On 28 March, 1941, at the height of Hitler's victories during the Second World War, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in the River Ouse near her home in Sussex. At the time of her death some voices in the press attacked her for showing cowardice in the face of the enemy and for setting a bad example to the general population. Woolf's suicide has been the subject of controversy for the media, for literary scholars, and for her biographers ever since.
Just when it may seem that nothing else could be said about Virginia Woolf and the ambiguous details of her suicide, Afterwords provides an entirely fresh perspective. It makes available to a wide readership for the first time letters sent to Leonard Woolf and Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf's sister) in the aftermath of the event. This unique volume brings together over two hundred letters from T. S. Eliot, H. G. Wells, May Sarton, Vita Sackville-West, Edith Sitwell, E. M. Forster, Radclyffe Hall, and many others, including political figures and religious leaders. In addition, informative annotations reveal the identities of many unexpected condolence-letter writers from among the general public.
In her introduction, editor Sybil Oldfield confronts the contemporary controversy over Woolf's suicide note, arguing that no one who knew Woolf or her work believed that she had deserted Britain. The ensuing collection of letters supports Oldfield's assertion. In elegant prose that rises to the stature of the occasion, these writers share remembrances of Virginia Woolf in life, comment on the quality of her work and her antifascist values, and reveal previously unknown facets of her capacity for friendship.
A richly deserved tribute to the life of an extraordinary woman as well as a testimony to the human capacity for sympathy, Afterwords is essential reading for anyone interested in the life, death, and enduring impact of Virginia Woolf.
Although women and men have different relationships to language and to each other, traditional theories of rhetoric do not foreground such gender differences. Krista Ratcliffe argues that because feminists generally have not conceptualized their language theories from the perspective of rhetoric and composition studies, rhetoric and composition scholars must construct feminist theories of rhetoric by employing a variety of interwoven strategies: recovering lost or marginalized texts; rereading traditional rhetoric texts; extrapolating rhetorical theories from such nonrhetoric texts as letters, diaries, essays, cookbooks, and other sources; and constructing their own theories of rhetoric.
Focusing on the third option, Ratcliffe explores ways in which the rhetorical theories of Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, and Adrienne Rich may be extrapolated from their Anglo-American feminist texts through examination of the interrelationship between what these authors write and how they write. In other words, she extrapolates feminist theories of rhetoric from interwoven claims and textual strategies. By inviting Woolf, Daly, and Rich into the rhetorical traditions and by modeling the extrapolation strategy/methodology on their writings, Ratcliffe shows how feminist texts about women, language, and culture may be reread from the vantage point of rhetoric to construct feminist theories of rhetoric. She also outlines the pedagogical implications of these three feminist theories of rhetoric, thus contributing to ongoing discussions of feminist pedagogies.
Traditional rhetorical theories are gender-blind, ignoring the reality that women and men occupy different cultural spaces and that these spaces are further complicated by race and class, Ratcliffe explains. Arguing that issues such as who can talk, where one can talk, and how one can talk emerge in daily life but are often disregarded in rhetorical theories, Ratcliffe rereads Roland Barthes’ "The Old Rhetoric" to show the limitations of classical rhetorical theories for women and feminists. Discovering spaces for feminist theories of rhetoric in the rhetorical traditions, Ratcliffe invites readers not only to question how women have been located as a part of— and apart from—these traditions but also to explore the implications for rhetorical history, theory, and pedagogy.
Mia Spiro's Anti-Nazi Modernism marks a major step forward in the critical debates over the relationship between modernist art and politics. Spiro analyzes the antifascist, and particularly anti-Nazi, narrative methods used by key British and American fiction writers in the 1930s. Focusing on works by Djuna Barnes, Christopher Isherwood, and Virginia Woolf, Spiro illustrates how these writers use an "anti-Nazi aesthetic" to target and expose Nazism’s murderous discourse of exclusion. The three writers challenge the illusion of harmony and unity promoted by the Nazi spectacle in parades, film, rallies, and propaganda. Spiro illustrates how their writings, seldom read in this way, resonate with the psychological and social theories of the period and warn against Nazism’s suppression of individuality. Her approach also demonstrates how historical and cultural contexts complicate the works, often reinforcing the oppressive discourses they aim to attack. This book explores the textual ambivalences toward the "Others" in society—most prominently the Modern Woman, the homosexual, and the Jew. By doing so, Spiro uncovers important clues to the sexual and racial politics that were widespread in Europe and the United States in the years leading up to World War II.
