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Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Woolf’

Produced by BBC TV, this 1970 documentary, Virginia Woolf: A Night’s Darkness, A Day’s Sail, was unavailable for years but is now posted on YouTube.

It is a gem, including footage of Talland House, the Stephen family’s summer home, and Godrevy Lighthouse. It also includes interviews with Leonard Woolf (from 1967), Angelica Garnett, Quentin Bell, George Rylands, Elizabeth Bowen, Duncan Grant, Benedict Nicolson, Lord David Cecil, Dame Janet Vaughn, Raymond Mortimer, and Louie Mayer (the Woolfs’ cook at Monk’s House). They talk about Woolf’s character traits, as well as her genius, her writing habits and her love of London. And they discuss the Bloomsbury Group.

Portions of Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and A Room of One’s Own (1929) are also read on camera. And you’ll see the actual Hogarth press.

She always asked everybody, ‘What did you have for breakfast.’ – Angelica Garnett

 

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Village in the Jungle

A 1926 edition of Leonard’s novel

Sri Lankan Film Director Lester James Peries (LJP) recently sat down for an interview with The Sunday Times Sri Lanka in which he discussed how Leonard Woolf’s anti-imperialist 1913 novel based on Woolf’s experiences as a colonial civil servant in Ceylon, Village in the Jungle, inspired his 1980 film Baddegama.
Peries calls Leonard Woolf’s novel a “masterpiece.” From the interview:

Justifying the efforts he made to bring the novel closer to Lankan viewers, he said ‘Village in the Jungle’ is a masterpiece, authored by a literary giant of the twentieth century – the only fiction written by a colonial ruler on Lankans.

The novel projected the lives of peasants in a village surrounded by the jungles of Hambantota. The author, who was the Government Agent of the Hambantota District and thus himself an agent of imperialism, revealed the insensitivities and injustices of the colonial masters. Woolf was also one of the first who saw the cracks in the British Empire.

LJP was attracted not just by the narrative and literary excellence alone. He saw its sociological and political relevance which pushed him to search for a Sinhala translation.

Leonards-in-Ceylon-300x231

Leonard Woolf in Ceylon (front center)

Peries also celebrates the lasting influence of Woolf’s novel:

Baddegama

Film Cover for Baddegama (1980)

LJP points out that the novel written in 1913 has survived for over hundred years and inspired not only film-makers but authors like Christopher Ondaatje who in the hundredth year of Woolf’s arrival in Ceylon in 1904 retraced his footsteps to the real village “Malagasnugawala” which is likely to have been Woolf’s “Baddegama.”

In 1960 Leonard and his partner Trekkie Parsons visited Ceylon and although Leonard was nervous about how he would be perceived by Sri Lankans due to, as the article describes, his role “as a former agent of imperialism,” he was warmly welcomed:

[Leonard] had feared he would be vilified as a former agent of imperialism but found himself commended for the part he played which contributed to the then British government rethinking their role which helped Ceylon to gain Independence. Woolf, as LJP points out, had done a great service to Sri Lanka.

In 1980, Baddegama was invited to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight.

You can watch a short clip of the film Baddegama (with English subtitles).

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An email from Cecil Woolf this morning reminded me that today would be his uncle Leonard’s 135th birthday.

I posted the reminder on Facebook and sent out a tweet about it.

Others (@manuelardingo @diconodioggi @SomeOfHerParts) picked it up and added to the conversation, resulting in a string of tweets about the day — and how one marks it.

This one included a photo of Virginia’s Nov. 25, 1928 diary entry:

 

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The University of St. Andrews has acquired an archive of dozens of letters from Virginia Woolf’s friends and family collected by biographer Brownlee Kirkpatrick.

The collection includes two previously unseen photographs of Woolf.

The material will be made accessible to academics and the general public in a Special Collections Reading Room at the University of St Andrews. The Special Collections staff and the staff in the school of English have been working together to develop a Virginia Woolf and Hogarth Press research collection.

“This archive will put St Andrews even more firmly on the map as a world-ranking centre for the study of literary modernism in general and Virginia Woolf as one of its great proponents in particular,” Woolf scholar Susan Sellers told the Herald Scotland. She is also the author of the award-winning novel Vanessa and Virginia.

 

 

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This video, an interview with Leonard Woolf regarding Maynard Keynes, is making its way around social media. It is less than a minute long, but it’s still wonderful to see him on film speaking.

At one time, there was another video of Leonard posted on YouTube. In it, he spoke about Virginia and the Bloomsbury Group. That video has been taken down due to permission problems.

If you’d like to listen to more about Leonard, download the podcasts from the Leonard Woolf Symposium held in 2012 at the University of Oxford.

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Did you know? There is a film version of Leonard Woolf’s forgotten Sri Lankan novel, The Village in the Jungle (1913).

Also titled “Baddegama,” the 1981 film features Arthur C. Clarke in the role of Leonard. Directed by Lester James Peries, the film is in Sinhala with English subtitles.

The film’s court scenes with Woolf were shot in the actual courtroom where Woolf presided when he was in the British Civil Service. The 130-minute film was shown at the 1981 San Francisco International Film Festival.

The description of the film on the website reads:

“BADDEGAMA” is based on the celebrated novel written by Leonard Woolf who was the Government Agent in Sri Lanka in colonial times. A powerful story of village life in the Deep South it reveals the appalling misery of the villages exploited the head man and his associates. The film is a vivid and compelling record of their life.

The University of Oxford hosted a March 9, 2013, symposium to mark the centenary of Woolf’s novel and now offers three podcasts from the day online:

  1. ‘The Village in the Jungle’ as colonial memoir: Woolf writing home
  2. ‘The Village in the Jungle’ Roundtable Discussion
  3. Sri Lankan Traditions and the Imperial Imagination: Leonard Woolf’s ‘The Village in the Jungle’

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The event is free and open to the public.Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 8.45.49 PM

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