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Archive for the ‘The Waves’ Category

Last week, I wrote about the Virginia Woolf cookie cutter. This week, I am writing about the Virginia Woolf pen. Or to be more accurate, I am embedding Matthew Holliday‘s Oct. 21 tweets about the Bloomsbury group, Virginia Woolf, and fountain pens.

A limited edition Woolf pen

But first let me mention the Writers Edition Virginia Woolf Montblanc pen set, which pays tribute to The Waves. Launched in 2006 in a limited edition, the run included 4,000 sets including a ballpoint pen, fountain pen, and mechanical pencil, as well as 16,000 fountain pens and 18,000 ballpoint pens.

Out of range

None of them are currently for sale on the Montblanc website. But you can find them on ebay at prices ranging from $499 for the ballpoint to $3,450 for the set.

We can all put the pen on our wish list. Sadly, few of us will find our wish coming true. The cookie cutter, however, is infinitely more affordable.

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Painting of Virginia Woolf by Vanessa Bell currently displayed at Monk’s House

Here are the details of three talks on Virginia Woolf and her times, hosted by Literature Cambridge and Lucy Cavendish College during Michaelmas Term 2019.

Each is free and open to all, town and gown. Participants can buy lunch in the Lucy Cavendish dining hall from 12.30 pm before the talk.

What: Reading Ritual in The Waves (1931) with Ellie Mitchell, ADC Theatre, Cambridge
When: Tuesday 15 October, 1 p.m.
Venue: Founders’ Room, Lucy Cavendish College, Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge.

The Waves was variously described by Woolf as a ‘playpoem’, a ‘mystical poetical novel’ and ‘something struggled for’. This talk reads the novel in the light of Woolf’s interest in the anthropologist Jane Harrison’s theories of classical culture, art and ritual.

What: Professor Dame Gillian Beer, Clare Hall, Cambridge, on Modernist Alice.
When: Tuesday 5 November, 1 p.m.:
Venue: Wolfson Room, Lucy Cavendish College, Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge.

The Alice books transform from age to age and place to place. In the period of Modernism in Britain and Surrealism in Europe, they took devious and different directions. The talk will be illustrated with writing and images drawn from Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Walter de la Mare, Arthur Eddington, Vladimir Nabokov, Andre Breton, and others.

What: All-day reading of The Waves
When: Sunday 27 October, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with regular refreshment breaks. Come for part of the day or the entire day — your choice.
Venue: Thomas Gray Room, Pembroke College. Free, but please book if possible via Eventbrite

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Fall Events

What: Study Day on Reading The Waves
When: Saturday 21 September 2019
Where: Stapleford Granary
Cost: £90/£80 students and Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain members.

What: Ellie Mitchell, Talk on Reading Ritual in The Waves
When: Tuesday 15 October 2019
Where: Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge
Cost: Free talks for Town and Gown

What: All-day reading of The Waves
When: Sun. 27 October 2019
Where: Cambridge
Cost: Free but places are limited. Email info@literaturecambridge.co.uk if you would like to attend.

Summer 2020 Courses

Virginia Woolf’s Women, 19-24 July 2020. An intensive week of lectures, seminars, tutorials, walks, talks, and visits to places of interest in Cambridge.

Reading the 1920s, 26-31 July 2020. An intensive study week on literature from the decade following the First World War. Authors include T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Lawrence, Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, Helen Zenna Smith, Edmund Blunden.

Discount for early bookings. Members of the VWSGB can book at the student rate, subject to availability.

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The White Book by Han Kang is a sequence of loosely linked personal meditations on life and death and the natural world through the lens of the color white.

In a piece called “Wave,” I was struck by passages such as these:

“In the distance, the surface of the water bulges upward. The winter sea mounts its approach, surging closer in. The wave reaches its greatest possible height and shatters in a spray of white. The shattered water slides back over the sandy shore.”

“Each wave becomes dazzlingly white at the moment of its shattering. Farther out, the tranquil body of water flashes like the scales of innumerable fish. The glittering of multitudes is there. The shifting, stirring, tossing of multitudes. Nothing is eternal.”

I couldn’t help but reflect on The Waves, where in the opening passage, at daybreak:

“As they neared the shore each bar rose, heaped itself, broke and swept a thin veil of white water across the sand. The wave paused, and then drew out again, sighing like a sleeper whose breath comes and goes unconsciously.”

