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Lynnette Beers is a Woolf scholar and enthusiast who teaches British literature and creative writing at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, Calif. So it’s no surprise that Virginia Woolf would make an appearance in Lynnette’s first novel, Just Beyond the Shining River

Woolf introductions

The protagonist, Gemma Oldfield, discovers a cache of letters spanning six decades at the cottage of her recently-deceased grandmother in the East Midlands village of Moulton. The letters disclose family secrets with ever-widening ramifications across generations. The story balances between the past, as revealed by Gemma in the letters, and the present, as she grapples with crises and discoveries in her own life.

Epigraphs from Moments of Being and The Waves introduce each of three sections and help to establish themes of remembrance and change, resolve and renewal. Within the letters themselves, Mary, their author, tells Emily, Gemma’s grandmother, that “I find myself one of the lucky ones to have actually met Mrs. Woolf years ago.” In another Mary writes about an article she’s researching about suicides by drowning, specifically Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf.

Sense of place

What I enjoyed most, though, was an ever-present sense of place. Lynnette brings London to life throughout the novel. As in Woolf’s own work, I was able to visualize so many scenes and sites, the Chelsea neighborhood of Gemma’s friend, their walks along the Embankment, back lanes of Soho, and more. But it was the story’s frequent surprises, its twists and turns—both Gemma’s and her grandmother’s—that kept me turning the pages.

Just Beyond the Shining River grew out of Lynnette’s MFA thesis, and involved extensive time and research in England. It has been selected as a finalist in the debut novel category for the “Goldie” awards of the Golden Crown Literary Society, which recognizes and promotes lesbian literature. Congratulations to Lynnette Beers!

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Virginia Woolf Talks, a new series of talks for town and gown on Virginia Woolf and her wavescontemporaries, is supported by Lucy Cavendish College and Literature Cambridge.

The series is free and all are welcome. It includes:

  • Dame Gillian Beer on  “Reading The Waves Across a Lifetime,” Jan. 25, 2017, at 1 p.m.
  • Nanette O’Brien on “Prunes and Custard in the Archives: Virginia Woolf and Cambridge Food in A Room of One’s Own, March 3, 2017, at 1 p.m.

Both talks will be held at Lucy Cavendish, Library Seminar Room, Lady Margaret Road, CB3 0BU.

More Woolf events in England

 

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Russian film director Daria Darinskaya has made a film trailer for Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and it was short-listed in a Russian competition that asked film makers to feature their favorite book.

“I’m a film director and I’ve always dreamed to make screening of it, but I didn’t know how, before this contest,” said Darinskaya, who plays Woolf and Rhoda in the trailer.

“It just occurred to me one day – the light suddenly turns off and the six heroes are lost in the darkness with only their flashlights in their smartphones (like the first title of the novel, ‘The Moths’). They are trying to fix the electricity and waiting for their friend Percival. I think The Waves contains the answers for all our life. I wanted to show that the six heroes of The Waves are like us – they’re common people who feel common things, but they just speak with the words from the novel.”

She is planning a full-length film adaptation of The Waves, according to the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain’s Facebook page.

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A big thank you to Blogging Woolf reader Kaylee Baucom for this interesting Woolf sighting.

This review of season four of the arrested developmentTV sitcom “Arrested Development” compares Virginia Woolf’s The Waves to a show’s character’s abuse of date-rape drugs. Season four debuted May 26, with 15 episodes streaming on Netflix.

Here is the paragraph with the Woolf sighting:

As long as we’ve got our literature degrees out, shall we make a comparison between infantile Bluth son Buster (the American treasure Tony Hale) and Benjy Compson of The Sound and the Fury? Or impose the broken-circle theme in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves on Gob’s spiraling self-medication with date-rape drugs (the phrase `Life is a roofie circle’ appears in Episode 12)? Perhaps that’s going too far, but Episode 12 also uses a blood spatter to make a `Liza with a ‘Z’ reference. Absurdity is the ambition here.

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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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I sure wish I could be in Fort Collins, Colo., today for the day-long community reading of Virginia Woolf’s 1931 masterpiece The Waves.

Today is the first annual international Wavesday, which is modeled on Bloomsday, the event held in Dublin on June 16 each year to celebrate James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Organizers differentiate the Woolf event by saying it will have “less early-morning boozing and more grammatical coherence.”

Wavesday begins at 9 a.m. and runs until evening. During that time, The Waves will be read in its entirety at nine locations, one for each section of the novel. The day will end with a potluck feast in the late evening.

A special thanks to Blogging Woolf reader Roberta Rubenstein for sharing this news. She was in Fort Collins on Sunday but wasn’t able to stay for Wavesday.

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No, not really, I’m just making a playful leap.

I read a wide assortment of literary journals for the purpose of finding appropriate targets for my own creative nonfiction. Among them, though far beyond my present aspirations, is The American Scholar, the publication of Phi Beta Kappa.

A writer friend, my mentor and model, has the talent and the good fortune to have been published there a number of times, and I’ve found it to be a brilliant periodical. It’s no surprise, then, to come across Woolf in its august pages, cited twice in the Spring 2011 issue.

Doris Grumbach writes with wit and wisdom about old age in “The View from 90,” taken from her memoir, Downhill Almost All the Way, (ironic in itself, considering Leonard Woolf’s volume of autobiography, Downhill All the Way).

She tells of Somerset Maugham being asked to speak on the virtues of being old. He stood at the podium and said, “I cannot think of one,” then stepped down.

The elderly commune together socially to combat their segregation from the general population, Grumbach says, and notes that “In Mrs. Dalloway someone says that parties are held ‘to cover the silence.’”

Also in the issue is a collection of quotations on Patience collected by Anne Matthews. Along with passages from Marcus Aurelius, Walt Whitman, Garrison Keillor and others, she includes the following from The Waves:

“Certainly one cannot read this poem without effort. The page is often corrupt and mud-stained, and torn and stuck together with faded leaves, with scraps of verbena or geranium…One must put aside antipathies and jealousies and not interrupt. One must have patience and infinite care and let the light sound, whether of spiders’ delicate feet on a leaf or the chuckle of water in some irrelevant drainpipe, unfold too.”

These sightings that I stumble across, that seem to merge different areas of my life, are the ones I enjoy the most–they give me a sense of continuity and reinforcement. And as we discover repeatedly and see in the sheer numbers as well as the broad range of the sightings that Paula posts so prolifically, Virginia Woolf’s after-life is unending.

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