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In June, Rohan Maitzen, senior editor at Open Letters Monthly, approached Blogging Woolf. She was seekingnadelwoolf someone to review a new biography of Virginia Woolf.

Zoe Wolstenholme, who joined Blogging Woolf as a contributing writer just this year, readily agreed to review the work by biographer and critic Ira Nadel. Titled Virginia Woolf, it is part of Reaktion Books’ “Critical Lives” series and is included in the University of Chicago Press catalog.

Wolstenholme’s review, “The bowl that one fills and fills,” was published online Oct. 1.

Open Letters Monthly is a monthly arts and literature review with a readership of more than 30,000. The online publication is linked to regularly by Arts & Letters Daily and 3 Quarks Daily, among other sites.

this is truly a Critical Life; the biography focuses on Woolf’s writing and its relationship with both her own and others’ critical thought – Zoe Wolstenholme, “The bowl that one fills and fills,” Open Letters Monthly, Oct. 1, 2016.

Other new tomes

Also included in the current University of Chicago Press Literature and Criticism Catalog are:literature_15_uchicagopress

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9780374172459_p0_v1_s192x300A new book by the granddaughter of Woolf’s friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West, recalls the family history of the maternal side of the Nicholson family. Juliet Nicolson, the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson and the daughter of Nigel Nicolson, has written a new biography titled, A House Full of Daughters: A Memoir of Seven Generations, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, which will be released on June 14, 2016.

This biography focuses on multiple generations of the women of Nicolson’s family. The story begins on her great-great grandmother, Pepita Duran, who was famous for her beauty and dancing, and ends of Nicolson’s own granddaughter, Imogen.

The Guardian calls Nicolson’s book, “a troubling, entertaining tale” and informs us that the biography doesn’t provide readers with much new information on Vita:

There is not much new that Nicolson can add to Vita’s life – her love for Knole and sense of loss when a cousin inherited it, her affairs with women and her marriage to Harold Nicolson and of course their creation of Sissinghurst. But somehow that makes the story of Juliet’s mother, Philippa, even more fascinating. While everybody was obsessed, Nicolson writes, with recording and recount everything that has happened on her father’s side of the family, no one cared much about the maternal line, the Tennyson d’Eyncourts. There are no diaries, few photographs, and whenever Philippa talked about her upbringing “we yawned”, Nicolson admits.

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A visual timeline of Nicolson’s family from The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail emphasizes some tawdry aspects of the book, which reveals, “extraordinary secrets of a dynasty blighted by booze and scandalous sex.” From The Daily Mail review:

These days if you visit the garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, you find what its guardians the National Trust want you to see: the stunning flowers and plants and hedges put there by Vita Sackville-West, the bohemian poet and novelist who created the garden in the Thirties.

Go back a few decades, however, and you’d have found something rather different: Sackville-West herself, dead drunk and passed out in the flower beds. On several occasions, the staff had to return her to the house in a wheelbarrow.

The Telegraph calls the book, “exceptionally moving” in their review:

Alcohol, as the narrative’s final bravura section shows, was the dark thread linking mothers to daughters throughout this gilded tale of life in magnificent houses. Nicolson’s anger, tenderness and insight have resulted in an exceptionally moving book.

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Juliet Nicolson, Vita Scakville-West’s granddaughter.

Juliet Nicolson will read from her new book in Southampton, New York on Friday, June 17, 2016 at 7pm at BookHampton located at 93 Main Street, Southhampton, NY 11968.

 

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Inspired by her own trip from London to Greece with her spaniel, Virginia Woolf fan and Masters student Katyuli Lloyd has crafted new illustrations for Woolf’s Flush (1933).

Screenshot of her sketchbook for Flush.

Screenshot of Lloyd’s sketchbook for Flush, as posted on her website.

Her version uses four-color lithographs and black ink sketches to illustrate Woolf’s story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel. The project is part of her Masters in Children’s Book Illustration at the  Cambridge School of Art.

Layering of colors played a key role in the project, Lloyd said. “I knew that my choice of colours would be key to bringing the book to life. The added challenge was to find a colour scheme that could work for contrasting environments: a dark Victorian interior and the outdoor light of Italy.”

I first read the novel when I had taken my own spaniel from London to Greece. I was inspired by my experiences mirroring those of someone 170 years ago: the timelessness in the relationship between an owner and their dog, as well as the love of travel. -Katyuli Lloyd

Her two major Masters projects are the Flush illustrations and a rewrite of Nikolai Gogol’s Nose for 7-9 years olds in rhyming couplets, with illustrations.

