Archive for the ‘Woolf as Commodity’ Category

Virginia Woolf is already a superhero at my house, but she may soon be one on theSuperhero Woolf commercial market as well.

One day, as I sat at my laptop in a room of my own, my eight-year-old twin grandchildren pulled Virginia Woolf down from her shelf, grabbed Wonder Woman, and had the two battling each other, as well as Spiderman and Aquaman.

When Woolf seemed to be losing against the comic book heroes, I told my grandchildren that she had a superpower of her own: The power of the pen. That stopped them in their tracks.

Now a company called Little Giants is launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a toy line that will include Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi and Andy Warhol.

Yes, all four figures are men — and three out of four are white. But the company says that if all goes well, it will add Woolf to the lineup, along with Frieda Kahlo.

I want to see that. And maybe my grandchildren will too.

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Virginia Woolf, pugilist, is featured in a Kenyon College video designed to market the Ohio liberal arts school to prospective students.

In the video “Kenyon College: Beneath The Beech – Thomas Hawks Fears Virginia Woolf,” Kenyon Senior Chace Beech interviews English professor Thomas Hawks about the likely street fighting skills of writers James Joyce, T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

Hawk’s assessment? “Woolf could probably take them both.”

The video, which begins with the line “Words… why do we need them?”  is part of a quirky series of promotional videos produced by the college titled “Beneath the Beech.”

“I think they show how approachable and engaged Kenyon professors are with the students,” Beech said.


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A CNBC story reports on a collection of Virginia Woolf’s letters and other items that is for sale en bloc for $4 million. The letters are beingCNBC letter sold by Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in Manhattan.

They include letters from Woolf to her nephew Julian Bell, as well as letters from Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Vita Sackville-West.

The most poignant, said Horowitz during the CNBC interview, is one written by Vita Sackville-West, describing Woolf’s suicide and the days leading up to the discovery of her body. “It’s really one of the most touching collections of letters I’ve had the privilege of handling,” Horowitz said.

The private collection was built over a period of 40 years by William B. Beekman, who started collecting Woolf items as a Harvard undergraduate before Quentin Bell’s 1972 biography brought her renewed interest from the academy, according to Horowitz’s site. Included in the collection are items that span Woolf’ life, such as photographs, letters, inscribed books and dust jackets.

Although the CNBC story put the value of the collection at $4 million, the Horowitz website prices it at $4.5 million. The collection was put on the market and exhibited in East Hampton last July.

In 2011, Horowitz published a digital catalog of Bloomsbury materials to its website. Virginia Woolf, The Hogarth Press, and The Bloomsbury Group contains more than 150 first editions, association copies, letters and more.

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Like nearly everyone with a laptop, I got hooked on Pinterest a while back. I set up a Woolf sightings board and several others as well.md shoes

In the process I found a craft idea, originally posted by the see kate sew blog, that featured covering a pair of ballet flats with text cut from an old dictionary. I already had a spare pair of ballet flats at home, along with a second-hand copy of Mrs. Dalloway, so I added a Woolfian twist to the dictionary shoe re-do.

Mrs. Dalloway shoe re-do

I cut text from Woolf’s novel that related to Mrs. Dalloway’s walk to the flower shop, Mulberry’s, on the morning of her party so she could “buy the flowers herself.” I then decoupaged the chosen text on a pair of black ballet flats. I made two color copies of the novel’s front cover, cut out the novel’s title on both, and glued the titles inside the shoes to cover the shoe labels.

boxThe project, which I completed as a last-minute entry in the Medina County AAUW Branch’s repurposing book project, was fun — and strangely moving. Cutting Woolf’s lovely phrases apart and rearranging them along the toes, backs and sides of a pair of comfy shoes made me appreciate the wonder of her words in a whole new way. Manipulating her words and using them to create wearable art gave me an entirely new appreciation for the beauty of her writing. Every phrase seemed precious, too precious to end up on the kitchen floor. But the available surfaces were small — size seven to be exact — so space was limited, and the words I pasted had to be carefully chosen.

When I finished the shoes, I decorated a wooden box to contain them. I covered the exterior in a London map andbox open the interior with scrapbook paper featuring Tower Bridge and words about London. I added a silver charm of Big Ben, picked up in London during a 2004 trip, as the finishing touch. It dangled by a ribbon from the metal box clasp, hovering over Mrs. Dalloway’s walk, just as the sound of Big Ben did in the novel.

Mrs. Dalloway’s Walk

When I entered the final project, which I dubbed Mrs. Dalloway’s Walk, in the AAUW competition, I included the following rationale:

Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925), which is set in London, inspired this piece, which tells the story of Clarissa Dalloway’s walk from her home near Westminster to Mulberry’s, a flower shop on Bond Street, to purchase flowers for a party she is giving that evening.

Tshoes sideext from the stream-of-consciousness novel covers a pair of black ballet flats, shoes that would be comfortable enough for walking around London. The text is carefully chosen to include key lines, phrases and words that describe what Clarissa and other characters think as they travel London’s streets on that “day in June” on which the action takes place.

