Tag Archive: virginia woolf


220px-george_charles_beresford_-_virginia_woolf_in_1902_-_restorationOn this day in 1941 Virginia Woolf took her own life aged 59 by  weighing down her jacket with stones and drowning in the River Ouse near her home in Sussex, England.

By way of tribute, below is a You Tube link to Max Richter’s haunting music composed for Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works which begins with a reading of Woolf’s suicide note to her husband, signed ‘V’ which is beautifully read by Gillian Anderson. Continue reading

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Why Woolf Works works

woolfworksIt might seem an odd notion to base a dance performance on three novels by Virginia Woolf, but Wayne McGregor is a choreographer who makes his own rules. He proves that great prose can inspire and captivate in the same way that the rhythmic flow of lyrical poetry can.

Woolf Works was premiered to huge acclaim in 2015 and is divided into three sections: ‘I Now, I Then’ is based on the themes in Mrs Dalloway; ‘Becomings’ takes its cues from the surreal wit & vitality of Orlando and ‘Tuesday’ is inspired by The Waves, Woolf’s most experimental novel.

This final section is also named after the heading to the suicide note Woolf left for her husband. This letter, which begins “I feel certain that I’m going mad again”, is beautifully read by Gillian Anderson as a preface to the profoundly moving conclusion.

The revival of these pieces was a hot ticket at The Royal Opera House but has now reached a wider audience thanks to a live worldwide broadcast in over 1,500 cinemas and more than 35 countries on February 8th 2017. Continue reading

VIRGINIA WOOLF biography by Hermione Lee (Vintage Books, 1996)

leeVirginia Woolf’s life story is one that is continually being re-evaluated. After all, it was fully  two decades after her suicide in 1941 before she began to be more widely acknowledged as a literary great and a feminist icon.

Even so, there are still far too many (mostly male) detractors who will routinely belittle the achievements of Woolf. Hermione Lee recalls that as a student she was taught to regard her as a “minor modernist”, not fit to be ranked alongside Joyce, T.S. Eliot or D.H. Lawrence.

She also recounts a revealing (and humorous) story of a St Ives bookseller who decided to take advantage of Woolf’s association with one of her former homes but only had a vague idea of who she was. He put up a sign which read : ‘Talland House. Home of Virginia Woolf, wife of the famous novelist”. Continue reading

THE DARK SIDE OF VIRGINIA WOOLF

CARLYLE’S HOUSE & OTHER SKETCHES by Virginia Woolf (Hesperus Press Ltd , 2003)

carlyes_houseIt is fair to say that 1909 was not a good year for Adeline Virginia Stephen. She was struggling to complete her first novel and was increasing fearful of turning into a frustrated spinster. Later, following her marriage to Leonard Woolf, she would look back and write: “I was unhappy that summer and bitter in all my judgements”.

It was just the summer months where she hit a low ebb. Her notebook of that year, from which the seven short ‘sketches’ come, consisted of 214 pages but over 150 of these were left blank. Continue reading

THE WAVES by Virginia Woolf (First published by The Hogarth Press, 1931)

thewavesIn her 1928 essay Women & Fiction, Virginia Woolf wrote that she hoped a time would come when novels would “cease to become a dumping ground for personal emotions” and in her diaries at around the same time she expressed the desire to be rid of “the appalling narrative business of the realists : getting us from lunch to dinner”.

These quotes show how Woolf had at this point become totally bored by the relatively conventional structure of popular fiction. She believed that the linear plotlines of contemporary novels were irreversibly flawed in that they bore little or no relation to how we actually conduct our daily lives.

Embracing the Modernist cause, she developed more of an interest in the darker psychology traits of her characters which led to her becoming less and less concerned with describing their actions, interactions and appearance.

This was evident in her masterpieces Mrs Dalloway (1925) and To The Lighthouse (1927) but The Waves represents her most fully realised attempt to deconstruct the novel. It has no recognisable story and the voices of six characters in search of a plot morph into each other in such a way that it’s hard to tell them apart. Continue reading

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