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Archive for the ‘Woolf quote’ Category

At a time when inaccurate information spreads like wildfire via social media, it’s refreshing to learn that a major media outlet is interested in fact checking something as seemingly minor as a literary quote, particularly one attributed to Virginia Woolf.

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life” was the quote attributed to Woolf and shared more than 300 times by a Facebook group called “English literature and Linguistics.”

USA TODAY on the hunt

Then USA TODAY noticed. And reporter Rick Rouan, based in Columbus, Ohio, started checking into it. On his own, he was unable to find a record of Woolf saying or writing those words.

So he contacted a couple of folks in the Woolf community, including Blogging Woolf and Benjamin Hagen, assistant professor of English at the University of South Dakota who is heading up this year’s Woolf conference and serves as president of the International Virginia Woolf Society.

Woolfians join the search

I searched my copy of Major Authors on CD-ROM: Virginia Woolf and found no such statement in Woolf’s work. But Hagen traced it to the 2002 film “The Hours,” which is based on Michael Cunningham’s novel of the same title, inspired by Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway.

The Facebook group that posted the quote Rouan investigated has apparently removed it from its page. Fact-checking information shared online is something USA TODAY does regularly, Rouan told me.

Read more about the hunt for the quote and its origins in “Fact check: Quote attributed to Virginia Woolf was in a movie, not her primary work.”

A collection of memes found in a Google search that include the quote falsely attributed to Woolf

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2018 Virginia Woolf quote winner

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain has released its shortlist of favorite quotes, as submitted by readers as part of #DallowayDay celebrations in June.

Visit the VWSGB Facebook page to vote for your top choice or email your vote to smhall123@yahoo.co.uk.

Last year’s winner was the quote at right from A Room of One’s Own.

  1. As a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world. – Three Guineas
  2. If life has a base that it stands upon, if it is a bowl that one fills and fills and fills – then my bowl without a doubt stands upon this memory … It is of lying half asleep, half awake, in bed in the nursery at St Ives. It is of hearing the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and sending a splash of water over the beach; and then breaking, one two, one two, behind a yellow blind. It is of hearing the blind draw its little acorn across the floor as the wind blew the blind out. It is of lying and hearing this splash and seeing this light, and feeling, it is almost impossible that I should be here, of feeling the purest ecstasy I can conceive. – “A Sketch of the Past”
  3. What is the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark … – To the Lighthouse
  4. It is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex … one must be woman–manly or man-womanly. – A Room of One’s Own
  5. Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death! – The Waves

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Where I live, winter has been mild this year. Until recently, that is. This week we were hit with five inches of snow, frigid temperatures, and high winds. Farther east, it was worse. So when I came across this Woolf quote, it seemed appropriate to post today.IMG_2218

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JornalistEmmaTeitel

Journalist Emma Teitel uses Woolf to critique social media.

Although Woolf lived in a pre-Internet world, one journalist has connected her ideas about artistic and social conformity with contemporary society’s obsession with social media, and the depressive effects of scrolling through photos and updates of others’ curated lives.

The Canadian publication TheStar.com has published an essay by Emma Teitel which uses some of Woolf’s ideas from The Common Reader to describe the, “soul-numbing sensation of too much time spent on social media.”

Teitel writes:

In 1925, English novelist and outcast Virginia Woolf wrote about what happens to a person when she spends her entire life trying to fit in.

‘Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it,’ Woolf wrote in The Common Reader, a collection of essays, ‘and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.’

Woolf Quote--Conform

Woolf’s words from 1925 are as relevant today as they were in her own time, and when applied to social media, her critiques seem to explain the depression many people experience when looking through social media sources. Teitel explains:

…there are no words more precise than ‘dull, callous and indifferent’ to describe the emotional after-effect of scrolling your way into a funk on Facebook and Instagram, where you’ve inwardly begrudged the success and beauty of other people, all the while attempting to make your own appear far greater than it actually is.

KylieJennerSelfie

A selfie of Kylie Jenner, a member of the Kardashian family, who has 58 million followers on Instagram.

Teitel asserts that Woolf’s critical line, “outer show and inward emptiness,” can even be used as the “official tagline” of social media. And perhaps the best lines from Teitel’s article, link Woolf’s writing to Kylie Jenner:

In fact, ‘Outer show and inward emptiness,’ could serve as the medium’s official tagline  not to mention the caption beneath every Twitter selfie of Kylie Jenner.

Is there any aspect of contemporary life to which we can’t apply Woolf’s writings?

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The year 2014 has started off right, with writers citing Virginia Woolf heading into the new year.

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain marked the new year by quoting Woolf’s 1 January 1935 Diary entryVW Diary Vol. 5 on its Facebook page: “I must press a good deal of work in – remembering 53 – 54 – 55 are on me. And how excited I get over my ideas! And there’s people to see.”

A writer for Delaware’s Cape Gazette uses the following famous quote of Woolf’s in a story looking back on 2013 dining experiences: ““One cannot think well, love well or sleep well if one has not dined well.”

And a story in the Tampa Bay Times, “Five things you need to know before ‘Downton Abbey’ returns Sunday,” holds out hope that Woolf will appear in a cameo role during season four of the popular PBS soap opera. But we have heard that her appearance ended up on the cutting room floor.

 

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