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To mark the 90th anniversary of the first publication of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Malvern Garden Buildings has created  a writing retreat inspired by Woolf’s writing lodge at Monk’s House in Rodmell for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which runs through May 25.

VW's writing Lodge

Virginia Woolf’s writing lodge at Monk’s House

The shed, which was created with the help of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and Monk’s House, was unveiled by Woolf’s great-niece Cressida Bell on Press Day, May 20.

It is painted a dove grey color and features double French doors opening onto a deck, as does the Monk’s House Lodge.

Inside, the lodge is furnished with a desk in the spirit of Woolf, an armchair with a tray, and a bookcase filled with a set of volumes covered in marbled paper — as was Woolf’s Shakespeare collection. Completing the look are writing paraphernalia and other objects from the 1920s and 1930s.

Once you view Malvern’s creation, I guarantee you will want one for your own back garden. I know I do.

Read more about the project and view photos as well.

A screenshot of the Malvern Garden Buildings Facebook post, as shared by the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain.

Sally Rooney is being touted as the premier millennial writer these days; her new novel, Conversations-with-Friends_-Sally-RooneyNormal People, is garnering rave reviews. I’m still on the library queue for that one, but I just finished Conversations with Friends and was impressed with its intelligence and insights.

I was especially delighted when I came across an early passage in which the protagonist, Frances, is at a party where people are trying to pigeonhole her culturally and politically. I’m lost in the Irish references until someone asks, “Which county do you support in the All Ireland?”

Her reply: “As a woman I have no county.”

Woolf would have loved the sly homage as she would have loved Rooney’s word play and cool take–much like her own–on women and men, life and love. Bridging the gap in time is a mental image of Frances at Mrs. Dalloway’s party.

Review by Tatiana Krasavchenko, Leading Researcher, Institute of Social Sciences Information, Russian Academy of Sciences

Virginia Woolfs Portraits of Russian Writers by Darya Protopopova
Hardcover: 244 pages
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing; 1 edition (April 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1527527530
ISBN-13: 978-1527527539

From learning to read Chekhov in original, to being haunted by Sophia Tolstoy’s attempted suicide – Virginia Woolf’s engagement with Russian literature was as dramatic as it was essential to the modernists in their search for cultural alternatives urgently needed to revitalize traditional forms in British literature and art.

The first part of this new study of Virginia Woolf’s international context follows the daughter of the conservative Victorian Lesley Stephen as she befriends anti-tsarist émigrés, dresses up like a Russian ballerina, and publishes pamphlets on the Soviet Union.

The main part of the book explores her views on the four Russian writers she most admired: Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Turgenev. Woolf’s essays are set side by side with other writings on Russian literature that were familiar to her, including works by Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Katherine Mansfield, T.S. Eliot, Vita Sackville-West, and Edward Garnett.

However, the book does not simply lay out facts about Woolf’s Russian literary encounters. It uses Woolf’s preoccupation with Russian literature as a key to understanding one of the key processes in European culture – the creation of the cultural Other.

Response to Russian art

The book explores Woolf’s interpretations of Russian literature as part of a wider response to Russian art in British culture of the time. It portrays Woolf’s literary and biographical encounters with the Slavonic ‘Other’ in their full socio-cultural significance. The book carefully documents how Woolf used her essays on Russian writers as a platform for expressing her views on fiction, translation, biography, and, most importantly, on what constitutes new realism in literature.

The major difference between this book and the existing studies of Woolf’s response to Russian literature (see, for example, Rebecca Beasley, Russomania: Russian Culture and the Creation of British Modernism, 1881-1922, Oxford University Press, 2017, and Claire Davison, Translation as Collaboration: Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and S.S. Koteliansky, Edinburgh University Press, 2014) is its attempt to place her writings about Russian novelists within a historical context. Woolf was anxious to go beyond seeing Russian literature from the national point of view. She became intensely interested in biographies of Russian writers which showed her how diverse their philosophical and moral positions were, and suggested how impossible it was to unite them under one label of ‘Russianness’. In order to examine Woolf’s dialogue with her contemporaries regarding the national element in literature, this book sets her reviews and essays on the Russians side by side with other modernists’ writings.

The book invites a wider readership with its discussion of the Russian ballet designs familiar to Woolf, paintings by Boris Anrep and Natalia Goncharova, also known to Woolf through her friendship with Anrep, as well as via Roger Fry’s Post-Impressionist exhibitions, and, finally, photographs of Woolf and her Russian friends.

