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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

Those of us on this side of the pond, without access to BBC programming, are wishing to the lighthouseand waiting—patiently or impatiently—for the as-yet unannounced release of “Life in Squares” to PBS.

While we wait, why not put the time to good use (and help it pass more quickly) by dipping into an enticing list from the outstanding Powell’s bookstore in Portland, Oregon: “25 women to read before you die.”

“Reading Virginia Woolf is like stepping out onto a veranda, where the entire world unfurls before you in dazzling detail.” So begins an inviting introduction to Woolf and specifically to a recommendation of To the Lighthouse.

Woolf joins an eclectic array of companions, authors of both fiction and nonfiction, ranging from Mary Shelley and George Eliot to contemporary greats Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood, thought-provoking essayists Joan Didion and Rebecca Solnit, cartoonist Alison Bechdel and others.

We would all make some swaps—I’d make room for Mary McCarthy, Alice Munro, Penelope Lively—but there’s something for everyone here, both tried and true favorites and some new discoveries. I’ve been wanting to read Clarice Lispector for years—perhaps this is the sign I’ve been waiting for.

I’d rather be watching Life in Squares, but what can you do?

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Most of the reactions below come via Twitter, where “Life in Squares” was a trending topic after the first episode aired last night with an audience of between 1.85 and 1.9 million UK viewers.

In the aftermath, one must-read review is by Frances Spalding, acclaimed biographer of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Her piece on The Conversation website is titled “Life in Squares: how the radical Bloomsbury Group fares on screen.”

Here’s a quote from it:

Her despairing cry may be echoed by some viewers of the BBC’s three-part series Life in Squares, for the Bloomsbury Group attracts many detractors as well as legions of devotees. — Frances Spalding

Be sure to click on the comments below to read Maggie Humm’s assessment of Spalding’s review, along with her own insights.

Family reaction

Before the official premiere, Emma Woolf, great-niece of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, penned her reaction for The Daily Mail: “How TV’s got my aunt Virginia Woolf so wrong.”

And Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter, Cressida Bell, posted this on Facebook the morning after:

Cressida Bell

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Woolfians around the globe have succeeded in saving the view of the lighthouse — for now.

Screenshot from 7/222/15 BBC Entertainment & Arts page

Screenshot from 7/222/15 BBC Entertainment & Arts page

They used email and social media to temporarily halt action on the ill-conceived construction plan that would destroy the view of Godrevy Lighthouse from Talland House, Virginia Woolf’s childhood summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall. The lighthouse is also a key element in Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Cornwall Council was scheduled to vote on the plan, which calls for building a block of six flats and a car park in front of Talland House, on July 14. But according to stories in the Western Morning News and BBC Cornwall, that vote will take place at a later date.

Virginia Woolf fans spread word of the ill-conceived plan via the VWoolf Listserv, the email lists of the International Virginia Woolf Society (IVWS) and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and through social media. The British society has also posted the news on its website under the heading “Save Woolf’s Talland House View.”

The IVWS put Western Morning News reporter David Wells in touch with Woolf scholars and connected BBC reporter Miles O. Davis with Cecil Woolf, Virginia and Leonard’s nephew. Cecil spoke out on the plan in today’s BBC story and on Blogging Woolf. The main BBC story is posted on the Cornwall section of  the website. A link is also posted on the Entertainment and Arts page. A version of the BBC story also ran in the Observer Chronicle.

Woolfians protested the plan by sending emails to Cornwall Council and St. Ives Town Council, posting comments on the plan, posting messages on the Cornwall Council Facebook page and tweeting to Cornwall Council @CornwallCouncil. They also contacted West Cornwall’s Minister of Parliament Derek Thomas via Twitter and email and tweeted to @EnglishHeritage for assistance.

By this morning, 66 comments against the plan, which would destroy a vital piece of literary history, were posted on the application from developer Porthminster Beach View Ltd. that is now before Cornwall Council. Talland House is considered of historical importance, as it is listed Grade II.

The decision on whether to approve or reject the plans will be made by Cornwall Council on a date to be decided. — BBC Cornwall story, “Virginia Woolf relatives defend view ‘To The Lighthouse'”

Add your voice to protect the historic view

To submit your objections to the plan, send an email to planning@cornwall.gov.uk. Include the planning application number: PA15/04337 in your message.

You can also post a comment on the planning application at this link, but you must register first. To do so, you are required to have a UK postal code. One Woolfian ant the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain suggested using the Talland House postal code, which is TR26 2EH.

Here is a comment posted by Vanessa Curtis, author of Virginia Woolf’s Women and The Hidden Houses of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

I’m saddened to read of this latest threat to such an important part of our literary heritage. Already Talland House, the beautiful listed building so loved by Virginia Woolf and her family, is boxed in by other modern developments which should not have had planning permission granted, but this latest application appears to perhaps be the worst of all. The patch of land that the proposed apartments will be built upon was once owned by Leslie Stephen, Woolf’s father. He took out a 100 year lease on the land to prevent anybody building on it and spoiling his view out towards Godrevy Lighthouse. Please, please do not let the greed of developers wipe out our literary heritage and further ruin the spectacularly attractive coastline of this part of the world. As one drives into St Ives now, the dominant view is no longer that of the Victorian buildings around Talland House, but of various high-rise blocks which would look more at home in inner-city London than overlooking the stunning sweep of Porthminster Beach.

