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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

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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Have we killed the self-sacrificing Angel in the House? If an exhibit by photographer Lanie McNulty is to be believed, the answer is no.

Virginia Woolf advocated for such a death. In “Professions for Women” read to the Women’s Service League in 1931 and published posthumously in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (1942), she wrote that “Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer.”

A woman writer, she believed, had to kill off the respectable Victorian “angel,” popularized by Coventry Patmore in his 1858 poem. The angel, an ideal woman who lives to serve others, particularly males, neglects her own personal needs and certainly never considers herself to have any professional aspirations.

Pandemic forces women into angel roles

McNulty, a New York based photographer and social activist, was inspired by the current pandemic to turn her lens on domestic interiors. In doing so, she produced stunning photographs that depict women at home alone and with children, husbands, parents, and friends.

Created in collaboration with her subjects, McNulty’s photographs starkly expose what the pandemic year has made clearer than ever — that women play an outsized role trying to keep it all together. Her photos make up the exhibit “The Angel in the House.”

McNulty is not the first to make a play on the death of the angel for an artistic purpose. A literary journal titled Killing the Angel (pictured above) launched in 2013 but now appears to be defunct.

Exhibit and book

Now on display at New York’s Planthouse, The Angel in the House opened today and runs through Oct. 23 by appointment.

If you can’t make it to the exhibit, you can buy the book.

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The Last Day of Virginia Woolf. That’s one of the proposed titles for Elfrida Wing’s next novel in English writer William Boyd’s Trio, a romp that takes place on a Brighton film set in 1968.

Elfrida, the director’s wife, is one of three protagonists whose stories are related in alternating chapters of Boyd’s novel.

An alcoholic and ten years past her last success, she was dubbed “the new Virginia Woolf” when her first novel was touted as a modern reworking of Mrs. Dalloway. She’s haunted by Woolf, doesn’t even like her novels, was “underwhelmed” by Mrs. Dalloway.

“She could see no similarity between her spirit, intellect and style as a novelist and Virginia Woolf’s. And that was why she stopped writing, she supposed. It was all Virginia Woolf’s fault.”

A revelation about Woolf’s final day

Then one day, even before her first drink, she has a revelation to write about Woolf’s final day. At a bookstore she asks for a biography and is told there isn’t one, as “Nobody’s much interested in that Bloomsbury set.”

The bookseller mentions A Writer’s Diary, which is out of print, but he tracks down a copy for her. She also buys a pamphlet, Virginia Woolf’s East Sussex, by a local author.

This is before the Woolf revival, before the published diary and letters and Quentin Bell’s biography. Elfrida’s agent is skeptical of the project: “She’s a bit passe, no?” But she’s undeterred.

In Rodmell she walks down the lane to Monks House, “trying to summon up the spirit of Virginia Woolf—and failing.” Peering over the wall from the churchyard, she sees “an ancient man in a beige linen jacket and panama hat deadheading dahlias.”

After he confirms that this was Virginia Woolf’s house, she asks when he came there. When he says “1919,” she says “Ah. You must be Mr. Leonard Woolf.”

She tells him she’s a novelist herself, often compared to Woolf, and wants to write about in Woolf’s final hours.  He bids her good day and stomps back to the house.

At the pub she reads Woolf’s last diary entry, thinks haddock and sausage a disgusting mixture, but she’s inspired: “She would gain a ‘certain hold’ on Virginia Woolf and her last day—and thereby kick-start her own career into life again—by writing it down.”

Making sport of Woolf

Boyd loves to make sport of Virginia Woolf. Rereading To the Lighthouse, Elfrida recalls how much she disliked it, “with its footling detail and its breathy, neurasthenic apprehension of the world, all tingling awareness and high-cheekboned sensitivity.”

When Boyd dissed Woolf in Any Human Heart, he said that it was because he’d taught her and specifically Lighthouse too long. But he considered her diary and letters her best writing, a bias I share.

And so it goes, plots and subplots and overflowing wackiness, a great read to take you out of yourself and the grim present.

Take a look at a YouTube video of Boyd discussing his 2021 novel Trio, which features three people with separate lives and secrets.

I try to push my fiction so far into the real that readers begin to suspect its fictive status. – William Boyd

 

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If you are in the UK, you can travel to the world-renowned Sissinghurst Castle Garden via episode 20 of BBC Two’s “Gardeners’ World.”

Rooftop view of Sissinghurst Gardens

On Aug. 6, British garden designer Adam Frost traveled to Sissinghurst Castle Garden, designed by Vita Sackville-West. He was there to view a new area of the garden inspired by a visit to the Greek island of Delos. You can watch the broadcast online.

But if you are not in the UK, you can still get a look at Sissinghurst through this National Trust video posted on YouTube.

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Bernardine Evaristo

Imagine a different ending to Clarissa Dalloway’s party. That what Bernadine Evaristo did as part of Radio 3’s “The Essay,” which asked five leading writers to pick a novel they love and then write an original piece of fiction imagining what happened to the characters after the story ends.

Man Booker prize winner Evaristo picked Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway for her “Open Endings” podcast submission. She then imagined a different ending for Clarissa’s party.

How to listen

Her 14-minute podcast, “Bernardine Evaristo on Mrs. Dalloway,” first aired on Christmas Eve 2019. But if you missed it, you can still listen to it any of the following three ways:

  • Tune in to Radio 3’s “The Essay” on Aug. 3 at 10:45 p.m. (BST).
  • Listen now on the Radio 3 website.
  • Download the podcast for listening any time.

About the author

Evaristo is not new to radio. Her verse novel The Emperor’s Babe was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013 and her novella Hello Mum was adapted as a BBC Radio 4 play in 2012. In 2015 she wrote and presented a two-part BBC Radio 4 documentary called Fiery Inspiration: Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement.

 

 

 

 

 

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