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Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

Virginia Woolf would have been 140 today. So today, as we near the end of year two ofVW Diary Vol. 5 the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems fitting to look at the moody diary entry she wrote a day after her fifty-ninth birthday in 1941, when she, Leonard, and the rest of the world were living through year two of the Second World War.

Her diary entry of Sunday, Jan. 26, 1941, shows that despite the difficult state of the world, she slogs on with her work as she battles depression and vows that “[t]his trough of despair shall not, I swear, engulf me.”

She bemoans the solitude and the smallness of her current life at Monk’s House in Rodmell and details her “prescription” for survival:

Sleep & slackness; musing; reading; cooking; cycling; oh & a good hard rather rocky book – p. 355, The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume 5.

Woolf’s words convey pandemic feelings

To me, so much of this entry pertains to our pandemic state in the present day. We work. We battle uncomfortable feelings. We refuse to be engulfed by despair. We see our current lives as smaller — much smaller — than they once were.

But we go on anyway, doing whatever necessary in this “cold hour.” We sleep. We think. We read, we cook, we cycle. We surf, we Google, we Zoom.

We press our noses to the closed door, hoping it will open soon.

Here is Woolf’s diary entry for the day after her 59th birthday in its entirety.

1941

Sunday 26 January

A battle against depression, rejection (by Harper’s of my story & Ellen Terry) routed today (I hope) by clearing out kitchen; by sending the article (a lame one) to N.S.: & by breaking into PH 2 days, I think, of memoir writing.

This trough of despair shall not, I swear, engulf me. The solitude is great. Rodmell life is very small beer. The house is damp. The house is untidy. But there is no alternative. Also days will lengthen. What I need is the old spurt. “Your true life, like mine, is in ideas” Desmond said to me once. But one must remember one cant pump ideas. I begin to dislike introspection. Sleep & slackness; musing; reading; cooking; cycling; oh & a good hard rather rocky book–viz: Herbert Fisher. This is my prescription. We are going to Cambridge for two days. I find myself totting up my friends lives: Helen at Alciston without water; Adrian & Karin; Oliver at Bedford, & adding up rather a higher total of happiness. There’s a lull in the war. 6 nights without raids. But Garvin says the greatest struggle is about to come–say in 3 weeks–& every man, woman dog cat even weevil must girt their arms, their faith–& so on.

Its the cold hour, this, before the lights go up. A few snowdrops in the garden. Yes, I was thinking: we live without a future. Thats whats queer, with our noses pressed to a closed door. Now to write, with a new nib, to Enid Jones (354-355).

Google Doodle in commemoration of Woolf’s 136th birthday

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A photograph of Hitler’s “Black Book,” or “hit-list.”

The DailyMail.co.uk is reporting that historians have “digitized the first full English translation” of Adolf Hitler’s “Black Book,” which contained the names of many British figures whom he planned to have arrested (or killed) if Germany were to take over Britain.

Although there were once around 20,000 copies of the list, according to the Daily Mail, “only two are said to exist today.”

From the Daily Mail article:

Historians have painstakingly researched all 2,820 ‘enemies of the state, traitors and undesirables’ who were ‘marked for punishment or death’ that featured in the Nazi leader’s so-called Black Book.

The result is a comprehensive digitized database that reveals who the wanted citizens were, why they were a threat to the Nazis and what was to become of them.

The list is made up of hundreds of prominent politicians, authors, poets, journalists, actors, scientists, musicians, heads of industry and religious leaders.

EM-Forster

English novelist E.M. Forster was also listed in Hitler’s “Black Book” as an “enemy of the state.”

Both Leonard and Virginia Woolf are on the list. Virginia was classified in Hitler’s list as an “enemy of the state.”Other famous writers on Hitler’s list include:

  • H.G. Wells
  • Vera Brittain
  • E.M. Forster
  • Aldous Huxley

Read the Daily Mail article to see other Brits who were on Hitler’s list and learn more about Hitler’s “Black Book” and SS-Oberführer Walter Schellenberg, the man responsible for compiling the book.

You can also access the list itself, which consists of 144 pages and 2,813 names. Virginia and Leonard are on Page 277.

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Elizabeth F. Evans

Elizabeth Evans

Elizabeth Evans will give a lecture titled “Virginia Woolf’s Airplanes: Air Power and Aerial Views Between the World Wars” at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17 in Technology Building Room 301 at Purdue University North Central. It is free and open to the public.

Evans, assistant teaching professor at the University of Notre Dame, will examine the effects the growing importance of military air power had on British art and literature during the interwar years. Her research focuses specifically on Woolf’s work, specifically Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and The Years (1937).

In a 2013 essay, “Air War, Propaganda, and Woolf’s Anti-Tyrrany Aesthetic,” which appeared in Volume 59, Issue 1 of the journal Modern Fiction Studies, Evans argues that Woolf is both attracted to and troubled by the unique point of view the airplane provides. She admires its aesthetic possibilities but is disturbed by its seemingly inevitable links to warfare.

Evans edited Woolf and the City: Selected Papers from the 19th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf (2010). She is now at work on a book about aerial views in British and Anglophone writing from the early twentieth century to the present.

For more information, contact Dr. Heather Fielding, PNC Assistant Professor of English, at hfieldin@pnc.edu or at 219-785-5327.

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