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Archive for July, 2011

The Guardian promised they would correct Paul Lester’s egregious error, and they did.

By July 22, Paul Lester’s item in The Guardian, New band of the day: Wolfette (No 1,065),  which claimed that Dominique Woolf, of Wolfette fame, was Virginia Woolf’s great granddaughter, was amended. The paper published an official correction on its Corrections and Clarifications page on the same day.

As the correction states, “Virginia and Leonard Woolf did not have children. Wolfette has been quoted in an interview as saying `She was married to my grandmother’s uncle. That makes her my great-great-aunt by marriage … I think.'”

I can now breathe easily again. And we can all move on to something more interesting in the world of Woolf.

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Guardian, say it isn’t so

Bothered by the glaring error in Paul Lester’s music review of Wolfette in The Guardian? The one where he claims that Dominique Woolf is the great granddaughter of Virginia Woolf?

Well, email your complaint to reader@guardian.co.uk, the office that handles reader queries about Guardian accuracy and standards. When requesting a correction, you should send a web link of the story.

Since the Guardian’s policy is “to correct significant errors as soon as possible,” they will want to know about this one. After what happened with News of the World, someone has to keep a squeaky clean image.

Meawhile, out of Woolfette’s mouth came these words, spoken during an April Q&A posted on So So Gay:

Apparently you’re distantly related to Virginia Woolf.

She was married to my grandmother’s uncle. That makes her my great-great-aunt by marriage… I think.

Readers have pointed out Lester’s error, but so far he has failed to admit his mistake or publish a correction. Let’s hope the powers-that-be at The Guardian will show him the error of his ways — in more ways than one.

But as Stuart N. Clarke noted, “According to A E Housman, `the faintest of all human passions is the love of truth’.”

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A post on The Guardian’s website by Paul Lester reports that Virginia Woolf’s great granddaughter, Dominique Woolf of Wolfette, is a rocker. Trouble is, Virginia and Leonard Woolf didn’t have any children, so they don’t have any grandchildren or great grandchildren either.

When readers pointed out Lester’s error, he posted a response that showed his unconcern with the concept of fact checking — and the importance of facts in general.

Here’s what he wrote:

I was told she was the great-granddaughter by her “people”, and the fact has been repeated in all of the articles thus far about her, so I did the same. Baa. If it’s not true, it doesn’t change my assessment of her or her music. But it is interesting that her team are pushing the idea that she is the progeny of the famous writer. I think it’s interesting, anyway.

“Interesting”? I think “reprehensible lie” is a more apt descriptions. Or maybe “lawsuit waiting to happen” is a better fit.

In addition to the huge inaccuracy already noted, Lester’s post is full of inanities such as these:

  • “Dominique Woolf’s toothless rebel-girl rock would make her great-grandmother Virginia howl, and possibly us too”
  • “Whether we did or not, here they are, led by the great-granddaughter of tormented early-20th century intellectual and author, Virginia Woolf, which explains Wolfette’s stage name, although anyone expecting revolutionary discourses on the nature of love and marriage  may be disappointed.”
  • “She’ll be howling at the moon when she reads this.”

So will we all.

Editor’s Note: As of July 21, Lester had not published a formal correction. You can write The Guardian at reader@guardian.co.uk to ask for one. Be sure to include the link to the story in your email.

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The Light Within (for Virginia Woolf)

I am not suprised when Virginia Woolf inspires dance, drama, art and music. And I approve when her work appears on lists of must-read books.

But when Slovenian writer Slavoj Žižek speculates that a burger created in her honor would be “dried out, topped with parsley, totally overrated,” the description does not match my view of the author, and my dander is up.

See #11 below for the latter reference, which is ostensibly about the former Virginia Woolf Burger bar at the Hotel Russell in Bloomsbury. It apparently no longer exists. But do note that a cow was created in Woolf’s honor for the 2009 Boston Cow Parade.

