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Posts Tagged ‘Woolf sightings’

The White Book by Han Kang is a sequence of loosely linked personal meditations on life and death and the natural world through the lens of the color white.

In a piece called “Wave,” I was struck by passages such as these:

“In the distance, the surface of the water bulges upward. The winter sea mounts its approach, surging closer in. The wave reaches its greatest possible height and shatters in a spray of white. The shattered water slides back over the sandy shore.”

“Each wave becomes dazzlingly white at the moment of its shattering. Farther out, the tranquil body of water flashes like the scales of innumerable fish. The glittering of multitudes is there. The shifting, stirring, tossing of multitudes. Nothing is eternal.”

I couldn’t help but reflect on The Waves, where in the opening passage, at daybreak:

“As they neared the shore each bar rose, heaped itself, broke and swept a thin veil of white water across the sand. The wave paused, and then drew out again, sighing like a sleeper whose breath comes and goes unconsciously.”

 

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I often begin an essay without any thought of Virginia Woolf. I have an idea I want to explore—from personal experience, perhaps, a time or episode or person in my life, or something that’s caught my attention. I do research, both online and in the library, before I start writing, and map out my thoughts, how I want to proceed, what I want to say.

And then, out of the blue, she pops up. Threads I’m pursuing—about punctuation, baseball, and food, to name a few—evoke some connection to Woolf. I recall a passage, an incident, something from her life or work that relates to what I’m writing. Now it’s practically second nature to stop and think, what has Woolf said about this?

Two essays published last year—one about science, the other about maps and flanerie—wouldn’t have been complete without recourse to Woolf’s wit and wisdom:

More of my essays, including a trilogy about my Woolf pilgrimage, are on my blog.

 

 

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I’d heard the rumor — that a Virginia Woolf “collage” could be spotted in the ladies room of London’s Tavistock Hotel. But I did not expect what I actually found.

Tavistock Hotel in Bloomsbury, London

I went in search of the hotel’s unusual homage to Woolf after the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf in June at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

The clerk at the Tavistock’s front desk directed me to the lobby level ladies room, where I expected to see a lone framed Woolf collage on the wall near the door or the sinks.

Loo decor

I found something entirely different. The wall behind each toilet in each ladies room stall was decorated with a long framed graphic featuring Woolf and her works. Each was cut to feature a different element of her work.

Luckily, the ladies room was unoccupied when I entered, so I was able to take a photograph of each stall. However, some of my photos are a bit tipsy, due to the fact that I had to prop each stall door open with my foot while hurriedly snapping individual pictures.

I made sure to include the commode and toilet tissue roll in the photo when I could manage it, as evidence that this Woolf sighting actually took place in a loo. 

 

The hotel’s Woolf & Whistle serves light meals and beverages.

Traditional afternoon tea is also offered at the Tavistock Hotel’s Woolf & Whistle.

 

About the Tavistock

Blue plaque honoring Virginia and Leonard Woolf installed to the left of the front entrance of the Tavistock Hotel.

The hotel is famous because it is built on the site of Virginia and Leonard’s flat at 52 Tavistock Square, in which they lived from 1924-1939.

A blue plaque commemorating that fact was unveiled on the exterior of the building in April.

 

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Woolf sightings are frequent, both online and in person, testifying to the fact that Virginia Woolf has long been an icon.

Here’s one put together by Lois Gilmore, professor of language and literature at Bucks County Community College in Newton, Pa.

She set up the display of Woolf items in the campus library in conjunction with an honors composition class focused on Woolf that she is teaching this fall.

It includes books by and about Woolf, a doll, note cards, jewelry, the T-shirt from the 2009 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf and the City, and the program from the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf, Europe and Peace.

Fittingly enough, Lois included Virginia Woolf Icon (1999) by Brenda R. Silver among the books she selected.

Do you have a Woolf sighting or display to share? If so, please add a link in the comments section below.

The Virginia Woolf display at the Bucks County Community College library.

A Virginia Woolf-shaped note card, along with the famous Woolf in Raybans T-shirt, are included in the display.

A copy of Kew Gardens with cover design by Vanessa Bell, along with a quote from A Room of One’s Own and a necklace featuring a Bell portrait of Woolf knitting are part of the display.

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Every day Blogging Woolf monitors Google and Twitter for references to Virginia Woolf on the Web. Here are some recent sightings shared via the blog’s Facebook page:

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Virginia Woolf readers and scholars from all over the world attended the Woolf conference in Reading, England, earlier this month — and two of them were from Italy, representing the new Italian Virginia Woolf Society.

I was happy to meet Elisa Bolchi, president of the new society, along with member Sara Sullam. And when I mentioned at the Saturday evening banquet that I would love to have one of the society’s lavender buttons, Elisa readily removed hers from her sweater and gave it to me. It is now one of my prized mementoes from the conference, particularly since I am of Italian heritage and will always be in love with Italia.

Here’s an update about the group provided by President Elisa Bolchi.

Elisa Bolchi and Sara Sullam, two members of the new Italian Virginia Woolf Society who attended this month’s Woolf conference in Reading, England. Elisa is the society’s president.

The Italian Virginia Woolf Society now has 84 members. We had our ‘vernissage’ event 13 June (Dalloway’s day!), in the garden of the International House of Women in Rome. The title was ‘Virginia Woolf: the sense of community’, and it was meant to introduce the aims of the Society. The speakers were the founding members: Nadia Fusini, Liliana Rampello, Iolanda Plescia and I.

We now have several events scheduled:

  • 5 October: we will be in Turin to present the Society. We are also planning four events in Turin related to this first presentation: three encounters dedicated to Woolf’s novels and one regarding her essays. We don’t have the dates set yet. We have been invited by the Readers’ Club of Turin.
  • 21 October: We’ll be in Bologna to speak of the “Current relevance of Woolf” in the beautiful conference room of the Salaborsa, the main public library in Bologna.
  • I’ll be also giving a PhD. lecture on the above topic in Perugia, at the end of October or the beginning of November (I don’t have the dates yet).
  • 24-26 November: 2nd edition of the Literary Festival “Il Faro in una stanza”, dedicated to Woolf.
  • For next Spring (probably March) we are planning our first conference, and the theme will be “Woolf and Community”.

Taking a group photo of Italian — and half-Italian — attendees at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf banquet was a must. It includes Sara Sullam, Patrizia Muscogiuri, Paula Maggio, and Elisa Bolchi.

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