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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Woolf’

Today’s Women’s March on Washington has become a global event. As of now, more than 600 marches will take place in 57 countries around the world, including London, England.

Would Virginia Woolf march? Perhaps not. But based on her written reactions to London’s July 1919 “Peace Day” to celebrate the end of World War I, I’m certain she would have been paying close attention. She would then have used her thinking and her writing to share what she saw, heard and read.

In Three Guineas (1937), she decried the sort of nationalism we now see being promoted in so many countries  and in so many ways — from the Brexit vote in England to the Trump win in the U.S. And she would have issued warnings about the rise in fascism that could result.

With that in mind, I have dressed my little Virginia Woolf doll in a Pussy Hat and am taking her on the march. She will be accompanied by Wonder Woman, her next door neighbor on my top bookshelf.

Virginia Woolf riding a wave of Pussy Hats to the Women's March.

Virginia Woolf riding a wave of Pussy Hats to the Women’s March.

Wonder Woman and Virginia Woolf wear their Pussy Hats as they take to the streets.

Wonder Woman and Virginia Woolf wear their Pussy Hats as they take to the streets.

Wonder Woman, Woolf, and some of the words with which she fought.

Wonder Woman, Woolf, and some of the words with which she fought.

 

References:
Virginia Woolf Diary I, P. 291-294
Virginia Woolf Letters II, P. 292
Levenback, Karen. Virginia Woolf and the Great War, P. 27-32.

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London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery will present the first major monographic exhibition of work by Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), Feb. 8 – June 4, 2017.

Here’s a video preview of the exhibition, which includes paintings, textile and book jacket design, and archival material that “will put Bell in her proper place at last,” according to co-curator Sarah Milroy.

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Woolf Works, the first revival of Wayne McGregor’s critically acclaimed ballet triptych to music inspired by the works of Virginia Woolf, is playing at London’s Royal Opera House from Jan. 21 to Feb. 14.

With music by Max Richter and starring Alessandra Ferri and Mara Galeazzi, the ballet focuses on thee Woolf novels, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves. For each, Richter found a unique musical language, with each individual piece connecting with the others for a unifying whole.

The Mrs. Dalloway section opens with the unique 1937 BBC recording of Woolf’s own voice reading her essay “On Craftmanship.” Her radio appearance was part of a BBC series called “Words Fail Me.”

Woolf Works was first presented in London in May 2015 to rave reviews.

What a brilliant, creative human being Virginia Woolf was. It’s been extraordinary once again to have the chance to be engaged in the matters that troubled her, the questions she wrestled with and the visionary quality of the answers she discovered. – Max Richter on how he composed the score for Woolf Works

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Ali Smith gave a lecture—“Getting Virginia Woolf’s Goat”—at London’s National Portrait Gallery inpublic-library 2014. That also was the year her remarkable novel, How to Be Both, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and acclaimed by a reviewer: “One might reasonably argue that Ali Smith is among Virginia Woolf’s most gifted inheritors.”

Seeing Woolfian influences in the work of the contemporary post-modernist is no surprise, then; nor are Woolf references in Smith’s recent story collection, Public Library. In “The ex-wife,” the narrator is writing to her former partner after a break-up, accusing her of infidelity, or at least inattention, because of her involvement with Katherine Mansfield, the ex-wife in question.

That’s about all I can say about this marvelously convoluted story. While explicating her litany of objections, the narrator brings up Mansfield’s “friend and rival Virginia Woolf” who was, at the time, writing a book “about a plane that all the people in London look up and see…,” adding, “I have a sense that Virginia Woolf always thought your ex-wife a bit flighty.”

Then there’s “The definite article,” a story about Regents Park that begins: “I stepped out of the city and into the park. It was as simple as that.” The narrator’s visions invoke flora and fauna, Shakespeare and Dickens, the Brownings and the Shelleys, Elizabeth Bowen and Sylvia Plath, to name just a handful, “and Virginia Woolf herself, “howling or furious or sad, doesn’t matter which, walking and walking by the flower-beds till it cheers her up, leaves her happily making up phrases.”