 

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Lynnette Beers is a Woolf scholar and enthusiast who teaches British literature and creative writing at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, Calif. So it’s no surprise that Virginia Woolf would make an appearance in Lynnette’s first novel, Just Beyond the Shining River

Woolf introductions

The protagonist, Gemma Oldfield, discovers a cache of letters spanning six decades at the cottage of her recently-deceased grandmother in the East Midlands village of Moulton. The letters disclose family secrets with ever-widening ramifications across generations. The story balances between the past, as revealed by Gemma in the letters, and the present, as she grapples with crises and discoveries in her own life.

Epigraphs from Moments of Being and The Waves introduce each of three sections and help to establish themes of remembrance and change, resolve and renewal. Within the letters themselves, Mary, their author, tells Emily, Gemma’s grandmother, that “I find myself one of the lucky ones to have actually met Mrs. Woolf years ago.” In another Mary writes about an article she’s researching about suicides by drowning, specifically Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf.

Sense of place

What I enjoyed most, though, was an ever-present sense of place. Lynnette brings London to life throughout the novel. As in Woolf’s own work, I was able to visualize so many scenes and sites, the Chelsea neighborhood of Gemma’s friend, their walks along the Embankment, back lanes of Soho, and more. But it was the story’s frequent surprises, its twists and turns—both Gemma’s and her grandmother’s—that kept me turning the pages.

Just Beyond the Shining River grew out of Lynnette’s MFA thesis, and involved extensive time and research in England. It has been selected as a finalist in the debut novel category for the “Goldie” awards of the Golden Crown Literary Society, which recognizes and promotes lesbian literature. Congratulations to Lynnette Beers!

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img_1932Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Jan. 25, 2016. It was so popular, we think it bears republishing today.

Today is Virginia Woolf’s birthday. She was born in Kensington, London, 135 years ago today, on Jan. 25, 1882, at 12:15 p.m.

Below are entries from her published diaries dated on her birthday or the day after. Some refer specifically to the gifts she received, the things she did and the people she saw on her birthday. The last one, written on Jan. 26, 1941, the year of her death, does not.

1897

Passionate Apprentice

Monday 25 January

My birthday. No presents at breakfast and none til Mr Gibbs came, bearing a great parcel under his arms, which turned out to be a gorgeous Queen Elizabeth — by Dr Creighton. I went out for a walk round the pond after breakfast with father, it being Nessas drawing day. Went out with Stella to Hatchards about some book for Jack, and then to Regent St. for flowers and fruit for him; then to Wimpole St. to see how he had slept, and then to Miss Hill in Marylebone Rd. Jo [Fisher] was there discussing the plans for Stellas new cottages with Miss Hill. All three learnedly argued over them for half an hour, I sitting on a stool by the fire and surveying Miss Hills legs — Nessa went back to her drawing after lunch, and Stella and I went to Story’s to buy me an arm chair, which is to be Ss present to me — We got a very nice one, and I came straight home, while Stella went on to Wimpole St. Gerald gave me £1, and Adrian a holder for my stylograph —Father is going to give me Lockharts Life of Scott — Cousin Mia gave me a diary and another pocket book. Thoby writes to say that he has ordered films for me. Got Carlyles Reminiscences, which I have read before. Reading four books at once — The Newcomes, Caryle, Old Curiosity Shop, and Queen Elizabeth — (21-22)

1905

25 January

Another lazy morning — read however the greater part of my review book, so that will be written tomorrow with luck — & then? — I must turn about for something fresh to do. My birthday, by the way — the 25th but, as usual, it was somehow rather forgotten which one begins to expect at my age —! Violet to lunch, & she did bring a present — a huge china inkpot which holds almost a jar full of ink, & is rather too large to be practicable. I must cultivate a bold hand & a quill pen — Georges motor after lunch, in which we did various long distance jobs — then home, read my review book, & dinner at 7.30 as we went with Gerald to Peter Pan, Barries play — imaginative & witty like all of his, but just too sentimental — However it was a great treat (227-228).

1915

VW Diary I

Monday 25 January

My birthday—& let me count up all the things I had. L. had sworn he would give me nothing, & like a good wife, I believed him. But he crept into my bed, with a little parcel, which was a beautiful green purse. And he brought up breakfast, with a paper which announced a naval victory (we have sunk a German battle ship) & a square brown parcel, with The Abbot in it—a lovely first edition— So I had a very merry & pleasing morning—which indeed was only surpassed by the afternoon. I was then taken up to town, free of charge, & given a treat, first at a Picture Palace, & then at Buszards. I don’t think I’ve had a birthday treat for 10 years; & it felt like one too—being a fine frosty day, everything brisk & cheerful, as it should be, but never is. The Picture Palace was a little disappointing—as we never got to the War pictures, after waiting 1 hour & a half. But to make up, we exactly caught a non-stop train, & I have been very happy reading father on Pope, which is very witty & bright—without a single dead sentence in it. In fact I dont know when I have enjoyed a birthday so much—not since I was a child anyhow. Sitting at tea we decided three things: in the first place to take Hogarth, if we can get it; in the second, to buy a Printing press; in the third to buy a Bull dog, probably called John. I am very much excited at the idea of all three—particularly the press. I was also given a packet of sweets to bring home (28).