  1. A pretender to Capote’s throne?, Sydney Morning Herald
    She’s well read, not some ingenue looking for the next party: not for her and pal Eve the novels of Virginia Woolf; their tastes are more muscular. Katey reads Hemingway novels from
    anywhere but the beginning, so ”bit characters [stand] on equal
  2. Fear And Loathing The Dog Days Of Sports Summer, SportsFanLive
    As much as I appreciate Henry Miller, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Virginia Woolf, Ring Lardner, John Fante, Charles Bukowski and many others, I have to credit the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson for the best ever opening line of a book in the 20th Century
  3. New restaurants opening in Amherst, others moving to bigger spaces, MassLive.com
    “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” the British writer Virginia Woolf once said. Amherst restaurant operators are hoping to help people think. The restaurant scene here is evolving this summer,
  4. Barfly: Who s afraid of a hip, hot happy hour?, Marin Independent-Journal
    “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” wrote Virginia Woolf. It was in this spirit that I ventured out, looking to think, sleep and if I was lucky, to love better — or at least a little more often.
  5. QFEST 2011: Reviews From Philadelphia’s Annual LGBT Film Fest, Cherry Grrl
    Even with the temporal breakages, the narrative flows smoothly, with pieces of the protagonists’ lives all intersecting finely, as in a Virginia Woolf novel. Perhaps it is Kay who says it best at the film’s denouement; it is up to the individual to
  6. Novel Marriage — Art and Books at El Cerrito Library, Patch.com
    Britton was actually thinking about a book she had read, Stephanie Barron’s, The White Garden: A Novel of Virginia Woolf, when she created her contribution to the show, a watercolor called “Narcissus.” Several examples of the art can be seen in the
  7. Shakespeare at the spa, Minneapolis Star Tribune
    And I have spent an afternoon in St. Ives, staring as the sun set behind Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse, still looking as transcendental as ever, as the beacon seemed to burst into golden flames in the middle of the sea.
  8. The Blagger’s Guide To…Greatest holiday reads ever, The Independent
    Try, for example, Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang in Tuscany, or Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway on a Greek Island. Or read Høeg’s delicious, icy-cool, 1992 Scandinavian detective story while sunbathing on a Caribbean beach.
  9. Opening credits, Telegraph-Journal (registration)
    The Nicest Place In England, about Virginia Woolf, was staged as a one-act for NotaBle Acts. This year, he was commissioned to write a short, site-specific work. Staged at School Days Museum in Fredericton, where Lynch works, the play is about the
  10. In praise of … an isle of one’s own., Herald Scotland
    A WOMAN must have money and an isle of one’s own if she is to remain sane, as Virginia Woolf almost wrote. There’s something undeniably romantic about owning your own island and now the dream is within reach, as long as you don’t have your sights set
  11. A life in writing: Slavoj Žižek, The Guardian
    He is disappointed, he tells me parenthetically, that we didn’t do the interview in the hotel’s adjacent Virginia Woolf burger bar. “What would the Virginia Woolf burger be like?” he asks. “Dried out, topped with parsley, totally overrated.
  12. Dance Events Announced For TNC’s Dream Up Festival, Broadway World
    He devised and performed his First Season (2009/2010) : “Solo For Three Visions” (Visions of Peter Hanke, Samuel Beckett & Virginia Woolf) to high critical acclaim, bringing him a nomination for the most prestigious state award in choreography
  13. Pioneering Author, World Traveler Returned to Albuquerque, Middle East North Africa Financial Network
    In 1969, she began to spend more time back in Albuquerque, where she began teaching about writing, Virginia Woolf, of whom she wrote a critically acclaimed work, and a class of her own design called “The Creative Imagination.” Jeanne Shannon, a friend
  14. The best summer reads – and where to read them, The Guardian
    And if you are traveling through several locations yourself, then The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford, The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf.
  15. Using this disparaging term dismisses author’s vision, The Virginian-Pilot
    It ran on for pages, with works by authors like Virginia Woolf, Anaïs Nin, Doris Lessing, George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, DH Lawrence, Jane Austen. Deep in that list was a novel, published in 1852, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. “’ Uncle Tom’s Cabin’?
  16. Sometimes good men do bad things… to good women, ABC Online
