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Archive for December, 2009

News blogs and Web sites are busy publishing ruminations about books and writing. Here are links to a few with connections to my favorite author. Virginia Woolf, of course.

  • In the Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Stott names Woolf’s Orlando as number two in a list of the top five works of historical fiction.
  • A Seattle Post-Intelligencer reader blog, written by a local librarian named Ann G., is “Looking back at reading by the decade.” In the post, Ann picks her favorite book by decade. For the 1930s, her choice is The Years. The novel, Woolf’s last published in her lifetime, was praised by the New York Times as her “richest novel” when it came out in 1937. It became a best seller in the United States that year. As a result, Woolf was featured on the April 12, 1937, cover of Time magazine. The cover story compared Woolf to Margaret Mitchell, whose Gone With the Wind was a 1936 best seller.
  • In an ode to diaries on The Guardian’s Web site, writer Gyles Brandreth pays homage to an edited volume of Woolf’s diary entries. Brandreth praises the volume, titled A Moment’s Liberty: The Shorter Diary of Virginia Woolf, for including “a gem on every page.” Anne Olivier Bell is the editor.
  • Margaret Drabble opines about the unique genre of the short story on The Guardian Web site. In her piece, she says Woolf tried to emulate her rival Katherine Mansfield’s short story style. But Drabble finds Woolf’s style “less accomplished, and sometimes embarrassingly whimsical.”
  • The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2009 includes at least two by authors who read Woolf. They include
    • Family Album by Penelope Lively, whose City of the Mind is clearly influenced by Mrs. Dalloway, and
    • A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit, plenary speaker at this year’s Woolf and the City, the 19th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

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Virginia Woolf and race was the topic of a recent discussion on the Virginia Woolf Listserv. Here are some of the sources readers and scholars suggested:

  • Jane Marcus’s book Hearts of Darkness
  • Patricia McManus article “The “Offensiveness’ of Virginia Woolf: From a Moral to a Political Reading” in Woolf Studies Annual 14 (2008)
  • Laura Doyle’s  chapter titled “Voyaging Beyond the Race Mother: Melymbrosia and To the Lighthouse”  in her book Bordering on the Body: The Racial Matrix of Modern Fiction and Culture. Oxford University Press, 1994.
  • Work by Urmila Seshagiri, including “Orienting Virginia Woolf: Race, Aesthetics, and Politics in To the Lighthouse”
  • Gretchen Gerzina’s work on Bloomsbury/Woolf and race
  • Anna Snaith work on Bloomsbury/Woolf and race.

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