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Posts Tagged ‘Emma Sutton’

Sunday, I published a post about Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s wartime music — and its availability as a Spotify playlist, thanks to Marielle O’Neill. Today, I want to share additional resources related to Virginia Woolf’s musical tastes and their influence on her writing.

  • On the Virginia Woolf Podcast page on the Literature Cambridge website, listen to a 2021 podcast titled “Emma Sutton on Virginia Woolf and Classical Music.” In it, Emma Sutton talks to Woolf scholar and Literature Cambridge lecturer Karina Jakubowicz about Woolf’s fascination with classical music, as well as the importance of music in Woolf’s life and writing. Sutton, professor of English at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, is the author of Virginia Woolf and Classical Music (2013).
  • How Virginia Woolf’s Work Was Shaped by Music” (2021), by Emma Sutton, which is available on The Conversation website.
  • The Virginia Woolf & Music project, which “explores the role of music in the lives and legacies of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group through concerts, research, workshops, public talks, exhibitions and commissions of new works of art.” The UK-based project was founded in 2015 and “embraces the feminist, pacifist and cosmopolitan spirit of the Bloomsbury Group.”

I always think of my books as music before I write them. – Virginia Woolf in a 1940 letter to the violinist Elizabeth Trevelyan

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As it turns out, sound studies in Virginia Woolf is a fairly new field. And in response to a query on9780748637874.cover the VWoolf Listserv, “the ‘sound in Mrs. Dalloway‘ article is yet to be writtten,” according to Anne Fernald, whose Cambridge Edition of the novel will soon be published by Cambridge University Press.

Interestingly, back in 2011, a student in one of Fernald’s classes at Fordham University wrote a blog essay titled “Allerseelen and Mrs. Dalloway,” in which she explores the eponymous street song in the novel.

A book newly published by Edinburgh University Press, Virginia Woolf and Classical Music: Politics, Aesthetics, Form (2013), offers an overview of the young adult Stephens’ exposure to music — from opera to the gramophone. Author Emma Sutton  then follows Woolf into her married life to document her musical tastes and point out how, “To many of Woolf’s early reviewers, the parallels between (contemporary) music and her work were self-evident” (15).

Sutton also provides detailed commentaries on Woolf’s allusions to classical repertoire and composers in her novels and considers the formal influence of music on Woolf’s prose and narrative techniques. And as one Listserv reader pointed out, the bibliography of Sutton’s work would prove an invaluable resource on Woolf and sound.

Respondents to the list also recommended the following resources for a study of Woolf and sound:

  • Crapoulet, Emilie.Virginia Woolf: A Musical Life. No. 50. Price £7.50
  • J. Hillis Miller’s chapter in Fiction and Repetition
  • Anna Snaith’s work on sound in general
  • Cristina Ruotolo on music
  • Rishona Zimring on social dance
  • Also look for stray comments on the backfiring car and music in others’ work
  • Look for more music in the draft version of the novel, reprinted as “The Hours.” Stravinsky is mentioned at the party (341), and Joseph Breitkopf’s favorite song is identified.
  • Pamela Caughie’s scholarship on sound, including her piece in Virginia Woolf in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (2000).
  • Melba Cuddy-Keane’s “Modernist Soundscapes and the Intelligent Ear: An Approach to Narrative Theory through Auditory Perception,” in A Companion to Narrative Theory. Ed. Phelan and Rabinowitz, pub. in 2005. The chapter addresses the “increased auditory awareness” that results from “urban soundscapes” in Woolf’s short fiction and novels; Cuddy-Keane frames her discussion as part of her larger project “to promote the development of a critical methodology and a vocabulary for analyzing narrative representations of sound” (382). Although the essay contains only one page directly addressing MD, it’s very useful for thinking about sound in Woolf’s urban landscapes.
  • Rishona Zimring’s essay about sound in The Years: “Suggestions of Other Worlds: The Art of Sound in The Years.” Woolf Studies Annual 8 (2002).
  • Angela Frattarola’s “Developing an Ear for the Modernist Novel: Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson, and James Joyce” in the Journal of Modern Literature 33.1 (2009).
  • Garrett Stewart’s chapter on The Waves in his Reading Voices
  • “The Modern Auditory I,” by Steven Connor, in Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Renaissance to the Present, ed. by Roy Porter (Routledge 1997). Many writers are discussed, including Joyce and Beckett, but there’s also a short paragraph on Mrs. Dalloway.

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