1918

Friday 25 January

My Birthday. L. slid a fine cow’s horn knife into my hand this morning. Nelly has knitted me a pair of red socks which tie round the ankle, & thus just suit my state in the morning. Another event kept me recumbent. Barbara came, & together we “dissed” 4 pages, & L. printed off the second 4 at the printers—altogether a fine days work. At this rate Katherine’s story will be done in 5 weeks. We rather think of doing a little book of woodcuts, either after this book or at the same time, on our small press. Our dinner tonight was a sacrifice to duty on a fine scale; never were we more ready for an evening alone; books to read; a sense of a great deal of talk already discharged this week; but rather before 7.30 came Clara [Woolf] & the Whithams, whom we had asked with a view to killing each other off without more waste than was inevitable. Whitham’s elaborately literary get up is a fair index of his mind. He is what the self-taught working man thinks genius should be; & yet so unassuming & homely that its more amusing than repulsive. His passion for writing is the passion of the amateur—or rather of the person who’s got it up from a text book. Seeing Cannan’s new novel he said “Ah, Cannan, yes—he’s very weak in construction isn’t he?” And so with all the rest. He told me his books had a way of “screaming”, & with great enthusiasm, after asking the fate of my fiction which is a point of honour in professional circles, he ran over all the novels he’s got ready or half ready, or only in want of “phrasing”—which process he applies at the end. He begins with a synopsis, which takes him 3 months: but I didn’t listen to the whole story. They withdraw soon to Devonshire, where directly the war ends (but even the war hasn’t prevented him from adding a new book to the list) he is going to work hard. Writing all the morning, reading & walking the rest of the day (113).

1921

VW Diary II

Tuesday 25 January

Here have I waited 25 days before beginning the new year; & the 25 is, not unfortunately my 25th, but my 39th birthday; & we’ve had tea, & calculated the costs of printing Tchekov; now L. is folding the sheets of his book, & Ralph has gone, & I having taken this out of the press proceed to steal a few minutes to baptise it. I must help L. & can’t think of a solemn beginning. I’m at a crisis in Jacob: want to finish in 20,000 words, written straight off in a frenzy. And I must pull myself together to bring it off. . . Spring has miraculously renewed herself. Pink almond blossoms are in bud. Callow birds crow. In short, he’s out of love & in love, & contemplated eloping with a Spaniard in a motor car. “But after all, I said to myself as I walked back, I like to think of my book & my armchair. It’s terrible, terrible. I can’t give up my old friends after all” (86).

1930

Diary Vol. 3

Sunday 26 January

I am 48: we have been at Rodmell—a wet, windy day again; but on my birthday we walked among the downs, like the folded wings of grey birds; & saw first one fox, very long with his brush stretched; then a second; which had been barking, for the sun was hot over us; it leapt lightly over a fence & entered the furze—a very rare sight. How many foxes are there in England? At night I read Lord Chaplin’s life. I cannot yet write naturally in my new room, because the table is not the right height, & I must stoop to warm my hands. Everything must be absolutely what I am used to (285).

1931

Monday 26 January

Heaven be praised, I can truthfully say on this first day of being 49 that I have shaken off the obsession of Opening the Door, & have returned to Waves: & have this instant seen the entire book whole, & how I can finish it–say in under 3 weeks (7).

1941

VW Diary Vol. 5

Sunday 26 January

A battle against depression, rejection (by Harper’s of my story & Ellen Terry) routed today (I hope) by clearing out kitchen; by sending the article (a lame one) to N.S.: & by breaking into PH 2 days, I think, of memoir writing.

This trough of despair shall not, I swear, engulf me. The solitude is great. Rodmell life is very small beer. The house is damp. The house is untidy. But there is no alternative. Also days will lengthen. What I need is the old spurt. “Your true life, like mine, is in ideas” Desmond said to me once. But one must remember one cant pump ideas. I begin to dislike introspection. Sleep & slackness; musing; reading; cooking; cycling; oh & a good hard rather rocky book–viz: Herbert Fisher. This is my prescription. We are going to Cambridge for two days. I find myself totting up my friends lives: Helen at Alciston without water; Adrian & Karin; Oliver at Bedford, & adding up rather a higher total of happiness. There’s a lull in the war. 6 nights without raids. But Garvin says the greatest struggle is about to come–say in 3 weeks–& every man, woman dog cat even weevil must girt their arms, their faith–& so on.

