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Posts Tagged ‘Alice Lowe’

Here’s Blogging Woolf contributor Alice Lowe’s essay on the work world for women in the not too distant past. She’s the author of two monographs published by Cecil Woolf Publishers:

Alice Lowe

Alice Lowe

  • Virginia Woolf as Memoirist: “I am made and remade continually” – Bloomsbury Heritage Monograph #72, Cecil Woolf Publishers
  • Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction – Bloomsbury Heritage Monograph #58, Cecil Woolf Publishers, 2010

[This essay was originally published in Crab Creek Review, Vol. 2016, #1] But can she type? Back in the early 1970s, when my latent feminist consciousness was starting to awaken, I bought a poster, a 16 by 24-inc…

Source: But can she type?

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Here’s a post from Blogging Woolf contributor Alice Lowe on Isabel Bolton, who has been compared by critics to Virginia Woolf. In this post, Alice links us to an essay on the mid-20th-century author that she published in Bloom and The Millions.

Alice Lowe blogs ... about writing & reading & Virginia Woolf

My discovery of the obscure mid-20th-century novelist Isabel Bolton led to extensive research and an exploratory essay. I wasn’t surprised when early in my search I discovered critics’ comparisons of Bolton to Virginia Woolf, and when I read the first of Bolton’s modernist novels I could indeed see similarities in style and theme.

“In Search of Isabel Bolton” was jointly published this month by Bloom (linked here), one of my favorite sites for obvious reasons: a focus on late bloomers, qualified by the question “‘Late’ according to whom?”, and in the esteemed online magazine The Millions(linked here).

This project, on the heels of an earlier piece about Lillie Coit, is leading me into new territory in my writing, more research-based essays. I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

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The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch was accurately described in one review as disturbing and dazzling. The former made me almost close the book a number of Small Backs of Childrentimes, but the latter kept me reading. An early and provocative Woolf sighting kept me going too.

A photographer in war-torn Eastern Europe stuns the world with an image of a girl fleeing an explosion that kills her family and destroys her home. The novel’s aura of brutality isn’t just in the war, however; it’s in the response to the photo in the lives of the photographer and her friends in the U.S.

Yuknavitch tells her story through different points of view, the “voices,” all unnamed. The Writer begins her monologue:

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. What a crock. Virginia, fuck you, old girl, old dead girl.”

She proceeds: “I am not Virginia Woolf. Do you know how many women can’t afford the room, or have no help, or scratch away at things in bars, uses, closets? I prefer a different line of yours, anyway: Arrange whatever pieces come your way. Or this: Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.”

Woolf’s words are cited again by the photographer”: “Remember what Virginia Woolf said: Give back the awards, should you be cleverly tricked into believing they mean something. Do not forget that the door you are being ushered through has a false reality on the other side. Do not forget that the door is opening only on someone else’s terms, someone else’s definition of open.”

I see echoes of Woolf as well in the reflections of Yuknavitch’s voices. “The Girl,” around whom the novel revolves, muses on an unremarkable image that comes to mind: “It is ordinary because that’s how memory replayed over and over again works—each act of remembering deteriorating the original and creating a memorized copy.”

And when the writer asks herself: “What is the story of a self? What is a chronology? The history of a life?” I flash on Woolf, while in the midst of writing Roger Fry and “A Sketch of the Past,” asking in a letter to Vita Sackville-West, “How does one write a Biography? How can one deal with facts? And what is a life?”

 

 

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Here’s the latest hefty collection of Woolf sightings from around the Web, which I originally posted on Blogging Woolf’s Facebook page. They are coming fast and furious.

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I love punctuation; I’m a nut about it. I read it as carefully as I do words, measuring  flow to the lighthouseand rhythm, looking for meaning between the dots and dashes.

So a recent blog post got my attention—the author wanted to see if novels could be distinguished by their punctuation. A kindred spirit, he believes punctuation is a fundamental part of writing.

Adam J. Calhoun compares Faulkner’s Absolom, Absolom! with Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. The differences are visible and as striking as one would expect. Blood Meridian consists mostly of short, crisp sentences—seen as several consecutive periods with no intervening marks, breaks of an occasional comma, a dash here and there, more periods. The punctuation in Absalom, Absalom! looks the way Faulkner reads: he uses everything he can get his hands on, with lots of commas and far fewer periods. The author of this study calls it “statements within statements within statements.”

He adds other novels to his discussion. Surely, I thought, he’ll include Woolf! But no, he mentions Ulysses, Pride & Prejudice, A Farewell to Arms, and a few others. I couldn’t leave it there. A few years ago I wrote an essay about punctuation and drew from To the Lighthouse to demonstrate Woolf’s creative use of punctuation; I had some data to add to the picture.

To his visual comparisons of Faulkner’s and McCarthy’s textless text, I add a brief example from To the Lighthouse:

”   ,   ,   ,   ”   .   ”   ,   ”   .    ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   .   ,   ,

,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   .   .   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   —   ,   ,

,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   .   ”   ,   ”  ,   ,   ”   .   ”   ,   ,   ,   ,   .

;   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ( )   ,   .   .   .   ;   ;   ,   ,   ,   ,   ;   ;

This is just the first few paragraphs (I did several pages) but you get the idea. Woolf’s sentences skip and dance and weave with runs of commas; there are eleven of them in a 100-word sentence on the first page. You rarely see two periods (simple sentences) in a row. She peppers her prose (more evident in a more extensive sampling) with semicolons, dashes, parentheses, exclamation marks and ellipses.

Blood Meridian averages 15 words per sentence, Absalom 40, Lighthouse (in my sampling) 34, Farewell to Arms 10. Ursula LeGuin says of Hemingway: “He had many guns, several spouses, and a beard. He wrote short sentences.”

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From Alice Lowe, regular contributor to Blogging Woolf, comes this post, “Where’s Lillie?”, that links us toVirginia Woolf an eponymous essay in the journal 1966 that explores the veracity of memory. In it, Lowe says this about memory and Virginia Woolf:

Neuroscience has corroborated what novelists, poets and memoir writers have been saying for centuries. They’ve confirmed the physiological basis of memory and explored the brain activity involved in recalling stored memories, demonstrated that memory may be a result of the act of remembering and as such can be altered with every recall. Memory was the basis for Virginia Woolf’s concept of consciousness and our construction of it. She frequently questioned the accuracy of her memories and articulated her speculations. In memoir sketches she tells about her step-brother clubbing a fish with a broom handle, and immediately follows by asking: “Can I be remembering a fact?”

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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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