In this impressively interdisciplinary study, Evelyne Ender revisits master literary works to suggest that literature can serve as an experimental laboratory for the study of human remembrance. She shows how memory not only has a factual basis but is inseparable from fictional and aesthetic elements. Beautifully written in accessible prose, and impressive in its scope, the book takes up works by Proust, Woolf, George Eliot, Nerval, Lou Andreas-Salome, and Sigmund Freud, getting to the heart of essential questions about mental images, empirical knowledge, and the devastations of memory loss in ways that are suggestive and profound. Architexts of Memory joins a growing body of work in the lively field of memory studies, drawing from clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and neurobiology as well as literary studies.
"An important, cogently argued, subtle and rich study of a topic of great interest."
--Mieke Bal, University of Amsterdam
"A work of literary studies positioned at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Evelyne Ender's book brings fashionable cultural concerns to bear on traditional literary texts-her superb pedagogical skills lure and guide the reader through the most difficult psychoanalytical concepts."
--Nelly Furman, Cornell University
Evelyne Ender is Professor of French Studies, University of Washington. She is the author of Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Hysteria.
The Bloomsbury circle has long preoccupied writers, critics, and the general public alike. For many years its focal point was Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex, home to Vanessa and Clive Bell and Duncan Grant. A Cézanne in the Hedge brings together thirty firsthand reminiscences of the Charleston, vividly and amusingly evoking its creativity—and eccentricity. Childhood memories from Quentin Bell, Angelica Garnett, and Nigel Nicholson are interspersed with appraisals of the work of Bloomsbury members such as Roger Fry, Maynard Keynes, and Virginia Woolf and of their contribution to twentieth-century British art and thought. The finale is a childhood spoof written by Virginia Woolf entitled "A Terrible Tragedy in a Duckpond."
Dying for Time
Martin Hägglund Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PQ2631.R63A8195 2012 | Dewey Decimal 843.912
Novels by Proust, Woolf, and Nabokov have been read as expressions of a desire to transcend time. Hägglund gives them another reading entirely: fear of time and death is generated by investment in temporal life. Engaging with Freud and Lacan, he opens a new way of reading the dramas of desire as they are staged in both philosophy and literature.
In this groundbreaking book, Jessica Martell investigates the relationship between industrial food and the emergence of literary modernisms in Britain and Ireland. By the early twentieth century, the industrialization of the British Empire’s food system had rendered many traditional farming operations, and attendant agrarian ways of life, obsolete. Weaving insights from modernist studies, food studies, and ecocriticism, Farm to Form contends that industrial food made nature “modernist,” a term used as literary scholars understand it—stylistically disorienting, unfamiliar, and artificial but also exhilarating, excessive, and above all, new. Martell draws in part upon archives in the United Kingdom but also presents imperial foodways as an extended rehearsal for the current era of industrial food supremacy. She analyzes how pastoral mode, anachronism, fragmentation, and polyvocal narration reflect the power of the literary arts to reckon with—and to resist—the new “modernist ecologies” of the twentieth century.
Deeply informed by Martell’s extensive knowledge of modern British, Irish, American, and World Literatures, this progressive work positions modernism as central to the study of narratives of resistance against social and environmental degradation. Analyzed works include those of Thomas Hardy, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, George Russell, and James Joyce.
In light of climate change, fossil fuel supremacy, nutritional dearth, and other pressing food issues, modernist texts bring to life an era of crisis and anxiety similar to our own. In doing so, Martell summons the past as a way to employ the modernist term of “defamiliarizing” the present so that entrenched perceptions can be challenged. Our current food regime is both new and constantly evolving with the first industrial food trades. Studying earlier cultural responses to them invites us to return to persistent problems with new insights and renewed passion.
In this book, one of modernism's most insightful critics, Jane Marcus, examines the writings of novelists such as Virginia Woolf, Nancy Cunard, Mulk Raj Anand, and Djuna Barnes-artists whose work coincided with the end of empire and the rise of fascism before the Second World War. All these writers delved into the "dark hearts" of imperialism and totalitarianism, thus tackling some of the most complex cultural issues of the day. Marcus investigates previously unrecognized ways in which social and political tensions are embodied by their works.
