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Archive for the ‘Between the Acts’ Category

Our brilliant three and a half days of listening and discussing Virginia Woolf and the World of Books had a noisy ending this afternoon. We heard birdsong and RAF fighters overhead as Anna Snaith of King’s College London presented the final plenary: Virginia Woolf’s “Gigantic Ear.”

Anna Snaith

The combination of natural and mechanical sound came from a 1942 BBC broadcast of birdsong interrupted by 197 RAF planes that Snaith shared. The online recording helped her make the point that Woolf uses sound to great effect in Between the Acts (1941).

Afterward, many Woolf scholars and common readers moved on from the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf — some headed for their homes around the world, others continued their travels.

Chawton House Library

But the group of us who had signed up to go to Chawton boarded the bus to make the one-hour trip to this village in Hampshire.

Once there, we were able to visit Chawton House Library, located in a home once owned by Jane Austen’s brother Andrew and one that Jane visited regularly.

The main collection of the Chawton House Library, which can be explored using an online catalogue, focuses on women’s literature in English during the period 1600-1830, including rare early editions and some unique books.

Jane Austen’s House and Museum

We were also able to visit Jane’s own much smaller home down the road from Chawton House, the only house where Jane lived and wrote that is open to the public as a museum.

Jane Austen’s House Museum uses 41 objects throughout the house she lived in from 1809-1817 to tell the story of this classic British writer.

Our bus at the Chawton car park.

This way to Chawton House. That way to Jane Austen’s House.

Headed down the path to the Chawton House Library

Our group starts the tour of the Chawton House Library in the Great Hall.

A view of the grounds from a Chawton House window.

Just a few of the books on display at Chawton House.

Our first sighting of Jane Austen’s House and Museum.

A look at the garden at the Jane Austen House and Museum.

This is the tiny table where Jane Austen did her writing. Only the tabletop is original.

The rather small bed Jane Austen shared with her sister Cassandra.

This light-filled window in the bedroom Jane Austen shared with her sister Cassandra looks out over the herb garden and the outbuilding where the baking was done.

A group of Woolfians poses in the garden at Jane Austen’s House: Vara Neverow,  AnnMarie Bantzinger, Gill Lowe, and Stuart Clarke.

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Between the Acts stage adaptationVirginia Woolf’s final novel Between the Acts (1941) has been adapted for the stage by John Schmor, associate professor of theater arts at the University of Oregon.

Schmor, who said that he didn’t choose the play, the play chose him, described the staging as “spare” so that Woolf’s “wonderful way with words” is highlighted.

Remaining performances are today and July 31 through Aug. 2 at 8 p.m. at Hope Theatre in the UO’s Miller Theatre Complex on East 11th Avenue near Kincaid Street.

Tickets are $5 general admission, at the door. For information, call 541-346-1791.

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John Lehman

Information about John Lehmann and other Bloomsbury Group figures has been newly posted to the Mantex site.

Roy Johnson of Mantex Information Design wrote Blogging Woolf to say he has added half a dozen new resources connected to Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group to the site. Here they are, with links:

Find more Bloomsbury Group materials, as well as biographical notes, study guides and literary criticism on twentieth century authors, including Woolf and other Bloomsbury Group members.

Visit the Virginia Woolf at Mantex page. Woolf study guides on the site include:Between the Acts

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booksDid Virginia Woolf like science fiction? Did science fiction influence her novels? Those questions never occurred to me until I read a Web site post titled “The Science Fiction Writer Who Received Fan Mail from Virginia Woolf.”

The piece reports on an article by Kim Stanley Robinson in New Scientist that discusses Woolf’s correspondence with the influential science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon.

In it, Robinson says Woolf did more than just read science fiction. She also allowed it to influence her writing. Robinson cites Orlando and the “Time Passes” section of To the Lighthouse as evidence for her claim.

She also cites correspondence from Woolf to Stapledon found in his papers at the University of Liverpool and not included in her Collected Letters. In her letters, Woolf praises Stapledon’s work, particularly the novel Star Maker, which he sent Woolf.

Of Star Maker, Woolf wrote: “sometimes it seems to me that you are grasping ideas that I have tried to express, much more fumblingly, in fiction.”

Robinson says Stapledon’s 1937 novel influenced Woolf’s Between the Acts. She describes the novel as ending “with Stapledonian imagery,” and writes that its final pages are “a kind of science fiction.”

After reading Patrick A. McCarthy’s introduction to Star Maker on Google Books, I am intrigued enough to read some Stapledon on my own.

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I went alone to the world premier of “Unpublished Dialogues.” Perhaps that was most fitting.

Virginia Woolf was, after all, alone when she died. And “Unpublished Dialogues” was based on the last day of her life.

The theater-dance piece premiered last month in a dark and cavernous old ice house that seemed a fitting space for conducting an artistic exploration of Woolf’s mind on the day of her death.

The building sits on a tipsy street that ends at railroad tracks. Inside, just as the name implies, the structure is as cool as a refrigerated case, even on a warm sunny afternoon in early fall.

The rough brick and concrete walls of the main space stretch up and up. On that day, they ended in rows of multi-colored lights strung above a stage set to resemble Woolf’s writing Lodge at Monk’s House in Sussex.

I sat in the front row, just inches from the low stage, ready to absorb the wordless drama about a woman who chose her words so well.

The stage was simply set, but each item was placed with special meaning. The wooden coat rack at stage left held the dark coat that Virginia would wear on her last walk. The small table at stage right held a framed photo of a couple that I imagined as Leonard and Virginia on their wedding day.

In the center was her famous writing table. I imagined that the notebook sitting there contained her draft of Between the Acts. When I noticed a walking stick leaning nearby, I wondered if Woolf had actually used one when she left for the River Ouse.

The performance itself froze me in my seat. I was mesmerized by its darkness and drama and lightness and euphoria all at once.

Two Virginias — the adult and her younger self — teased each other lightly and played cat and mouse with a pen. Two half-brothers struggled with the terrified young Virginia, who was consoled by her adult self.

Her lover Vita Sackville-West let down her long, flowing hair and romanced Virginia. Her nephew Julian Bell played at being a soldier then marched off to war as a real one. And Leonard Woolf was either there in the background or by her side, the steady companion.

When Virginia’s companions left her, and she pulled her coat off the rack and slipped it on,  I felt new empathy for this brilliant woman who felt forced to take that final walk. I did not want her to go alone. (more…)

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