Its the cold hour, this, before the lights go up. A few snowdrops in the garden. Yes, I was thinking: we live without a future. Thats whats queer, with our noses pressed to a closed door. Now to write, with a new nib, to Enid Jones (354-355).

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Today is Virginia Woolf’s birthday. She was born in Kensington, London, 134cake years ago today, on Jan. 25, 1882, at 12:15 p.m.

Below are entries from her published diaries dated on her birthday or the day after. Some refer specifically to the gifts she received, the things she did and the people she saw on her birthday. The last one, written on Jan. 26, 1941, the year of her death, does not.

1897

Passionate Apprentice

A Passionate Apprentice [1990] (ed. by Mitchell A. Leaska) The early journals, 1897-1909

Monday 25 January
My birthday. No presents at breakfast and none til Mr Gibbs came, bearing a great parcel under his arms, which turned out to be a gorgeous Queen Elizabeth — by Dr Creighton. I went out for a walk round the pond after breakfast with father, it being Nessas drawing day. Went out with Stella to Hatchards about some book for Jack, and then to Regent St. for flowers and fruit for him; then to Wimpole St. to see how he had slept, and then to Miss Hill in Marylebone Rd. Jo [Fisher] was there discussing the plans for Stellas new cottages with Miss Hill. All three learnedly argued over them for half an hour, I sitting on a stool by the fire and surveying Miss Hills legs — Nessa went back to her drawing after lunch, and Stella and I went to Story’s to buy me an arm chair, which is to be Ss present to me — We got a very nice one, and I came straight home, while Stella went on to Wimpole St. Gerald gave me £1, and Adrian a holder for my stylograph —Father is going to give me Lockharts Life of Scott — Cousin Mia gave me a diary and another pocket book. Thoby writes to say that he has ordered films for me. Got Carlyles Reminiscences, which I have read before. Reading four books at once — The Newcomes, Caryle, Old Curiosity Shop, and Queen Elizabeth — (21-22)

1905

25 January
Another lazy morning — read however the greater part of my review book, so that will be written tomorrow with luck — & then? — I must turn about for something fresh to do. My birthday, by the way — the 25th but, as usual, it was somehow rather forgotten which one begins to expect at my age —! Violet to lunch, & she did bring a present — a huge china inkpot which holds almost a jar full of ink, & is rather too large to be practicable. I must cultivate a bold hand & a quill pen — Georges motor after lunch, in which we did various long distance jobs — then home, read my review book, & dinner at 7.30 as we went with Gerald to Peter Pan, Barries play — imaginative & witty like all of his, but just too sentimental — However it was a great treat (227-228).

1915

VW Diary I

The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. I 1977 (ed. by Anne Olivier Bell) 1915-1919

Monday 25 January
My birthday—& let me count up all the things I had. L. had sworn he would give me nothing, & like a good wife, I believed him. But he crept into my bed, with a little parcel, which was a beautiful green purse. And he brought up breakfast, with a paper which announced a naval victory (we have sunk a German battle ship) & a square brown parcel, with The Abbot in it—a lovely first edition— So I had a very merry & pleasing morning—which indeed was only surpassed by the afternoon. I was then taken up to town, free of charge, & given a treat, first at a Picture Palace, & then at Buszards. I don’t think I’ve had a birthday treat for 10 years; & it felt like one too—being a fine frosty day, everything brisk & cheerful, as it should be, but never is. The Picture Palace was a little disappointing—as we never got to the War pictures, after waiting 1 hour & a half. But to make up, we exactly caught a non-stop train, & I have been very happy reading father on Pope, which is very witty & bright—without a single dead sentence in it. In fact I dont know when I have enjoyed a birthday so much—not since I was a child anyhow. Sitting at tea we decided three things: in the first place to take Hogarth, if we can get it; in the second, to buy a Printing press; in the third to buy a Bull dog, probably called John. I am very much excited at the idea of all three—particularly the press. I was also given a packet of sweets to bring home (28).

