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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

BBC Two announced the production of a three-part television drama set over a 40-year period about the Bloomsbury group called, Life In Squares, which will focus on the relationships between Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

The Bloomsbury Group From the BBC:
Life In Squares tells the story of the Bloomsbury group over 40 years, from the death of Queen Victoria to the Second World War, as they attempted to forge a life free from the constraints of the past. Their pursuit of freedom and beauty was always passionate, often impossible and ultimately devastating, yet their legacy is still felt today.”

The series was written by Amanda Coe and will be directed by Simon Kaijser. Production starts this summer.

Other performances of Woolf in the works:

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Fictitious Dishes“When there are fifteen people sitting down to dinner, one cannot keep things waiting for ever.” So starts a passage from To the Lighthouse that accompanies a photograph of a bowl of boeuf en daube—the solid brown chunks of meat accented by shiny black olives and bright orange carrot slices—accompanied by a dish of Brussels sprouts and a glass of claret, served on a green cloth scattered with seashells.

This is just one of the 50 extracts from novels included in Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried (“fried,” really—would I make it up?). The opulence of the elegant tea spread for Rebecca and the cocktail party fare—caviar, smoked salmon and more—to represent The Great Gatsby are balanced by a simple and sumptuous basket of strawberries for Emma and, of course, Proust’s tea and madeleine.

I can’t resist the juxtaposition of food and literature, food in literature, and especially Woolf and food. It was the topic of my paper at the 20th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: “’A Certain Hold on Haddock and Sausage’: Dining Well in Virginia Woolf’s Life and Work,” which was published in the selected papers from that conference.

This collection was a delightful find. There’s a website too, but the book is a visual feast. Do what I did—buy it for a gift but read it first!

 

 

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Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 4.20.42 PMOf all the personal essays I’ve written, the one that’s nearest and dearest to my heart has just been published. It’s about the origin of my going-on-25-years history with Virginia Woolf. More than just a fascination with an author or adoption of a muse or mentor, it was the start of what has become the most fulfilling time of my life, and it led to my own writing.

Pilgrimage is just released at Bloom, a literary site devoted to authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older. Woolf isn’t one of those authors, but I am. The particular call that I responded to was for essays about a book or author that served as inspiration, so it’s fitting all the way around

Two other essays about other aspects of my Woolfian explorations were previously published:

“Elvis Standing By,” the story of our Rodmell connection–other than Virginia Woolf–was  published in Eclectica Magazine in the April/May 2011 issue.

“Cornish Pasty,” the St. Ives chapter, appeared in in Phoebe Journal, Fall 2012.

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One of the best things about the Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf is the warm welcome that seasoned Woolf scholars give to new voices.

Beautiful stained glass decorates the Loyola campus (photo by Kelle Mullineaux)

Beautiful stained glass that decorates the Loyola University campus (Photo by Kelle Mullineaux)

 

As a first-time presenter at the conference, the highlight of my trip to Chicago was meeting many of the scholars whose work I have studied and valued for many years.

Here are a few comments on the event from another first-time attendee:

Kelle Mullineaux from Northern Illinois University presented a talk called “Virginia Woolf: Composition Theorist: How Imagined Audiences Can Wreck a Writer” and had this to say about the conference:

“I loved the location of this year’s conference. Loyola is a gorgeous university, and staying in the dorms made it easy for me to ‘settle in’ and navigate the campus comfortably. In addition, the Woolf conference provided more than just presentations (though the presentations were excellent). I’ve never been to a conference that included a theatrical production or multimedia workshops, but the Woolf conference provided both! The coordinators did an excellent job of showcasing the diverse impact Woolf has had on the arts.”

The Loyola Campus (photo by Kelle Mullineaux)

A waterfront view of the Loyola campus (Photo by Kelle Mullineaux)

Were you a first-time attendee at this year’s Woolf Conference who would like to share your experiences? If so, contact me! Kaylee.Baucom@CSN.edu

More about this year’s Woolf conference:

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There are mysteries to be solved in the world of Woolf. And Virginia Woolf scholars have their magnifying glasses out.

The 24th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Writing the World, held in Chicago June 5-8, was the fifth I’ve attended. And, as always, what struck me most was that, as always, there are new things to learn about Woolf and her contemporaries.

Robyn Byrd of Northern Illinois University, one of the graduate assistants who helped organize the conference.

Robyn Byrd of Northern Illinois University, one of the graduate assistants who helped organize the conference and who was on hand throughout the week.

This time, the new things were steeped in mystery, mysteries that such scholars as Suzanne Bellamy of the University of Sydney, Julie Vandivere of Bloomsburg University, Susan Wegener of Southern Connecticut State University, and Denise Ayo of the University of Notre Dame are busy uncovering.

Mystery number one: Woolf’s sentences

Suzanne Bellamy, a visual artist from Australia, kicked off the mysteries as part of a panel chaired by Judith Allen titled “Propaganda, Codebreakers, and Spies.”