An exhibition of her work will be held at the Candid Arts Trust Gallery, 3–5 Torrens Street, London EC1V, Feb. 9-13, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

I was keen for my finished artwork to have a hand-printed quality. I liked the grainy, faded lithograph prints of the 1920s and 1930s, including those of Vanessa Bell for Hogarth Press, and I wanted my artwork to nod to Woolf’s hand-printed books. – Lloyd

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What would happen if you took the 37,971 words that make up Woolf’s feminist polemic A Room of One’s Own (1929) and rearranged them into a work of fiction? And what would happen if that text was then turned into a work of visual art?

Kabe Wilson rearranged Woolf’s words into his novella titled Olivia N’Gowfri – Of One Woman or So. Set 80 years after the publication of Woolf’s essay, it tells the story of a young woman’s radical challenge to literary conservatism in the elitist environment of the University of Cambridge, according to The Guardian.

His work has now been turned into a piece of art, a 4 by 13-ft. sheet of paper displaying the novella’s 145 pages, with each word cut out, individually, from a copy of A Room of One’s Own, and reformed to duplicate the novella.

“[T]he real fun” of the project “was in multi-layered wordplay and finding connections between words – linking different meanings across separate historical periods,” Wilson told The Guardian.

Listen to an interview with the author, who spent four years on the project in which he used computer word lists to make sure he used every word in the original text to tell a new story.

And listen to the author’s explanation of the novella and its concept:

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Join blogger Heavenali for a #Woolfalong in the new year. 24059707566_42fe92f7c0_o

Starting tomorrow and running throughout 2016, readers will choose six books — or more, if desired — by or about Virginia Woolf for their reading pleasure.

Here are the guidelines for every month of the year, with readers choosing their favorites for each:

January and February – Read a famous Woolf novel, such as To the Lighthouse (1927) or Mrs. Dalloway (1925).

March and April: Read Woolf’s beginning and ending novels, The Voyage Out (1915) or Night and Day (1919) or Between the Acts (1941).

May and June: Read any of her shorter fiction, such as a collection of short stories. Possibilities include:

  • Kew Gardens (1919)
    Monday or Tuesday (1921)
    A Haunted House and Other Short Stories (1944)
    Mrs. Dalloway’s Party (1973)
    The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf (1985)

July and August: Read a biography, either one written by Woolf — Flush (1933), Orlando (1928), or Roger Fry: A Biography (1941) or a biography of Virginia Woolf.

September and October: Read some of Woolf’s nonfiction. Heavenali mentions either Woolf’s essays or diaries, but I would add her letters to the list.

November and December: Read another novel, such as The Years (1937) Jacob’s Room (1922) or The Waves (1931).

When sharing your reading experience on social media, use the hashtag #Woolfalong.

Blogger Heavenali pledges to post six #Woolfalong discussion-style entries, one every two months, where links to other posts can be shared. Meanwhile, a Woolf discussion has already begun.

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Mendocino FireElizabeth Tallent’s new story collection, Mendocino Fire, deserves the praise it’s received in reviews. The stories, all set along the northern California coast where she lives, are imaginative, innovative and compelling explorations into the human condition.

As it’s her first book of fiction in more than twenty years, I dove into her stories with glee and found a happy surprise in “Eros 101.” Opening with a faculty dinner, we learn that:

“The evening’s covert (and mistaken: you’ll see) premise is that the newly hired Woolf scholar will, from her angelic professional height and as homage to VW, scheme to advance all female futures….”

Written in an essay question format, the responses disclose the encounter of said Woolf scholar, Clio Mirsak, with tenure-seeking junior faculty member Nadia, whom she refers to as “the Beloved.” The attraction is immediate and consuming but not reciprocated. The story, with its challenging construction, is clever, funny and touching. Woolf pops in and out of the narrative both directly and covertly.

A phrase from Woolf: “’Reality’ … beside which nothing matters.” (Help—can someone tell me the source of this quote?)

Unwelcome thoughts of her mother interject themselves into Clio’s fantasy: “The memory stamps out several little wildfires of desire … Just try thinking back through this woman.”

In a recent interview Tallent cites Woolf as one of her influences and among the novelists she teaches in her fiction writing classes at Stanford, so it’s no surprise that she would evoke Woolf for her feminist scholar protagonist. It was a great addition (number 86) to my ongoing list of Woolf sightings in fiction and a marvelous story collection from start to finish.

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Becoming Virginia Woolf Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read, by Barbara Lounsberry, will be out next fall.

The book, which covers Woolf’s second, spare Modernist diary stage, from mid-1918 to mid-1929, can be purchased at a discount through Dec. 11. Download the flyer for details.

Published by the University Press of Florida, Lounsberry’s book is described as the only full-length work to explore the topic of Woolf’s diaries. In it, she illuminates how Woolf’s private and public writing was shaped by the diaries of other writers, including Samuel Pepys, James Boswell and more.

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