1918

Friday 25 January
My Birthday. L. slid a fine cow’s horn knife into my hand this morning. Nelly has knitted me a pair of red socks which tie round the ankle, & thus just suit my state in the morning. Another event kept me recumbent. Barbara came, & together we “dissed” 4 pages, & L. printed off the second 4 at the printers—altogether a fine days work. At this rate Katherine’s story will be done in 5 weeks. We rather think of doing a little book of woodcuts, either after this book or at the same time, on our small press. Our dinner tonight was a sacrifice to duty on a fine scale; never were we more ready for an evening alone; books to read; a sense of a great deal of talk already discharged this week; but rather before 7.30 came Clara [Woolf] & the Whithams, whom we had asked with a view to killing each other off without more waste than was inevitable. Whitham’s elaborately literary get up is a fair index of his mind. He is what the self-taught working man thinks genius should be; & yet so unassuming & homely that its more amusing than repulsive. His passion for writing is the passion of the amateur—or rather of the person who’s got it up from a text book. Seeing Cannan’s new novel he said “Ah, Cannan, yes—he’s very weak in construction isn’t he?” And so with all the rest. He told me his books had a way of “screaming”, & with great enthusiasm, after asking the fate of my fiction which is a point of honour in professional circles, he ran over all the novels he’s got ready or half ready, or only in want of “phrasing”—which process he applies at the end. He begins with a synopsis, which takes him 3 months: but I didn’t listen to the whole story. They withdraw soon to Devonshire, where directly the war ends (but even the war hasn’t prevented him from adding a new book to the list) he is going to work hard. Writing all the morning, reading & walking the rest of the day (113).

1921

VW Diary II

The Diary of Virginia Woolf: Volume II 1978 (ed. by Anne Olivier Bell with Andrew McNeillie) 1920-1924.

Tuesday 25 January
Here have I waited 25 days before beginning the new year; & the 25 is, not unfortunately my 25th, but my 39th birthday; & we’ve had tea, & calculated the costs of printing Tchekov; now L. is folding the sheets of his book, & Ralph has gone, & I having taken this out of the press proceed to steal a few minutes to baptise it. I must help L. & can’t think of a solemn beginning. I’m at a crisis in Jacob: want to finish in 20,000 words, written straight off in a frenzy. And I must pull myself together to bring it off. . . Spring has miraculously renewed herself. Pink almond blossoms are in bud. Callow birds crow. In short, he’s out of love & in love, & contemplated eloping with a Spaniard in a motor car. “But after all, I said to myself as I walked back, I like to think of my book & my armchair. It’s terrible, terrible. I can’t give up my old friends after all” (86).

1930

Diary Vol. 3

The Diary of Virginia Woolf: Volume III 1980 (ed. by Anne Olivier Bell with Andrew McNeillie) 1925-1930.

Sunday 26 January
I am 48: we have been at Rodmell—a wet, windy day again; but on my birthday we walked among the downs, like the folded wings of grey birds; & saw first one fox, very long with his brush stretched; then a second; which had been barking, for the sun was hot over us; it leapt lightly over a fence & entered the furze—a very rare sight. How many foxes are there in England? At night I read Lord Chaplin’s life. I cannot yet write naturally in my new room, because the table is not the right height, & I must stoop to warm my hands. Everything must be absolutely what I am used to (285).

1931

Monday 26 January
Heaven be praised, I can truthfully say on this first day of being 49 that I have shaken off the obsession of Opening the Door, & have returned to Waves: & have this instant seen the entire book whole, & how I can finish it–say in under 3 weeks (7).

1941

VW Diary Vol. 5

The Diary of Virginia Woolf: Volume V 1984 (ed. by Anne Olivier Bell with Andrew McNeillie) 1936-1941.

Sunday 26 January
A battle against depression, rejection (by Harper’s of my story & Ellen Terry) routed today (I hope) by clearing out kitchen; by sending the article (a lame one) to N.S.: & by breaking into PH 2 days, I think, of memoir writing.

This trough of despair shall not, I swear, engulf me. The solitude is great. Rodmell life is very small beer. The house is damp. The house is untidy. But there is no alternative. Also days will lengthen. What I need is the old spurt. “Your true life, like mine, is in ideas” Desmond said to me once. But one must remember one cant pump ideas. I begin to dislike introspection. Sleep & slackness; musing; reading; cooking; cycling; oh & a good hard rather rocky book–viz: Herbert Fisher. This is my prescription. We are going to Cambridge for two days. I find myself totting up my friends lives: Helen at Alciston without water; Adrian & Karin; Oliver at Bedford, & adding up rather a higher total of happiness. There’s a lull in the war. 6 nights without raids. But Garvin says the greatest struggle is about to come–say in 3 weeks–& every man, woman dog cat even weevil must girt their arms, their faith–& so on.

Its the cold hour, this, before the lights go up. A few snowdrops in the garden. Yes, I was thinking: we live without a future. Thats whats queer, with our noses pressed to a closed door. Now to write, with a new nib, to Enid Jones (354-355).

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