Explores links to Fry and Eliot

Since Roberta Rubenstein’s study Virginia Woolf and the Russian Point of View (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), scholars have made significant discoveries about the importance of continental art and literature to British modernists. Protopopova’s book continues this line of research, linking Woolf’s essays on the Russians to Roger Fry’s interest in Russian Post-Impressionists and T.S. Eliot’s love for Stravinsky and the Ballet Russes.

The book exhibits the full extent of intimacy with which Woolf knew the then newly translated Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Turgenev, as a result of her earnest attempts to read the Russians in original. Quoting from the Russian sources, Protopopova illustrated the precision of Woolf’s remarks on Russian literature, thus allowing her readers to continue their own dialogue with Woolf or, perhaps, challenge Woolf’s vision of Russian authors – the vision she at times adapted to fit her idea of new literary forms.

The book is aimed primarily at academic audiences: modernist scholars, art critics, historians of British cultural exchanges, scholars of Russian literature, and specialists in inter-civilizational studies. It will also appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students of English and Russian literature, as well as a wider circle of admirers of Virginia Woolf and Russian literature.

The English Bookshop in Uppsala, Sweden is celebrating its first ever Dalloway Day June 12.

The day will include a special talk and reading group on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway chaired by literature professor/lecturer Daniel Ogden. Themed cake and tea will be served.

Ticket price: 70 kr (including tea and home made cake). Sign-ups will be taken in the shop, or by email at Uppsalaevents@bookshop.se

The English Bookshop, Uppsala
Svartbäcksgatan 19
S-753 32  Uppsala
Sweden

For more information, please contact Stina at stina@bookshop.se or +4618100510

See more Dalloway Day events.

“Wave” evokes The Waves

The White Book by Han Kang is a sequence of loosely linked personal meditations on life and death and the natural world through the lens of the color white.

In a piece called “Wave,” I was struck by passages such as these:

“In the distance, the surface of the water bulges upward. The winter sea mounts its approach, surging closer in. The wave reaches its greatest possible height and shatters in a spray of white. The shattered water slides back over the sandy shore.”

“Each wave becomes dazzlingly white at the moment of its shattering. Farther out, the tranquil body of water flashes like the scales of innumerable fish. The glittering of multitudes is there. The shifting, stirring, tossing of multitudes. Nothing is eternal.”

I couldn’t help but reflect on The Waves, where in the opening passage, at daybreak:

“As they neared the shore each bar rose, heaped itself, broke and swept a thin veil of white water across the sand. The wave paused, and then drew out again, sighing like a sleeper whose breath comes and goes unconsciously.”

 

So far, here are the #DallowayDay events for this year:

  • On June 12th ‘a Wednesday in mid June’ Persephone Books, 59 Lamb’s Conduit St., London, will hold its annual Mrs. Dalloway Walk. It begins at 11 a.m. in Westminster. Lunch will be at the shop afterwards.
  • Join Waterstones and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain for the third annual celebration of Dalloway Day on Saturday, June 15, this year with the theme of “Queering.” Read more.
  • Italian Virginia Woolf Society Dalloway Day at Biblioteca Salaborsa, Bologna on June 15. Read more.
  • Royal Society of Literature events on Wednesday, June 19, include:
    • Walking with Mrs. Dalloway, 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the National Portrait Gallery
    • For There She Was: Love and Presence in Mrs Dalloway, 4 – 5 p.m., British Library Piazza Pavilion with renowned Woolf scholar Professor Dame Gillian Beer
    • RSL Members’ Book Group: A Room of My Own, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., British Library Knowledge Centre
    • After Woolf,  7– 8:30 p.m., British Library Knowledge Centre. Monica Ali, Olivia Laing and Elif Shafak discuss Woolf’s influence and the challenges of interpolating one of the 20th Century’s most significant writers in works inflected by their own lives.
Cecil at Persephone

Cecil Woolf pauses in front of Persephone Books, Lamb’s Conduit Street, London.

If you want to attend the 29th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, with its theme of Virginia Woolf and Social Justice, today is your last opportunity to register.

Hosted by Mount St. Joseph University, it will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio from June 6-9.

Here are important links for the four-day event.

Questions? Contact  VWoolf2019@msj.edu

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