    What, as Virginia Woolf once wrote, of Shakespeare’s sister? What if Virginia Woolf had not killed herself? What if Billie Holiday had not died at the age of 44 with a pitiful 70 cents in her bank account, having been swindled out of her earnings?
  17. Druthers dilemma dogs Fraser and Nicholls, ABC Online
    Policies are like the novels of Virginia Woolf or Henry James – they’re worthy tomes, but how many people these days actually read them? They need to be written, and someone has to read them, but really and truly they don’t often get read from cover to
  18. Delve into the creation of Stuart Little at the Little Theater, Examiner.com
    Our director for Little Book had his adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts given a staged reading by Book-It, so he’s our strong connection. Our work is not as full of third person narration as Book-It, nor do we focus exclusively on adapting
  19. The Origin of the (Book as a) Work of Art, New York Observer
    The inspiration for the series was described as “the early works of Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press, The Yellow Book magazine, and the early days of The New Yorker.” A suitably nostalgized party therefore had to be thrown to celebrate the book,
  20. Patti Smith Previews Photographs at Robert Miller Gallery, New York Observer
    On the walls were images of Robert Mapplethorpe’s slippers, the river Ouse where Virginia Woolf took her life, the grave of Susan Sontag, a life mask of William Blake. Ms. Smith paced quickly around the room, sometimes making eye contact,
  21. Prague Summer Program, Prague Post
    citing Ema Katrovas’ recital of songs inspired by the literature of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, among others, and Miloš Čuřík’s lecture on Czech alternative music during the normalization period as highlights of this year’s program.
  22. Unique look at artists’ homes, yourhome.ca
    But Vanessa Bell’s house — of the Bloomsbury Group and sister to Virginia Woolf
    is so chaotic as to be endearing. You can picture her running after a child one moment and picking up a paintbrush the next. Each home entry provides a biography of the
  23. Katie Mitchell: I try to write about real people in real time in real places, Metro
    Sometimes it can reap rewards – as with her brilliant Iphigenia At Aulis, which luminously betrayed a microscopic attention to psychological detail – or her free, revelatory, mixed-media adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.
  24. In the age of Simpsons PhDs, enough with the cultural snobbery, Globe and Mail
    taste – categories of culture, with poetry at one end and pornography at the other – and stops with an embarrassed pleasure on the uneasy middle, the undefinable category that has
    been denounced by the educated since at least Virginia Woolf.
  25. Jonathan Raban: captain of seagoing literature, The Guardian (blog)
    The Godforsaken Sea, being my favourite), the sea also stands as one of literature’s most enduring and flexible metaphors, ably exploited by like of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch and endlessly reached for in poetry, from Homer onwards.
  26. Frank Stanford deserves to be read: A Q&A with Matthew Henriksen, Fayetteville Flyer
    I have been working through Knut Hamsun’s novels, just finished Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and just started Heinrich Boll’s The Clown. I’m reading Lydia Davis’ Collected Stories (purchased at Nightbird Books) from cover to cover with slow and
  27. Oregon hotel connects with Salinas author, The Salinas Californian
    “The new ones are JK Rowling [author of the Harry Potter series], Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf and [JRR] Tolkien [author of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy].” Oh, yes, and Cable’s and Robles’ favorite writer.
  28. Michael Cunningham meets the Guardian book club – podcast, The Guardian
    Michael Cunningham told the Guardian book club that he initially chose to rework Mrs Dalloway in The Hours (Virginia Woolf’s working title for her own novel), because it had been the first book he ever really looked hard at. He was trying to impress a
  29. Why I’m Sometimes Tempted to Fight My New Passion–And Why I’m Embracing It , Forbes (blog)
    As Virginia Woolf noted in her Diary: “I must remember to write about my clothes next time I have an impulse to write. My love of clothes interests me profoundly: only it is not love, & what it is I must discover.” Because of the happiness project,
  30. Where Are The Biopics About Powerful American Women?, Think Progress
    Julia Child are obviously both very famous, but Erin Brockovich, Leigh Anne Tuohy, Aileen Wuronos, and Christine Collins are much more minor or transitory ones, who aren’t nearly as
    powerful or as long-lasting as English queens or Virginia Woolf.

