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Archive for the ‘Woolf diary’ Category

Words are important. Writers know that. Now researchers are using words to create algorithms to help prevent suicide. And they are basing their research on Virginia Woolf’s use of words in her writing before she drowned by walking into the River Ouse on March 28, 1941.VW Diary Vol. 5

Researchers from St. Joseph’s Healthcare, McMaster University and the University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil have analyzed that writing to create a word cloud from the 46 documents Woolf wrote during the last two months of her life, along with a cloud created from random samplings from 54 of her letter and diary entries prior to that period.

Reading the clouds

The contrast is stark, explains Dr. Diego Librenza-Garcia, a post-doctoral fellowship at the university in Brazil. 

The cloud compiled from her writing during the final months of her life includes such words as: little, miss, war, nothing, never, can’t and don’t, negative words that indicate Woolf’s hopelessness.

In contrast, the cloud compiled from happier times in Woolf’s life, frequently used words such as love, tomorrow, nice, hope and good.

The researchers created a “text classification algorithm” unique to Woolf’s vocabulary and concluded it would have been able to predict her suicide with 80.45 per cent accuracy. – The Spectator

An app that would build algorithms

The researchers hope to design an app that would build an algorithm for each individual patient that will analyze texts, emails and social media posts of at-risk patients who have consented to participate, so their caregivers can be alerted when intervention is needed to prevent suicide, according to an article in The Spectator

The research team’s study was published Oct. 24 in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal.

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Several months ago I responded to a call for submissions on “Books that changed myawritersdiary_woolf-1 life” at an eclectic site called The Drunken Odyssey – a podcast about the writing life. I asked the editor, John King, if he’d be interested in my story about A Writer’s Diary.  He responded with enthusiasm—turns out he’d studied with Woolf scholar Anne Fernald.

The segment was published this week in Episode 189 of The Drunken Odyssey. It starts with a lengthy discussion about Lawrence Ferlinghetti. If you want to skip ahead, I’m at the end, starting at about 51:50. My husband is a musician with a home studio, so he recorded my piece and added the accompaniment.

It’s not an overstatement that A Writer’s Diary changed my life, and I enjoyed having this opportunity to tell my tale outside of the usual Woolfian circles—to preach beyond the choir.

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Alice Lowe, contributor to Blogging Woolf, on her latest monograph in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series, “Virginia Woolf as Memoirist: ‘I am made and remade continually’”

Alice Lowe -- still writing

It’s a monograph: “a specialist work of writing on a single subject or an aspect of a subject, usually by a single author.” But indulge me–it has an ISBN, an International Standard Book Number, so let’s call it a book–a small book, but a book (we won’t trivialize it with “booklet” or “bookette”). Thank you!

That said, I’m happy to announce that Virginia Woolf as Memoirist: ‘I am made and remade continually’ has just been released by Cecil Woolf Publishers in London. This is my second inclusion in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series, which includes more than 70 publications about the lives and work of Virginia Woolf and others in the Bloomsbury group.

Cecil Woolf is the nephew of Leonard Woolf and the last living link to Virginia Woolf; he proudly points to Virginia’s mentions of him in her diary as “the boy with the sloping nose.” Cecil’s wife, Jean Moorcroft Wilson, is the general editor of the series…

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The year 2014 has started off right, with writers citing Virginia Woolf heading into the new year.

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain marked the new year by quoting Woolf’s 1 January 1935 Diary entryVW Diary Vol. 5 on its Facebook page: “I must press a good deal of work in – remembering 53 – 54 – 55 are on me. And how excited I get over my ideas! And there’s people to see.”

A writer for Delaware’s Cape Gazette uses the following famous quote of Woolf’s in a story looking back on 2013 dining experiences: ““One cannot think well, love well or sleep well if one has not dined well.”

And a story in the Tampa Bay Times, “Five things you need to know before ‘Downton Abbey’ returns Sunday,” holds out hope that Woolf will appear in a cameo role during season four of the popular PBS soap opera. But we have heard that her appearance ended up on the cutting room floor.

