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Archive for the ‘Jacob’s Room’ Category

Beaumont is a small high desert city in Southern California’s “Inland Empire,” about 80 miles east of Los Angeles on the road to Palm Springs. I don’t know anything about the community’s literary and cultural climate and certainly don’t mean to slight residents when I say that it doesn’t strike me as a place where one would find many Woolfophiles.

But hey, I could be selling the heartland short. When my writer/musician friend Bill Bell, who lives in neighboring Banning, was prowling around the Beaumont swap meet one day recently, he too was surprised to come across this one-of-a-kind treasure. Happily he thought of me and generously paid $2 to buy it for me. It’s a wooden paintbox, about 12” x 16.” Both sides are painted, one with a whimsical winged elf. The other side is a fair-to-middling copy of the Beresford portrait of young Virginia Stephen next to a quotation I wasn’t familiar with. I traced it to Jacob’s Room:

It’s not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases that age and kill us; it’s the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of the omnibuses.

I wonder how someone, having created this gem, could bear to part with it, but it’s found a good home here in my study, surrounded by my books and an assortment of compatible Woolfiana.

 

 

 

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Cover of "Life Class: A Novel"

Pat Barker’s new novel, Toby’s Room, hasn’t been released in the States yet, but I’m looking forward to it eagerly, with its allusions to Jacob’s Room. Instead, I found the 2008 Life Class at the library and snapped it up. Only later did I recall having heard that Toby’s Room is a sequel to Life Class; my reading it first is purely serendipitous.

Barker is in her most familiar territory, World War I, in this story about Paul and Elinor, who meet as painting students at the Slade. When the war starts, Paul leaves his studies to serve as an ambulance driver in France. Toby is Elinor’s brother, a medical student, and he too enlists. Elinor and Paul correspond regularly, and she writes to him about an exciting encounter:

“I’ve been to tea with Lady Ottoline Morrell! I never thought I’d live to see the day. I met her at the Camden Street Gallery and she looked at me very intently for a long time and then she said in that vague way of hers, wafting a jeweled hand about above her head, You must come to tea sometime. Do come to tea….” Elinor is prepared to dismiss this as idle chatter until she receives a written invitation, which she accepts. She describes the encounter to Paul: “She’s not easy to talk to, though she is interested in everything you say. You feel she’s listening, not just waiting for the chance to make some clever remark her self like most of that Bloomsbury crowd….”

A group at Garsington Manor, country home of L...

A group at Garsington Manor, country home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, near Oxford. Left to right: Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mrs. Aldous Huxley, Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The acquaintanceship continues. Elinor isn’t totally comfortable; she feels that Lady Ott wants something from her—”She seems to be drawing your soul out of your body … a kind of cannibalism”—but she’s swept up in the milieu. She writes to Paul about a party at which Ott holds up a purple feather boa and hands it to “a tall etiolated man with a straggly beard who wrapped it around his neck and immediately started to dance a minuet….” What do you think—Lytton? Later, Elinor is “seized by a man who looked like a highly intelligent teddy bear and spoke with dry, devouring passion about how the war must stop, now, at once, this instant, keeping his gaze fixed on my bosom the while…” Clive?

Woolf isn’t mentioned, but you sense her in the shadows, perhaps in deep conversation with someone or other on a velvet covered settee. And apparently Elinor will meet her in Toby’s Room.

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Today we have another Woolf sighting of  Virginia Woolf in contemporary fiction, this one in a novel by Pat Barker aptly (for a Woolf reference) titled Toby’s Room. It is due out in August, and once again, it comes via the  VWoolf Listserv, this time from Stephen Barkway.

The Woolf reference is spelled out in a Guardian piece titled “The Big Novels of 2012,” and it reads:

Barker’s focus is art student Elinor Brooke, torn between a desperate desire for independence and a feeling (partly ascribed to Virginia Woolf, whom she briefly meets) that the war has nothing to do with women.

In this novel, Barker brings back students of the Slade School of Art, whom readers first met in her 2007 novel Life Class, set in 1941. It was a move she predicted during an interview with The Guardian back in 2007.

The narrative of Toby’s Room takes place between 1912 and 1917 and involves art student Elinor Brooke’s search for her brother Toby who is reported “Missing, Believed Killed” during World War I.

Barker is best known for her Regeneration trilogy, which includes Regeneration (1991), The Eye in the Door (1993) and The Ghost Road (1995).

Watch an interview with Barker about the novel, and you will note even more similarities to Woolf.

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ipod-touch

Being able to download Virginia Woolf novels to Apple’s sleek little iPod means we can now carry her words with us anywhere we go.  Because so far, I haven’t found a pocket that the gizmo — stocked with Woolf novels — doesn’t fit in.

Here’s my story. I bought an IPod touch a few weeks ago. Since then, I have spent way too much time searching for and downloading fun, interesting and useful iPod Apps.

I won’t bore you Woolfians with my love for the AP Stylebook App that set me back $29 but is worth every penny. Nor will I discuss the free Italian lessons I’m taking on my iPod or the Rachel Maddow shows I’m watching or the multiple Twitter accounts I’m following via TweetDeck.

But I will gladly tell you about the Apps I found that are related to Virginia:

  • The Virginia Woolf Collection – Nine of Woolf’s novels. Cost: $2.99
  • “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Study Guide and Quiz. Cost: 99 cents
  • Three versions of Night and Day at a cost of 99 cents each
  • Mrs. Dalloway. Cost: $17.99
  • Vanessa and Virginia by Susan Sellers. Cost: $9.99
  • Orlando Study Guide and Quiz. Cost: 99 cents
  • To the Lighthouse Study Guide and Quiz. Cost: 99 cents

The best news is that if you want to get Woolf novels for free, and you have an iPod touch or an iPhone, you can. Here’s how:

  1. Download the free Kindle App for the iPod touch and the iPhone from the App Store.
  2. Visit Amazon.com’s Kindle store. Search for Virginia Wolf. Sort your search by price so you can easily spot the free downloads.
  3. Download The Voyage Out, Jacob’s Room and Night and Day for free.
  4. Relax in the knowledge that no matter where you travel, you can always have Virginia in your pocket.

More of Woolf’s published work is available as Kindle e-books for under $2, including Monday and Tuesday and The Early Works of Virginia Woolf.

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lcartworkThree papers on Virginia Woolf will be part of the University of Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, which will be held Feb. 19-21.

The papers will be presented at a panel hosted by the International Virginia Woolf Society. They will include:

  • Professor Beth Rigel Daugherty, Otterbein College, “Educating the Reader: Virginia Woolf’s Pedagogical Essays”
  • Professor Brian Richardson, University of Maryland, “The Physical Book and the Site of Reading in To the Lighthouse”
  • Professor Theresa Mae Thompson, Valdosta State University, “Woolf and Gandhi: the Raj in Jacob’s Room

Speakers at the conference include Ed Roberson, Susan Gubar, Percival Everett, Manuel Martínez-Maldonado and David James. For more details, including registration information, visit the conference Web site.

Get details about the conference’s Call for Papers.

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