Ali Smith makes up some pretty good phrases herself.

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Woolf Zine, a new zine focused on Virginia Woolf, produced its first issue this month and is looking for Woolf Zinesubmissions for its second — and its third.

The theme of the first issue is the “Multiple Mrs. Woolf.” It includes a review of Maggie Gee’s Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, as well as a story on Woolf tattoos and a piece by Blogging Woolf contributor Alice Lowe on her stay in Lewes, near Woolf’s Monk’s House.

The theme of the second issue is “Woolf and Others,” with “Woolf and Politics” the focus of the third.

Submissions can include illustrations, articles, arguments, creative work, narratives, poems, questions, queries, collages, short essays, stories, case studies, fan fiction and more.

Contact Woolf Zine at: woolfzine@gmail.com; follow on Twitter at @woolfzine.

 

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A Virginia Woolf Word Portrait arrived this morning. Created by Akron artist John Sokol, an admirer of Woolf and her writing, the portrait is entirely made up of Woolf’s words from A Room of One’s Own. Across her forehead: “But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction”. And so she did. Best. Christmas. Present. Ever. 

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Virginia Woolf’s diary entries from around Christmas bring into sharp relief the feelings that the festive season stirs. Her pieces are coloured by the unpredictable shifts of British winter weather, express the pull between social event and solitude, and are self-reflective in their review of the past.

The following entries span the twenty-year period from 1920-40 and express the layered and complex connotations that our annual traditions hold.

woolf-xmas

“A Virginia Woolf Christmas – Monks House Welcome Home” design by Amanda White

19 December 1920, Hogarth House

In 1920, Woolf’s entry anticipates her New Year’s return to Rodmell and the comfort and routine this will bring. She imagines the “soft, grey walk” she will take in the dappled cool winter light on the greyed heather and chalky mud of the Sussex Downs. Woolf weaves this expectation for the New Year with the immediacy of Christmas at the end of the entry where we join her in delighting in an early Christmas gift from Leonard:

So we reach the end of the year; which is for us cheerful, I think. For one thing we want to get to Rodmell; to see what has happened to the garden. I shall like a soft grey walk. Then the post. Then reading. Then sitting in the chimney corner […] (I use my new blotter, just given me by L., for the first time).

26 December 1929, Monks House

In 1929 Monks House delivers the atmospheric weather that Woolf had imagined at the beginning of the century. She writes, moreover, of its changeability and its effect on her – producing a “violent Christmas” which gives way to a “serene Boxing day”. Here we also see her desire for solitude in the face of incessant society and the hope that, for once, this will truly be possible:

And I am sitting in my new room, with curtains, fire, table; and two great views; sometimes sun over the brooks and storm over the church. A violent Christmas; a brilliant serene Boxing day. I find it almost incredibly soothing – a fortnight alone – almost impossible to let oneself have it. Relentlessly we have crushed visitors: we will be alone this once, we say; and really, it seems possible.

21 December 1933, 52 Tavistock Square

Christmas’s habit of repeating itself is hinted at in 1929 where the impossibility of retreat seems to be routine. In 1933, Woolf is particularly reflexive on the patterns of Christmas, calling the morning of preparing to go down to Rodmell a “relic”, seemingly aged and outdated:

This is the relic of a morning when I should tidy, pack, write letters and so on. We lunch at quarter to one, and then go, this yellow cold morning. No longer the great tradition that it used to be.

24 December 1940, Monks House

Woolf’s seasonal self-reflection is also present in our final entry from 1940, which begins by fantasising about living at Alciston Farm House but ends on a note of quiet contentment with home at Monks House:

“We lunched with Helen [Anrep at Alciston]; and again ‘I could have fancied living there’. An incredible loveliness. The downs breaking their wave, yet one pale quarry; and all the barns and stacks either a broken pink, or a verdurous green; and then the walk by the wall; and the church; deep hollows, where the past stands almost stagnant. And the little spire across the fields… L. is now cutting logs, and after my rush of love and envy for Alciston farm house, we concluded this [Monks House] is the perfect place.”

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