For more, read “Everyone Your Favorite Author Slept With, in One Extremely Nerdy Chart” on Arts.Mic
2. “Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and a Case of Anxiety of Influence” in the New Yorker, Sept. 19, 2014.
This essay is generating lively discussion on the VWoolf Listserv, with writers questioning author John Colapinto’s assertion that Woolf’s lighthouse imagery in To the Lighthouse was borrowed from Wharton. As Linda Camarasana put it, “Makes me want to tell him to read ‘Reminiscences’ and ‘A Sketch of the Past.’ Surely he should at least acknowledge Woolf’s youth, trips to St. Ives, the haunting sounds of the waves, Julia’s death, and Stella’s death as the most obvious influences on To the Lighthouse.”
Another dispute is prompted by this line of Colapinto’s: “Though I can find no record of Woolf having read The Age of Innocence, it seems unlikely that she would have failed to read Wharton’s most famous and celebrated book, if for no other reason than she would have been curious about the first novel by a woman to win the Pulitzer.”
According to Stuart N. Clarke, Woolf acknowledged receipt of a copy of The Age of Innocence in an uncollected letter to publishers Messrs Appleton & Co. on 18 Nov 1920. The letter was published in the January 2011 edition of the Virginia Woolf Bulletin. In that issue’s accompanying note, Stephen Barkway discusses Woolf’s published comments on Wharton and Wharton’s irritation.
3. Review of Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut, a fictional biography of E.M. Forster in the Washington Post, Sept. 18, 2014, that includes “lightly fictionalized” accounts of meetings with Virginia and Leonard Woolf.
4. London photos: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway book bench on the Flickfilosopher blog, Sept. 18, 2014. For more, see Close-up views of the Mrs. Dalloway bench and This summer, take a seat on the Mrs. Dalloway bench
5. Professor’s new book explores theories of place in the Bowdoin Orient, Sept. 12, 2014. The People, Place, and Space Reader, a new anthology dedicated to scholars writing about the ways in which people inhabit the space around them, includes an excerpt from A Room of One’s Own.
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My notion is to think of the human beings first and let the abstract ideas take care of themselves. – Virginia Woolf
Woolf is among four British humanists whose quotes will be featured on posters displayed in 100 London Underground stations, beginning this week. The national campaign, “Thought for the Commute,” is being launched by the British Humanist Society.
The campaign will be replicated in cities across the UK. It answers BBC Radio Four’s “Thought for the Day,” which allows only religious contributors.
If you live in the UK, you have 20 more days to watch Alexandra Harris discuss Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway on the Sept. 16 broadcast of the BBC Four program, The Secret Life of Books.
If you live anywhere besides the UK, you are just out of luck, however. Sadly, as a U.S. resident, I couldn’t even watch the three brief video clips on the website. In one, Harris visits Monk’s House and is filmed inside Woolf’s writing Lodge. In another, she talks about Woolf’s creation of a new kind of novel. And in a third, she examines the first draft of Dalloway, then titled The Hours.
In the 30-minute program, produced in partnership with Open University, Harris shows how Woolf produced a newly imagined novel when she wrote MD. Citing original manuscripts, diaries and notebooks, Harris argues that Woolf’s writing process also allowed her to stay sane as she channeled her own mental illness into the character of Septimus Warren Smith.
We all know that Woolf’s works are notably challenging to read and teach because of her unconventional themes and plots, innovative structures, non-traditional narrative forms, historical and literary allusions, and avant-garde techniques.
As a community college teacher of literature, one technique I have found to combat the challenges of teaching Woolf is to review, at the start of each semester, some of the pedagogical guides that help teachers of Woolf bring our students closer to the author, such as Approaches to Teaching Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (2009, edited by Eileen Barrett and Ruth O. Saxton).
But at the start of this fall semester I found myself in a new position in my department and my new office brought new duties, new expectations and new stresses. In my past visions, sitting in my office on my first day as a full-time instructor would feel warm, shiny and successful. I would be hopeful. I would be energetic. I would bring Woolf into every class.
Instead, on the first day of school I sat in the academic room of my own and stared at the photo of Woolf that I taped to my wall and then at the calendar filled with meetings, conferences and due dates. I didn’t feel shiny and hopeful; I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. I didn’t need a new teaching technique this semester. I needed a new inspirational technique.
I chose to not review pedagogical guides on Woolf. Instead, I turned to my past students’ responses to “Kew Gardens”. My students’ positive reactions to Woolf reminded me of why we work so hard to bring her words to readers, to challenge our students with unconventional literature and to stimulate students’ imaginations; of why we sometimes dedicate a whole class to discussing beauty; of why we go home felling like failures when some don’t seem to “get it.”
Reading the reactions my community college students in Las Vegas had upon their first encounter with Woolf revived my passion for teaching this challenging author:
I think Woolf is a beautiful writer. Her work is filled with passion, love, beauty and the depth seems to draw in hungry intelligent minds. I appreciate any writer who challenges her readers to think outside of the mundane society around them and see the beauty in their surroundings. -Erica
Virginia Woolf’s writing is so unconventional and brave. It is admirable that she had the courage to break out of formal conventions. All the while, she managed to capture the assortment of everyday interactions in one short story. -Ian
I quite like Kew Gardens! The unconventional plot and intimate look into each character’s conversations not only makes for an interesting read, but made me ponder as to what one might hear if they were to listen in on any one of my personal conversations at any given time. Additionally, while reading Kew Garden’s I couldn’t help but imagine that the brief glimpses of narration must be something like what God hears as he checks in on our lives. –Sara
Where does your passion for Woolf come from?
In conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit, “Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision,” London’s Morton Hotel is promoting its traditional afternoon tea served in the Library lounge bar, which it bills as being “designed to reflect the spirit of the Bloomsbury Group.”
The tea includes a selection of sandwiches, freshly baked scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, an assortment of cakes and a pot of tea or coffee. The cost is £15 per person.
The Morton Hotel is located in Bloomsbury, a short walk from the Russell Square tube station, at 2 Woburn Place. Call in advance for a reservation at 0207 692 5600.
The Morton also offers Bloomsbury Bedrooms, Charleston Apartments, and an Omega Suite. Rates range from £185 to £405 per night.
Sarah Blake of the Cabinets of Curiosity Theatre Company, will present her interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in two performances on Friday, Sept. 12, at this year’s Ripon International Festival.
The 2:30 performance is sold out, but tickets for the 6:30 p.m. show are still available. Prices are £10 and £5 for students. The venue is Thorpe Prebend House, Ripon.