 

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Marta Rodríguez Iborra submitted this guest post to Blogging Woolf. It describes her impressions of Virginia Woolf’s Diary entry written one week after Katherine Mansfield’s death.

Among all the entries of the second volume of Virginia Woolf’s Diary I would like to comment briefly on the 16 January 1923 record, as I consider it to be quite unique. Katherine Mansfield died on 9 January 1923, and so a week later VW tries to describe the impact that this loss has had on her in her private diary.

Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield

VW has some difficulty in expressing what she feels. “It is strange to trace the progress of one’s feelings. […] A shock of relief? –a rival less?” However, despite the confusion and the apparent two-fold dimension of this tragic event, VW confesses to have fallen into depression. If KM is not there anymore, what is the point of writing? VW remembers that KM once wrote a letter to her with the request: “Do let us meet in the nearest future darling Virginia, and don’t quite forget”. Now in this 16 January1923 diary entry, VW wants to analyze how far she is obeying Katherine. First of all, though, before answering that question, she needs to find out what kind of relationship they had.

Any reader of VW’s diary knows that she writes in it as a professional writer. She is obviously under time pressure and she does not correct her texts as they are private, but as far as the style, the choice of themes and the depth of her observations are concerned, one notices that VW can hardly take off her mask of experienced writer, of an intellectual woman. In fact the mask is her skin. As an exquisite writer Woolf describes emotions in a literary way, at the exact distance avoiding a pathetic undertone. So even after KM’s death VW does not surrender to sentimentalism. The colour and music of her sentences are perfectly and naturally controlled by her pen. However, in this specific diary entry she exceptionally lets go. And those leaks are pure and too important to get to know our Bloomsbury diarist in a new dimension. Through the half open door of this entry the reader does not only see Virginia’s Woolf writer’s mask/face, but she/he reaches her soul, too.

In order to understand her emotion and “analyse” the situation VW writes down some of her visual impressions of KM in a kind of a flash back subjective description. “She had a look of a Japanese doll, with the fringe combed quite straight across her forehead”. Isn’t it a delicate way of describing Katherine Mansfield? And she adds “Sometimes we looked very steadfastly at each other, as though we had reached some durable relationship, independent of the changes of the body, through the eyes.” After this deep and poetic statement VW controls herself again as she doesn’t want so sound too melancholic and she continues the portrait of KM in the way she usually illustrates acquaintances or friends, namely sharply and with a particular tincture of humour or sarcasm: She had “beautiful eyes- rather doglike, brown, wide apart”, “her nose was sharp, a little vulgar” and then she moved “like some suffering animal.”

VW asks herself if KM ever cared for her and she immediately acknowledges she did. For example, the way KM looked at her, the fact that KM wanted her to read her diary. So yes, VW admits that despite the fact that KM never answered one of her letters (VW seems not be able to forget it) their friendship was true and long-lasting. “She would promise never never to forget.”

The end of the 16 January 1923 diary entry contains some traces of guilt (VW feels she did not give KM credit for her illness) and quite an important confession: VW openly admits that KM’s is “the only writing I have ever been jealous of”. Isn’t it amazing for a writer such as VW to confess she was jealous of KM’s literature? And then any good reader can feel VW’s deep pain in sentences such as “For two days I felt I had grown middle aged, & lost some spur to write.” But then again Woolf needs to gain some distance to what she has revealed, so she immediately writes that the feeling is going and that she no longer pities KM that much. However, unable to escape a sort of emotional spiral she once again admits with conviction “I have the feeling that I shall think of her at intervals all through life”. And the reason why is because “we had something in common which I shall never find in anyone else.”

In the following diary entry dated 28 January, VW confesses that she continues to write but that she does it “into emptiness” because there is no competitor anymore. That might be true, but one also feels a painful ellipsis there. VW misses KM as a human being, as a woman, as a writer, as a friend, almost as a sister, or even as an alter ego, as another I.

How could Virginia Woolf possibly ever forget Katherine Mansfield?

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