A salvaged map of London covers the used wooden wine box in which the shoes sit. The exterior of the box lid features the area through which Mrs. Dalloway’s walked, while the front features Bloomsbury, the neighborhood where Woolf lived during much of her adult life. The silver Big Ben charm is included because the sounds of this London landmark tie the novel’s characters together and anchor them in time. The paper that lines the box’s interior features words, Woolf’s trademark, along with the Tower Bridge, a sight Woolf mentions in her diaries and her essay “The Docks of London,” published in Good Housekeeping in 1931.

box with shoesThe main elements of this piece are re-purposed. They include a well-used copy of the Penguin Popular Classics edition of the novel purchased at a thrift shop, a map of London pulled from an old issue of National Geographic, a pair of unused ballet flats purchased at the Goodwill, and a wooden wine box donated by a friend. I purchased the charm while on a trip to England in 2004. This is the first it has seen the light of day. It has been waiting for this moment.

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In this week’s Woolf sightings, we have more on The Dalloway, the new “lesbian-leaning” restaurant opened by a simpatico model in New York City (1 and 2). We also have a link to the article “The Education of Virginia Woolf” that appears in the current issue of The Atlantic, which is rapidly being passed around Facebook (8).

  1. Out Model Kim Stolz Opens Lesbian-Leaning Restaurant in New YorkSheWiredThe Dalloway
    In true literary lesbian style, the bar and restaurant’s moniker is a send-up to the well-known titular character of bisexual author Virginia Woolf’s 1925 tome. As a self-described Woolf nerd, Stolz told New York Magazine that she resonates with the 
  2. 180 Minutes With Kim StolzNew York Magazine
    “She was never really able to be comfortable in her skin. Knowing the struggles that Virginia Woolf went through, it’s an ode to her and a thank-you to her,” Stolz says, taking stock of the now rollicking scene. “But Amanda will tell you she just 
  3. Victorian Bloomsbury, By Rosemary AshtonThe Independent9780300154474
    When Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa moved into 46 Gordon Square in 1904, in what Henry James had described as “dirty Bloomsbury”, the family was appalled at the young women’s choice of this profoundly unfashionable district of London, and 
  4. Browbeaten by a new cultural subspeciesSydney Morning Herald
    Neither highbrow intellectuals or lowbrow plebs, the middlebrow copped a pasting as far back as the 1940s from writer Virginia Woolf, who described them as ”of middlebred intelligence … in pursuit of no single object, neither art itself nor life 
  5. ‘Looking for Transwonderland,’ ‘Route 66 Still Kicks,’ and MoreNew York Times
    This season’s travel books abound with journeys inspired by literary lions — a trip to a Greek island in pursuit of the teachings of Epicurus, a hike along the river where Virginia Woolf died, an excursion to the birthplace of the Nigerian writer Ken 
  6. At Your Service: The Birth of Privates on ParadeThe Arts Desk
    It was in Singapore in 1947 that my real education began. For the first time I read Lawrence, Forster, Virginia Woolf, To the RiverMelville, Graham Greene and Bernard Shaw’s political works, becoming a lifelong Leftie. When Stanley Baxter explained Existentialism 
  7. The Education of Virginia WoolfThe Atlantic
    Born into the highest stratum of the English intellectual aristocracy, Virginia Woolf—whose set included some of the kingdom’s most illustrious families, many of its finest writers and painters, its greatest poet, its most brilliant economist—could 
  8. Free Classic Literature Newsletter! Sign UpAbout – News & Issues
    The Waves – Virginia Woolf The Waves is a novel (first published in 1931) by Virginia Woolf. The book is a narrative in Woolf’s infamous stream-of-consciousness style. Here, Woolf gives into experimentation, as the six friends are lulled–drawn with 
  9. Book News: Sasha And Malia’s Reads, Literary AlpinismNew Yorker (blog)
    At the Paris Review, Alex Siskin on Leslie Stephen, the father of Virginia Woolf and a mountaineer who made important contributions to the literature of alpinism. “A book is really like a lover. It arranges itself in your life in a way that is 
    Climbing the Alps with Leslie Stephen.
  10. Video of the Day: Is the “Crazy Artist” Stereotype True?SF Weekly (blog)
    An ear here, a life there: Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath each had their own way of dealing withMarbles mood disorders. In her new graphic novel, cartoonist and storyteller Ellen Forney asks an important question: For artists, are mental 

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Got pounds? British pounds, that is. Then get these four cool Virginia Woolf-related items available on Folksy.

They include:

  • a ceramic mug decorated with cover shots of Woolf books,
  • a cushion made from a Penguin book tea towel,
  • an art print of the book covers, and
  • an art print of a room of one’s own.

They range in price from £8.50 to £60.

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So many Woolf sightings and so little time. I found both of these on the Virginia Woolf author Facebook page, which is not to be confused with my own Virginia Woolf Facebook page noted in the right sidebar.

The first find is a 13 x 9-inch print of an artist’s illustration of the Virginia Woolf quote, “There is no denying the wild horse in us.” Titled “Horse,” it’s for sale in the artist’s Etsy shop, Obvious State, for $24.

As the New York artist Evan Robertson explains, “I took little snippets of text and ideas from some of my favorite authors (with some notable exceptions that I’m saving), and let the words be a springboard for an illustration. The illustrations incorporate and interact with the text and hopefully add up to something that engages the mind as much as the eye.”

He has completed 23 of a planned 50 illustrations following that scheme.

The second is a drawing by Ellie Curtis that is based on Woolf’s novel The Waves. She, too, has an Etsy shop, and the fabrics you will find there seem reminiscent of the Bloomsbury Group. But why not? The designer lives in London.

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