Bellamy, appearing remotely via video and Skype, covered the codebreaker piece of the panel in her discussion of Edith Rickert, a Chaucer scholar who had what Bellamy called “a cypher brain.” Rickert worked as a codebreaker in both world wars. She also supervised a student thesis at the University of Chicago that has prompted Bellamy to do some further sleuthing.

The 1930 thesis, written by Elizabeth McKee and titled “A Study of the Style of Mrs Virginia Woolf with Special Emphasis on her Thought Patterns,” was the first academic piece done on Woolf, as it predates Ruth Gruber‘s 1934 work, Virginia Woolf: The Will to Create as a Woman. McKee’s thesis focused on Woolf’s sentence structure. Without computers, McKee analyzed Woolf’s sentences and worked up complicated graphs that illustrated her findings. According to McKee’s research, Woolf wrote two kinds of sentences: groping sentences searching for clarity and descriptive sentences where every word has meaning.

Suzanne Bellamy via Skype with Judith Allen and Patrizia Muscogiuri

Suzanne Bellamy via Skype with Judith Allen and Patrizia Muscogiuri

Once Bellamy discovered McKee’s work, she was intrigued by the connections it helped her make between code breaking, sentence structure and modernism. But she remains mystified by the lack of available information about what McKee did after she graduated from the University of Chicago in 1930.

Bellamy continues to investigate that mystery so she can flesh out McKee’s story for her doctoral work on early textual readings of Woolf. In it, she focuses on McKee’s work and the work of three other early Woolf scholars, two Americans and two Australians.

Mystery number two: Pepita’s origins

I can’t even brush the surface of the complicated story of paternity, deception, inheritance and intrigue that Julie Vandivere presented in a panel on “Vita, Pepita and Orlando.” Vandivere took on Pepita de Oliva, grandmother of Vita Sackville-West and the subject of Vita’s book, Pepita.

In her research, Vandivere works to uncover the marital history of Pepita and the true heir to Knole House and the Sackville fortune. Along the way, documents turned up missing — destroyed or stolen by Pepita or the Sackville-Wests — no one knows, or at least, I don’t. As a result, the true story is missing as well. But Vandivere, using her language skills as a comparative literature specialist, continues working to track them down.

Mystery number three: Woolf’s anti-Semitism

Banuta Rubess of the University of Toronto presents "You're Invited: Performing 'Mrs. Dalloway'."

Banuta Rubess of the University of Toronto presents “You’re Invited: Performing ‘Mrs. Dalloway’.”

In her private writings, Woolf revealed her anti-Semitic feelings. But were her anti-Semitic scenes in The Years more of the same? Or did she purposefully create them to make her readers aware of their own biases at a time when fascism and tyranny were abroad and at home?

Susan Wegener worked to unravel that mystery in her paper, “Processing Prejudice: Writing Woolf’s Jewish World.” By doing a close reading of key scenes in The Years  traditionally seen as anti-Semitic, Wegeman argued that Woolf  created those scenes to reveal stereotypical anti-Semitism.

By the time the novel was published in 1938, Wegener maintained, Woolf was already defining herself by her husband Leaonard’s Jewishness. As a result, she said, “Woolf was aware of her racial biases and processed them in her text.”

Mystery number four: Woolf’s edits

Denise Ayo teased out a mystery with a similar feel in her paper, “Staging (Self-)Censorship: Virginia Woolf’s `Women Must Weep.’” In it, she compared the chopped-up version of Three Guineas that appeared in the May and June 1938 issues of the Atlantic Monthly under the title “Women Must Weep — Or Unite Against War” to the actual text from which they derived.

Denise Ayo

Denise Ayo

She noted that the Atlantic Monthly version is not just an excerpt of Three Guineas. Nor is it a condensation or summary of sorts. Instead, it leaves out material without using ellipsis and includes text that is not in the published version. Its prose is fragmented, leaving words and thoughts hanging.  It contains contradictory meanings. And its organizational structure is disjointed.

So was Woolf temporarily off her mark when she sent her piece to the Atlantic? Did she wearily submit to a bad edit job? Or, once again, was the hash that is “Women Must Weep” done for a purpose?

Ayo argued for the latter. In Three Guineas Woolf complained that journalism was a “mincing machine,” so in her Atlantic piece she did the mincing herself to make a point, Ayo maintained.

According to her, “Woolf meant to communicate to Atlantic Monthly readers that the integrity of her message had been corrupted” by periodical culture that cannot accept a feminist pacifist approach to the world.

No mystery about the depth, breadth of the conference

The conference, sponsored by Loyola and Northern Illinois universities, and attended by more than 200 common readers, students, faculty and independent scholars from around the world, boasted about 63 sessions.

Conference organizers and their graduate assistants: Sarah Polen, Diana Swanson, Pamela Caughie and Katie Dyson.

Conference organizers and their graduate assistants: Sarah Polen, Diana Swanson, Pamela Caughie and Katie Dyson.

That doesn’t include special events — such as a performance of Sara Ruhl’s Orlando pulled off by students after just three weeks of rehearsals — or “Performing Woolf: ‘A Mark on the Wall’” by Adrianne Krstansky of Brandeis and Abigail Killeen of Bowdoin College.

