. BT. Book here.

Cost

The cost of each session ranges from £26 at full price to £22 for students and members of pertinent societies.

 

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If you are a regular reader of Blogging Woolf, you may have noticed that I have not posted as regularly as usual for the past year or so. I blame the pandemic.

Poster for The Woolf Salon No. 7, “A Room of Your Own Will Not Protect You: Woolf and the Second Wave Feminists”

It has shortened my attention span, sapped my motivation, stifled my creativity, and generally made it difficult for me to focus for very long on anything seemingly unessential for survival.

You may have experienced similar feelings. Or not.

Pandemic-prompted Salon

Luckily, for a number of energetic Virginia Woolf readers and scholars, the pandemic has prompted the creation of something new and innovative for Woolf lovers around the globe, The Woolf Salon.

Ben Hagen, Shilo McGiff, Amy Smith, and Drew Shannon began the project last July. Their goal was to provide regularly scheduled opportunities for conversation among those interested in Woolf.

Anyone can join the group, which meets on the third or fourth Friday of each month via Zoom and focuses on a single topic or text. Just contact woolfsalonproject@gmail.com to sign up for the email list.

Topics have included:

  1. “Imagining Woolfian Criticism”
  2. “The Leaning Tower”
  3. “Kew Gardens” and its recent adaptation in the anthology film London Unplugged
  4. “Planetary Woolf,” which introduced attendees to the forthcoming book collection, Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Global Literature (Edinburgh UP, 2021
  5. “Solid Objects” and “A Society”

Just yesterday, we met to discuss the theme “Stay, This Moment,” with a focus on two readings, Woolf’s essay “The Moment: Summer’s Night” and her story “Slater’s Pins Have No Points.”

The full schedule is available online.

Submit a proposal

Anyone interested in hosting a future salon is invited to submit a proposal. Organizers are particularly interested in featuring the work of early career researchers as well as artists and graduate students. Or a host can choose to focus on one or two short texts.

Why a Salon?

Woolf provides justification for the concept of a literary salon in Orlando (1928), the gender-shifting pseudo-biography that paid tribute to her lover Vita Sackville-West.

She describes her title character’s experiences with the salons she encountered upon her return to England from Turkey in the 18th century.

Nor could she do more as the ship sailed to its anchorage by the London Bridge than glance at coffee-house windows where, on balconies, since the weather was fine, a great number of decent citizens sat at ease, with china dishes in front of them, clay pipes by their sides, while one among them read from a news sheet, and was frequently interrupted by the laughter or the comments of the others? Were these taverns, were these wits, were these poets? . . .‘Addison, Dryden, Pope,’ Orlando repeated as if the words were an incantation. – Orlando 123-4.

Now, the Lady R.’s reception room had the reputation of being the antechamber to the presence room of genius; it was the place where men and women met to swing censers and chant hymns to the bust of genius in a niche in the wall. Sometimes the God himself vouchsafed his presence for a moment. Intellect alone admitted the suppliant, and nothing (so the report ran) was said inside that was not witty. – Orlando 145.

In three hours, such a company must have said the wittiest, the profoundest, the most interesting things in the world. So it would seem indeed. But the fact appears to be that they said nothing. – Orlando 146.

The hostess is our modern Sibyl. She [he] is a witch who lays her [his] guests under a spell. In this house they think themselves happy; in that witty; in a third profound. It is all an illusion (which is nothing against it, for illusions are the most valuable and necessary of all things, and she [he] who can create one is among the world’s greatest benefactors), but as it is notorious that illusions are shattered by conflict with reality, so no real happiness, no real wit, no real profundity are tolerated where the illusion prevails. – Orlando 146.

 

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