For more details on the plan currently under consideration by Cornwall Council, visit this post: View from Talland House threatened by planned development

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Four Orlando prizes of $1,000 each and publication in The Los Angeles Review are awarded twice yearly for a poem, a short story, a short short story, and an essay by women writers.

Deadline is July 31. Get the details on the A Room of Her Own Foundation website. Submit online.

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Photo collages posted on Twitter of the gardens at Monk’s House and Charleston Farmhouse introduced me to The Dahlia Papers blog. So I could not resist taking a closer look at Nan Morris’s garden photos.

Now, though, I am wondering how Morris, a garden designer based in South London and Suffolk, got permission to snap photos inside Monk’s House. When I visited years ago, it was strictly forbidden. I want her secret!

Morris provides lots of details about the gardens at both Sussex locations and gives a well-deserved shout-out to Carolyn Zoob’s gorgeous book, Virginia Woolf’s Garden.

For more tweets about lovely gardens, follow Morris at @nonmorris. To read her posts about Monk’s House and Charleston, click on the links below.

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On a long travel day home from the Woolf conference in Pennsylvania and a side-trip to Maine, I was fortunate to be able to passgornick the time with Vivian Gornick’s new memoir, The Odd Woman and the City, a gift from my friend in Maine.

I was taken by surprise when, about halfway through the book, Gornick diverts from her mostly personal musing with a lengthy passage that starts: “She was born Mary Britton Miller in New London, Connecticut, in 1883….” She goes on to state that Mary Miller lived in New York and wrote stories and poetry that went unnoticed. Then in 1946, at the age of 63, she published a novel, Do I Wake or Sleep, under the pen name Isabel Bolton. It was followed in 1949 and 1952 by The Christmas Tree and Many Mansions.

Her work was lauded by Diana Trilling in The Nation and Edmund Wilson in The New Yorker, who likened her modernist prose to Virginia Woolf’s. She nevertheless slipped into obscurity until the nineties, when the three novels were re-published as a trilogy, New York Mosaic. Yet she remains unknown today. She published two volumes of poetry, a memoir, and another novel before she died in 1975.

Gornick focuses on her own theme, the self and the city. In Do I Wake or Sleep, Millicent in New York — much like Clarissa Dalloway in London — observes: “What a strange, what a fantastic city … there was something here that one experienced nowhere else on earth.”

I was fascinated even before I learned about the comparison to Woolf. I found New York Mosaic at the public library and launched into it. Do I Wake or Sleep is Millicent’s interior voice over a 24-hour period — sound familiar?  The prose is stunning. Here’s a sentence from the first page:

There was, she thought, a magic, an enchantment — these myriad rainbow lights, now soft and low, now deeper, stronger — all the stops and chords and colors played like organ voluntaries, over the moon, the clouds, the grass.

I’m still reading, completely hooked. I’ve ordered the trilogy — I have to have it, a library copy just won’t do — along with her memoir. I’m off and running on what looks to be a fairly extensive research project and have had interest expressed in a profile I plan to write. Too bad I didn’t find her before the conference on Woolf’s Female Contemporaries!

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Ozlem and her Work

Ozlem displaying her work at the “Mark on the Wall” exhibition

It has been almost one month since the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, but I am still thinking about all of the great events and presentations from the conference.

One of the highlights from this year’s conference was the “Mark on the Wall” exhibition, which presented art work that was inspired by Virginia Woolf and her female contemporaries. Artists from around the world were represented, and I had the lucky opportunity to interview one of the artists whose work was selected for this exhibition.

Ozlem Habibe Mutaf Buyukarman is an assistant professor of graphic design at Yeditepe University in Turkey. After seeing her piece, “Do Not Call Me Anything IV” displayed at the “Mark on the Wall” exhibition, I asked her a few questions about her work:

In what ways do you think this piece connects with Virginia Woolf and/or the Modernist movement?

Ozlem: In my artwork “Do Not Call Me Anything IV”, you can see knee high stockings worn with trousers by a woman (who probably has a room of her own). The knee-high women’s stockings are a metaphorical expression of stepping forward. This is what modernist women writers and artists do I believe. Along with the stockings I placed labels/tags which stand for the prejudice against women. Thus, the name of the series is “Do Not Call Me Anything.” Also, in terms of style, this is not a decorative piece or an oil on canvas; it is based on experimental, instantaneous involvements of objects and textures presenting the drama of modern life with its consuming, exhausting and unstable condition. This differentiates it and makes it modern, I suppose.

“Do Not Call Me Anything IV”

Much of your work, including “Do Not Call Me Anything IV,” seems to put a focus on women’s clothing. In what ways does your work speak to and for women?

Ozlem: The clothing items are somehow the witnesses of our lives, our passions, our emotional commitments, the violence we faced to both physical and psychological in a modern, demanding world. They may symbolise the abandoned self or the avant-gardist… I present the aesthetics of personal items while documenting them, a moment of confrontation.

As a female artist, what kinds of struggles do you think that women artists face today?

Ozlem: Still many… women have to wear many hats at a time. And women writers or artists around the world are facing many struggles such as censorship, visibility and representational issues. Virginia Woolf inspired many women all around the world.

You can view Ozlem’s work and all of the exhibition selections in the “Mark on the Wall Online Catalogue”.

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