Posts Tagged ‘Hermione Lee’

Included in this collection are links to coverage of the infamous David Gilmour and his misguided views about women writers (9-11). Balancing that is this lovely quote from Andrew Solomon in the New York Times:

Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon (screenshot from NYT website)

Virginia Woolf is my other favorite. I feel as if she is writing not simply about the mind, but about my mind. Her books are as visceral to me as music. I find that Woolf, like chocolate, requires rationing; I could easily become emotionally obese if I let myself consume her work too often. – Andrew Solomon (14) in this week’s Woolf Sightings

  1. Book of Ages: Franklin’s sis no footnote, Columbus Dispatch
    In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf speculated about what life would have been like for an imaginary sister of Shakespeare. Not good, she concludes: Her 
  2. READING & WRITING : The idea of secrets, E Kantipur
    The first time a publisher approached Hermione Lee with the idea of writing a biography of Virginia Woolf, she said no. Then a second publisher suggested the 
  3. Book Review: ‘The Letters of C. Vann Woodward’, Wall Street Journal
    For those whom the novelist Virginia Woolf called common readers, intending no condescension, history is often problematic, seeming to offer a choice between 
  4. Searching for supermen, Daily Californian
    Virginia Woolf tells me not to be angry all the time because no one wants to listen to angry people. So this week, I’m taking a break from lamenting the sad state 
  5. ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ Adapts Woolf and DurasNew York Times
    Who can say whether one of Shakespeare’s sisters was a frustrated writer, as Virginia Woolfimagined in “A Room of One’s Own”? But Peter Brook’s daughter, 
  6. Horley’s Archway Theatre turns to tale of a Tudor queen, This is Local London
    Horley’s Archway Theatre is currently presenting Eileen Atkins’ play, Vita and Virginia, depicting the love affair between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, …
  7. The Journal Is The Destination (A Hat Tip To Dan Eldon), NPR (blog)
    Habitual journaling has given society insight into the minds of great writers, from Franz Kafka to Virginia Woolf. But how does a photographer keep a journal?
  8. Julian Barnes’ ‘grief memoir’ is really a love story, Wicked Local (blog)
    Great writers can make just about anything work. Virginia Woolf made us believe Orlando went to sleep a man and awoke a woman. We never think twice about 
  9. University Of Toronto Students Protest English Instructor Who Is ‘Not Business Insider Australia
    Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would 
  10. University Of Toronto Literature Professor Says He’s “Not Interested , BuzzFeed
    Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach  And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a 
  11. David Gilmour’s Refusal To Teach Women Writers Sparks Rage Huffington Post Canada
    Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories,” Gilmour said. “When I was given this job I said I would 
  12. Sage Is Culver City’s Best New Vegan Restaurant, Huffington Post
    Virginia Woolf once wrote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” If Virginia Woolf had traveled down Sepulveda Boulevard in 
  13. Things to do in Paradise/Downtown, Sept. 24-30, Las Vegas Review-Journal
    The one-man show features Jade Esteban portraying Plato, Virginia Woolf, Freddy Mercury and others. The event is part of The Centerpiece, a queer arts and 
  14. Andrew Solomon: By the Book, New York Times
    The author of “Far From the Tree” loves reading Virginia Woolf, but in small portions. “I could easily become emotionally obese if I let myself consume her work 
  15. The End of Fundamentalism, Washington Post (blog)
    On or about September 19th, 2013, the world changed, to paraphraseVirginia Woolf. I’ve been waiting for the definitive character of the Era change that’s been 
  16. Fascinating fact:, Hollywood.com
    Actress Christina Carty has been cast as writer Virginia Woolf in the upcoming season of hit period drama Downton Abbey. Hugh Jackman’s wife pens op-ed 
  17. ‘A Man’s World’ Is Being Revived at Metropolitan Playhouse, New York Times
    Almost 20 years before Virginia Woolf published “A Room of One’s Own,” the playwright Rachel Crothers sought the same thing for her heroine in her 1910 ..
  18. James Joyce in 1920s Paris, The New Republic
    On this day in 1922, Virginia Woolf took to her diary to pan what she had read of James Joyce’s Ulysses. “An illiterate, underbred book it seems to me,” she wrote 
  19. ‘Orlando’ review: Magically shifting gender, time, San Francisco Chronicle
    That’s as true for Sarah Ruhl’s lovingly crafted adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s time-bending, gender-shifting novel as it is for Woolf’s mesmerizing prose.
  20. Who’s Afraid?, New York Times
    Adam Kirsch mentions, by way of contrast, the example of Virginia Woolf’s work for The Times Literary Supplement, where, as he puts it, “she specialized in 
  21. Literary Figures and Their Wild Pets, Huffington Post
    We love images of famous writers with their pets: Edith Wharton with her lapdogs, Virginia Woolf with her spaniel, gloomy Ernest Hemingway cuddling one of his …
  22. La Mama’s Shakespeare’s Sister Playwright Irina Brook on Being a TheaterMania.com
    La MaMa is hosting her company’s newest play, Shakespeare’s Sister (or La Vie Matérielle) — a piece Brook adapted from writings by Virginia Woolf (A Room of …
  23. Self Publishing: Here To Stay?, Huffington Post
    In 1917 Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard unpacked a small printing press in the front room of their home. They set up the Hogarth Press to enable them 
  24. Conrad, Woolf to visit Iran with two novellasIran Book News Agency
    ‘Jacob’s Room’ is the third novel by Virginia Woolf, first published in 1922. The novel centres, in a very ambiguous way, around the life story of the protagonist 
  25. Virginia Woolf and the “Melymbrosia” manuscriptThe Sunday Times Sri Lanka
    It wasn’t until 2007 when I bought the late Paul Evans’ 4000 Bloomsbury book collection and started building the Literary Museum at Glenthorne that I 
  26. Genre benders: where fiction and photography meet, Irish Times
     suggesting bold new possibilities for literature. They were André Breton’s surrealist masterwork Nadja, and Virginia Woolf’s gender-bending farce Orlando.
  27. First edition of TS Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ sells for £4500, New York Daily News (blog)
    Though Virginia Woolf is known for her introspective meditations on femininity and the self, she and her husband Leonard were also founders of a publishing 
  28. Preserve and protect, South China Morning Post
    Her name may not mean much to readers, except for those who are familiar with the five volumes ofVirginia Woolf’s diary, which she edited meticulously, 
  29. Michael Palin’s 6 favorite books, The Week Magazine
    The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vols. 1–5 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $139). One of the greatest travelers of the mind, Virginia Woolf was always asking questions of 
  30. 11 Authors Who Kept Their Day Jobs, Huffington Post
    Along with her husband, Leonard WoolfVirginia founded publishing house Hogarth Press. The pair published Russian translations, psychoanalytic works, and 
  31. Vocational Training From a Label Near You, New York Times
    She went on to receive a master’s degree in literature at the Sorbonne, where she wrote dissertations on the works of Zelda Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf.