The conference also included a thought-provoking keynote roundtable discussion on Woolf and violence with Mark Hussey of Pace, Ashley Foster of CUNY, Sarah Cole of Columbia, Christine Froula of Northwestern, and Jean Mills of John Jay College and keynotes by Maud Ellman of the University of Chicago and Tuzyline Allan of Baruch College.

The Virginia Woolf Players line up to read Woolf.

The Virginia Woolf Players line up to read Woolf.

The social finale for most conference participants was the Saturday night banquet, preceded by drinks and appetizers in the Mundelein Hall Courtyard and topped off by the traditional readings of favorite Woolf passages by the Virginia Woolf Players.

Stalwarts stayed on for Saturday morning sessions before packing up and heading out to home countries ranging from the UK to Japan.

More conference links

 

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Laura McBride is the author of the recently published novel, We Are Called to Rise, which is being celebrated as a “universal story about the messy wonders of community.”

McBride recently wrote as a guest blogger on Read Her Like an Open Book where she recounted the “magical year” she spent with Virginia Woolf while writing her senior thesis at Yale University: “…I spent many months, steeped in Virginia Woolf – her life and temperament so different from my own – with no particular expectations and no particular knowledge. It was magical. I don’t know how much I remember from that reading – I have that sort of mind – but I did eventually write a brutally long (for the reader, that is) essay on The Waves. No evidence of it exists – thankfully – but I vaguely remember an experimental beginning in stream-of-consciousness style. Ouch.

“It seems to me that I often don’t know when I am in the middle of an extraordinary moment, when I am doing something I will never do again, and those months reading Virginia Woolf and talking about it with Hillis Miller, in that way, in that delightfully casual way, was such a moment.”

To read McBride’s entire post, please click here.

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Originally posted on SuchFriends Blog:

In England…

…in Sussex, Leonard Woolf, 33, is going on a speaking trip to Birmingham on behalf of the socialist Fabian Society. He is particularly worried about leaving his wife, Virginia, 32, on her own at their home, Asham. They’ve been married less than two years, and she has been quite ill for a lot of that time. Before he leaves they negotiate a strict schedule for her to follow in his absence.

In London, publisher Grant Richards brings out the first edition of Dubliners by James Joyce, 32. The same publisher had turned down the collection of 15 short stories a decade earlier, but this time is persuaded by American poet Ezra Pound, 28, who is serializing Joyce’s novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in his magazine The Egoist.

First edition of James Joyce's Dubliners

First edition of James Joyce’s Dubliners

The United Kingdom is debating the pros…

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Originally posted on SuchFriends Blog:

Vanessa Bell, about to turn 35, is in Paris for the opening of a new staging of Twelfth Night [La Nuit des Rois], by Jacques Copeau, also 34, with costumes by her fellow Bloomsbury painter Duncan Grant, 29. Her husband, art critic Clive Bell, 33, is also along for the trip. The visiting Bloomsberries take advantage of the opportunity to see the art collection of American ex-patriates Michael, 49, and Sarah Stein, 43, at their flat on rue Madame. In turn they introduce the Brits to Henri Matisse, 44.

Michael’s sister, Gertrude Stein, 40, takes Duncan to meet her favourite of the Paris artists, Pablo Picasso, 32, in his studio. Duncan notices that the Spaniard is experimenting with papier-colle, and volunteers to bring him some wallpaper rolls he has found in his hotel room, altho Picasso protests that this amounts to stealing.

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The Sissinghurst view of World War II

Originally posted on T. Thurai's Blog:

A window on the world: a detail from Sissinghurst gardens

A window on the world: a detail from Sissinghurst gardens

I recently read a Tweet from a bookseller which asked readers if they had adopted a book recently. It was one of those simple, but leading questions that started me thinking.  Yes, I thought. I have ‘adopted’ quite a few literary strays – most discovered lurking on the shelves of second-hand shops.
Yet these have turned out to be some of the most fruitful and interesting reads – particularly for an omnivore like me who is constantly searching for new sources of information for my own writing.
My latest acquisition is ‘Diaries and Letters 1939 – 1945‘ by Harold Nicolson who formed one half of the creative – and somewhat eccentric – marriage with Vita Sackville-West.
This has proved a rich source of insights as Nicolson served in the Ministry of Information and so got to observe the workings of…

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Woolf Works ballet coming next summer

Virginia Woolf broke the rules of narrative fiction. So it is fitting that a ballet based on her work will breakorlando the rules of narrative ballet.

Woolf Works, a dance piece based on Woolf’s life as well as three of her novels – Orlando, The Waves and Mrs. Dalloway – - will premiere in summer 2015 at the Royal Opera House, London, as the centerpiece of the new season. It will be choreographed by Wayne McGregor.

McGregor said Woolf’s writing, which lends itself to breaking rules, will allow him to mash up, splice and go backward and forward in time to give the audience “a different way of experiencing ballet.”

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