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I marvel at well-crafted essays. Virginia Woolf was a master, of course, right up there with Montaigne, whose name is most identified with the form. Lately, though, I’ve been absorbed with the work of contemporary work, personal essays in particular. E.B. White is one of the reigning champions of the genre, but my current favorite is Anne Fadiman.

I’d read a couple of her essays in Best American Essays collections and went looking for more. I wasn’t surprised to find that she’s a Woolf enthusiast. Her first collection, Ex Libris, is subtitled Confessions of a Common Reader—the homage makes her affinity pretty clear. She loves books and in these personal essays she writes about them lovingly, intimately, humorously. My favorite is the first one, “Marrying Libraries,” in which she talks about the true test of love and commitment: after five years of marriage, she and her husband decide to merge their books and bookshelves, their “mutually quarantined Melvilles.”

I identified with her in “Insert a Caret,” about compulsive proofreading, how misspellings and punctuation errors jump out at her from restaurant menus. In “Eternal Ink,” she writes about pens as muses and fall-guys, citing Woolf’s proclivity to do the same. (Woolf: “What am I going to say with a defective nib?”)

I read her newer collection with a combination of awe and envy—these are the kinds of essays I’d like to write. The works in At Large and At Small (Confessions of a Literary Hedonist) are what Fadiman calls “familiar essays,” personal essays with a larger scope. Each one has a broad focus—butterflies, Charles Lamb, ice cream, and sleep patterns to name a few—that she researches thoroughly but brings home with personal experience.

Essays, she says, “provide for the writer a chance to move into the sort of leisurely, slightly hedonistic mode that, in the 21st century, has become a luxury.” They are “pools of opportunity to stop, and sit, and slow down, and think.”

Fadiman claims Woolf as one of her two favorite essayists (the other is E.B. White). Woolf, along with Coleridge and Lamb, would be guests at her ideal dinner party. “Virginia and I would be the centre of attention,” she says.

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Screen shot of one digitized album photo

What an age we live in. So many resources for the study of Virginia Woolf and her work are available online, and now we have another. The Monk’s House photograph albums, which include more than 1,000 photos taken by Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and others, have been digitized by Harvard University library staff.

The digitized material now available online includes all the images in Virginia Woolf’s photo albums, numbered one through six, that Frederick R. Koch gave to Harvard’s Houghton Library in 1983. They include the 1,000 photos in Maggie Humm’s 2006 book Snapshots of Bloomsbury: the Private Lives of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

Snapshots of Bloomsbury

In the albums are snapshots taken by Woolf and her friends and family, including portraits and scenic landscapes of their homes and travels. Virginia and Vanessa were avid photographers, using a portable Kodak to shoot their pictures. They also developed their photos, printed them and mounted them in albums.

Vara Neverow tracked down the URLs  for each album and asked Blogging Woolf to post them. And Stuart N. Clarke advises that you can find corrections and additions to the descriptions of the Greek photos in Martin Ferguson Smith’s, “Virginia Woolf’s Second Visit to Greece,” English Studies, XCII, 1 (2011), 55-83.

Please see the right sidebar under the heading “Digital Archives for links to all five Monk’s House albums.

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The writer must get into touch with his reader by putting before him something which he recognises, which therefore stimulates his imagination, and makes him willing to co-operate in the far more difficult business of intimacy. And it is of the highest importance that this common meeting-place should be reached easily, almost instinctively, in the dark, with one’s eyes shut.

Biljana Dojcinovic (2nd from left) at her May press conference

Biljana Dojčinović has published a book on Virginia Woolf and modernism, the first written originally in the Serbian language.

Titled Susreti u tami: Uvod u čitanje Virdžinije Vulf (Encounters in the Dark: Introduction to Reading Virginia Woolf), it is published by Beograd. The title comes from a paraphrase of the Woolf quote from her essay “Character in Fiction” that is included above.

According to Dojčinović, her study puts Virginia Woolf  in the context of modernism as a global(ized) movement.

“The beginning of 20th century was marked by the new ways of defining and using concept of tradition, as well as by new understanding of the notion of subject,  as divided and paralyzed self, all the way from Serbia to China,” she wrote to Blogging Woolf.

“Seen in this context, Virginia Woolf’s both fictional and essayistic work demands a specific approach, a combination of close reading and cultural studies, including feminist and gender theories, so that the role of the reader, Woolf`s modernist views and their importance for understanding poetics of Henry James, as well as  concepts of engramic poetics and performative history, can be grasped.”

For more on Woolf’s global popularity, as well as available translations of her work, read High-tech methods help gauge Virginia Woolf’s popularity.

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