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The Multiple Muses of Virginia WoolfThis week a member of the VWoolf Listserv asked for resources she could peruse regarding Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust. As usual, list participants came quickly to the rescue. Here are some of the resources they shared:

From Anne Fernald:

“There is a lovely scene in the closing pages of the first section of vol. 1 of Proust of watching Japanese paper flowers unfold in water. It’s a scene that I think Woolf drew on, more than the madeleine–especially, say in Peter Walsh’s memories of Sally’s flowers at Bourton.

“More generally, Proust shared Woolf’s fascination with parties. Like Woolf, he was a serious, contemplative writer who took seriously the kinds of social foibles that might unfold at a party like the one Clarissa Dalloway gives. Knowing that Woolf read Proust while writing Dalloway is helpful: I imagine that his example fortified her sense that the topic, flimsy in the wrong hands, had possibilities for greatness.

“Woolf’s diaries, Hermione Lee, Sallye Greene, and Nicola Luckhurst might all be places to comb for more.”

Articles and books shared by several list members:

  • Pericles Lewis. “Proust, Woolf, and Modern Fiction.” Romanic Review. 99:1
  • Cheryl Mares, “‘The Burning Ground of the Present: Woolf and Her Contemporaries.”  Virginia Woolf and the Essay. Eds. Beth Rosenberg and Jeanne Dubino. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1997. 117-36.
  • “Reading Proust: Woolf and the Painter’s Perspective.” The Multiple Muses of Virginia Woolf. Ed. Diane Gillespie. University of Missouri Press, 1993. 58-89.
  • “Woolf’s Reading of Proust.” Reading Proust Now. Eds. Mary Ann Caws and Eugene Nicole. Peter Lang, 1990.
  •  J. Hillis Miller writes of Proust and the party in Mrs. Dalloway in Fiction and Repetition.
  • Emily Delgarno has a chapter on “Proust and the Fictions of the Unconscious” in her Virginia Woolf and the Migrations of Language

