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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Woolf and Proust’

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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