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Posts Tagged ‘To the Lighthouse’

One day walking round Tavistock Square I made up, as I sometimes make up my books, ‘To the Lighthouse’ – Virginia Woolf.

That quote is the inspiration for an illustrated pamphlet published last month and created by artist Louisa Amelia Albani. Titled A Moment in the Life of Virginia Woolf: A Lighthouse Shone in Tavistock Square, the booklet visually reimagines this ‘moment’ on a summer afternoon in London’s Tavistock Square in 1925.

To do so, it uses Woolf’s own words from her letters and diaries, along with excerpts from To the Lighthouse (1927).

I ordered a copy of Albani’s pamphlet last week. It hasn’t arrived from London yet, but I did get a thank you email for my order directly from Albani — an unexpected but lovely treat.

Art exhibit too

The artist also has an online art exhibition with the same title. The exhibit includes more than a dozen pieces based on Woolf. Many of them are already sold, so if you are interested in an original piece of art connected to Woolf, take a look now.

Below is a video of the project that the artist has posted on YouTube.

 

 

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Congratulations to Kristin Czarnecki, current president of the International Virginia Woolf Society, on the publication of her memoir—The First Kristin: The Story of a Naming. While the book focuses on Kristin’s unique story, the fact that Virginia Woolf is an important part of Kristin’s life makes Woolf germane to her personal narrative as well.

Her parents named their firstborn Kristin for the fictional Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. The child died tragically at age three. Eight years later, after having another daughter and a son, they had a daughter whom they named Kristin.

Her mother told her they loved the name: “We didn’t name you after her.” But the fact of it and the need to understand and adapt to this unusual circumstance have weighed heavily on Kristin throughout her life.

Of bonds and memories

The word necronym refers to a name shared with a dead sibling. A not uncommon occurrence during times of high infant mortality, it’s unusual now, and some believe the second bearer of the name might be haunted by it. Kristin establishes her groundwork early: “Have I been haunted? By the thought of my parents’ grief, yes. By having the name, no.” She adds that she and the first Kristin have shared “a very close conspiracy,” citing Virginia Woolf’s description of her bond with her sister Vanessa.

Kristin explores her motivations and actions and how they relate to the first Kristin. Her speculations—“Who can pinpoint why we are the way we are. And who’s to say our memories bear any relation to the way things actually were?”—recall Woolf in “A Sketch of the Past” when she questions the reliability and volatility of memory.

Woolf writes in “Sketch” of her childhood days at St. Ives: “If life has a base that it stands upon; if it is a bowl that one fills and fills and fills—then my bowl without a doubt stands upon this memory.” Kristin in turn recalls happy childhood summers in Rockport, Massachusetts: “In the impact upon us of summers by the sea, Virginia Woolf and I are kindred spirits.”

Laying things to rest

We read memoirs to learn about others’ lives and to reflect on our own. Two things impressed me from reading this book. One, at a personal level, the question of how I or anyone would have felt in Kristin’s circumstances. The other is my interest in the construction of memoirs.

Conjuring Woolf’s “I now and I then” Kristin has managed to draw from two aspects of herself, the child who grew up under this considerable weight and the curious scholar who explores every nuance. She distances herself when she consults and absorbs the relevant literature, piecing it into the fabric of the story.

Just as Woolf claimed to have laid her parents to rest after writing To the Lighthouse, so Kristin considers her memoir in a similar way. It was something she needed to do, and the process opened up valuable channels of communication with her parents and siblings. She’ll never forget the first Kristin, but now, perhaps, she can move on.

Where to order it

Kristin’s memoir is available from Main Street Rag.

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From the BBC Radio Drama Collection come adaptations of seven of Virginia Woolf’s pioneering modernist novels, available on CD and as a digital download.

Out since last April, each is a full-cast dramatization by such notable actors as Vanessa Redgrave and Kristin Scott-Thomas. Each includes sound effects — background chatter and the pouring of tea in Night and Day; horses’ hoofs pounding the road and trumpets sounding in Orlando; the gramophone playing, the cows mooing, and the audience clapping in Between the Acts.