And quotes from Woolf on Proust shared by two on the list:

Last night I started on Vol 2 [Jeunes Filles en Fleurs] of him (the novel) and propose to sink myself in it all day. [. . . ] But Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensification that he procures?theres something sexual in it?that I feel I can write like that, and seize my pen and then I can’t write like that. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me: it becomes an obsession. But I must return to Swann” – Letter to Roger Fry, 6 May 1922 (Letters II 525)

My great adventure is really Proust. Well–what remains to be written after that? I’m only in the first volume, and there are, I suppose, faults to be found, but I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes. How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped–and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance?  One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes physical–like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined. Far otherwise is it with Ulysses. – Letter to Roger Fry, 3 October 1922 (Letters II 565-6)

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Wolfson College

Wolfson College

Leslie Stephen and his brother will be the topic at the next English Association’s series of Fellows’ events at Wolfson College, Oxford, on Saturday, June 22, at 2 p.m. Hermione Lee will speak on “Brotherly Biography.”

Beginning with Leslie Stephen’s life of his brother, James Fitzjames Stephen, the talk will explore the relationship between autobiography and biography when siblings write each others’ life stories.

Lee’s lecture will be followed by High Tea in the College Buttery.

Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, include admission plus High Tea. Prices range from £15 to £20.

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 I finally read Pat Barker’s Toby’s Room. My library’s reservation system is fantastic but does require some patience! Paula first Toby's Roommentioned it here last summer, noting the allusions—in more than the title—to Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, as did Hermione Lee, who reviewed it for The Guardian.

I read Barker’s Life Class around that time before I knew it was the prequel to Toby’s Room, and I posted on the “near sightings,” the Bloomsbury references when the protagonist, Slade art student Elinor Brooke, has tea at Ottoline Morrell’s.

Elinor’s brother Toby, like Jacob before him, dies serving in World War I, and like Jacob is revealed mostly through family and friends. Toby’s Room is still Elinor’s story, in which she seeks to unearth the mysterious details of his death. Woolf appears in entries from Elinor’s diary. She records her impressions from a weekend at Charleston Farmhouse, presumably at the invitation of Vanessa Bell:

“VB was in the drawing room when I arrived, with her sister, Mrs. Woolf. I’ve met her more than once, though I don’t think she remembered me and gave me a lukewarm welcome. Doesn’t like young women, I suspect. I thought the talk would be well above my head, but they were quite relaxed and gossipy and we chatted on easily enough. Or they did. I was too nervous to say much. It was like listening to an old married couple. They’ve got that habit of completing each other’s sentences…”

The other guests are “the conscientiously objecting young men” working at the farm, none of whom, she realizes, are going to be interested in her. There’s talk of the war at dinner, and Woolf talks about “how women are outside the political process and therefore the war’s got nothing to do with them.”

Elinor is struck by Woolf’s observation but finds it less convincing when she later tries to echo the sentiment herself. Barker has no such problem making her case. In both novels, she challenges readers to explore the role of art and artists in time of war, heightening the drama with real, fictional and hybrid characters as she did in her Regeneration trilogy.

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Sally Green posed a question this week on the VWoolf Listserv that asked, “Did Virginia Woolf have anything to say about historical memory, or issues of memory, say, the way Proust thought about memory (or the way we do today when engaging in “memory studies”?

Feedback from the list suggested the following Woolf works that touch on memory:

  • Woolf’s last novel Between the Acts, addresses history as memory.
  • “On Being Ill,” an essay she wrote on the caves of thought one wanders when ill — memories included. Read a Guardian interview with Woolf biographer Hermione Lee on the topic: “Prone to Fancy.”
  • Portions of The Waves alluding to T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” touch on collective and historical memory.

Influences on Woolf and memory included:

  • Proust’s Recherche, which she read while writing her major novels.
  • Wordsworth’s “The Prelude,” which she read  while composing The Waves (D 3: 236).

Secondary sources on Woolf and memory included:

  • The Formation of 20th-Century Queer Autobiography by Georgia Johnston
  • Virginia Woolf and the Great War by Karen Levenback
  • Modernism, Memory, and Desire: T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf by Gabrielle McIntire.  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
    “Proust, Woolf, and Modern Fiction,” by Pericles Lewis. The Romantic Review 99: 1 (2008). Download the PDF.

I also found these:

Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind – Orlando

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