The original radio broadcasts took place between October 1980 and May 2012.

The audio versions of Woolf’s novels are available in the UK and the U.S. The cost of the 14-disk CD set in the U.S. is around $30. Playing time is 11 hours and 55 minutes.

Novels included

  • The Voyage Out (1915)
  • Night and Day (1919)
  • Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
  • To the Lighthouse (1927)
  • Orlando (1928)
  • The Waves (1931)
  • Between the Acts (1941)

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Editor’s Note: Maggie Humm provided Blogging Woolf with the story and images of her experience working with France Culture radio and the French TV channel ARTE’s series Invitation Au Voyage on programs about Virginia Woolf.

By Maggie Humm

A cold, windy day in April 2019 saw me walking and talking in Kensington for France Culture radio about Virginia Woolf’s London childhood and her own daily walks with her father. Thankfully, my talk didn’t have to be in French or delivered sideways as in The West Wing.

Maggie Humm with the French TV channel ARTE’s series Invitation Au Voyage in St. Ives

France Culture has over 3,000 podcasts and items about Virginia Woolf. Director Simonetta Greggio simply said, “I love Woolf.”

Woolf and France past

As Blogging Woolf readers know, Charles Mauron translated “Time Passes” from To the Lighthouse in Commerce as early as Winter 1926, and Woolf’s works were translated into French more quickly than into other languages.

Woolf knew several leading French intellectuals including Mauron – Jacques Raverat and Jacques-Émile Blanche – and the translation of Mrs Dalloway had a preface by André Maurois. Simone de Beauvoir discusses Woolf in The Second Sex.

To the lighthouse

Top of my bucket list however was visiting Godrevy Lighthouse thanks to Lolita Rivé of Elephant Productions who invited me to present “Cornwall Through the Eyes of Virginia Woolf” as part of the French TV channel ARTE’s series Invitation au Voyage.

It’s not possible to convey my excitement and delight reading To the Lighthouse at Godrevy Lighthouse, as well as reading The Waves on St. Ives beach.

Maggie Humm heads to Godrevy Lighthouse with the French TV channel ARTE’s series Invitation Au Voyage. As Woolf said about St. Ives Regatta Day – it made her ‘think of a French picture’ (MOB: 132). Vive la France!

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Botanic Garden gates

Today at the Literature Cambridge course on Virginia Woolf’s Gardens, we went To the Lighthouse.

Not literally. But that was the focus of both the lecture by Trudi Tate and our small group tutorials this morning, before we veered off across the land to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. There, garden historian Caroline Holmes led us on an afternoon tour of plants from all over the world.

We didn’t make it through the entire 40 acres of the garden that opened in 1846. Nevertheless, we saw, felt, and sniffed a wide variety of the more than 8,000 species growing there.

Discussing the garden in To the Lighthouse

Predictably enough, our morning discussions about To the Lighthouse focused on Woolf’s use of the garden in her 1927 novel. In her lecture, Tate touched on ways the garden connects to mother and memory, as well as the Victorian past.

Later this morning, in our four-person tutorial group led by Karina Jakubowicz, two things stand out to me from our discussion. One was the way the urns full of red trailing geraniums fail to attract Mr. Ramsay’s full attention but cause him to go off on intellectual tangents. The other was the meaning of Mrs. Ramsay’s green cashmere shawl in the “Time Passes” section. We all thought there was more to explore there.

Walking the gardens

Now for photos from the day, starting at Wolfson College, home of this year’s Literature Cambridge course, and ending with a walk through the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

The Wolfson College garden where two of the four tutorial groups at this year’s Literature Cambridge class discussed Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” this morning.

Entrance to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden on Trumpington Street

The knowledgeable Caroline Holmes provided the history of the trees and other plants at the Botanic Garden during our tour, adding a touch of humor throughout.

The iconic fountain designed by David Mellor, a focal point at the eastern end of the Botanic Garden’s Main Walk

Path through the Winter Garden

Floral close-up

One of the many trees on the Main Walk of the Botanic Garden

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