The centerpiece of the book is Marcus's dialogue with one of her best-known essays, "Britannia Rules The Waves." In that piece, she argues that The Waves makes a strong anti-imperialist statement. Although many already support that argument, she now goes further in order to question the moral value of such a buried critique on Woolf's part. In "A Very Fine Negress" she analyzes the painful subject of Virginia Woolf's racism in A Room of One's Own. Other chapters traverse the connected issues of modernism, race, and imperialism. In two of them, we follow Nancy Cunard through the making of the Negro anthology and her appearance in a popular novel of the freewheeling Jazz Age. Elsewhere, Marcus delivers a complex analysis of A Passage to India, in a reading that interrogates E. M. Forster's displacement of his fear of white Englishwomen struggling for the vote.
Marcus, as always, brings considerable gifts as both researcher and writer to this collection of new and reprinted essays, a combination resulting in a powerful interpretation of many of modernism's most cherished figures.
As a diary writer imagines shadow readers rifling diary pages, she tweaks images of the self, creating multiple readings of herself, fixed and unfixed. When the readers and potential readers are husbands and publishers, the writer maneuvers carefully in a world of men who are quick to judge and to take offense. She fills the pages with reflections, anecdotes, codes, stories, biographies, and fictions. The diary acts as a site for the writer’s tension, rebellion, and remaking of herself.
In this book Martinson examines the diaries of Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Violet Hunt, and Doris Lessing’s fictional character Anna Wulf, and shows that these diaries (and others like them) are not entirely private writings as has been previously assumed. Rather, their authors wrote them knowing they would be read. In these four cases, the audience is the author’s male lover or husband, and Martinson reveals how knowledge of this audience affects the language and content in each diary. Ultimately, she argues, this audience enforces a certain “male censorship” which changes the shape of the revelations, the shape of the writer herself, making it impossible for the female author to be honest in writing about her true self.
Even sophisticated readers often assume that diaries are primarily private. This study interrogates the myth of authenticity and self-revelation in diaries written under the gaze of particular peekers.
Literary Identification from Charlotte Brontë to Tsitsi Dangarembga, by Laura Green, seeks to account for the persistent popularity of the novel of formation, from nineteenth-century English through contemporary Anglophone literature. Through her reading of novels, memoirs, and essays by nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century women writers, Green shows how this genre reproduces itself in the elaboration of bonds between and among readers, characters, and authors that she classifies collectively as “literary identification.” Particular literary identifications may be structured by historical and cultural change or difference, but literary identification continues to undergird the novel of formation in new and evolving contexts.
The two nineteenth-century English authors discussed in this book, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot, established the conventions of the novel of female formation. Their twentieth-century English descendants, Virginia Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, and, Jeanette Winterson, challenge the dominance of heterosexuality in such narratives. In twentieth- and twenty-first-century narratives by Simone de Beauvoir, Jamaica Kincaid, and Tsitsi Dangarembga, the female subject is shaped not only by gender conventions but also by colonial and postcolonial conflict and national identity..
For many contemporary critics and theorists, identification is a middlebrow or feminized reading response or a structure that functions to reproduce the middle-class subjectivity and obscure social conflict. However, Green suggests that the range and variability of the literary identifications of authors, readers, and characters within these novels allows such identifications to function variably as well: in liberatory or life-enhancing ways as well as oppressive or reactionary ones.
During the years leading up to her marriage with Leonard Woolf in 1912, the year in which she finished The Voyage Out and sent it to be published by her cousin at Duckworth’s, the future Virginia Woolf was teaching herself how to be a writer. While her brothers were sent first to private schools, then to Cambridge to be educated, Virginia Stephen and her sister Vanessa were informally educated at home. With this background, how did she know she was a writer? What were her struggles? How did she teach herself? What made Miss Stephen into the author Virginia Woolf?
Miss Stephen’s Apprenticeship explores these questions, delving into Virginia Woolf ’s letters and diaries, seeking to understand how she covered the distance from the wistful “I only wish I could write,” to the almost casual statement, “the novels are finished.” These days, the trajectory of a writer very often starts with studying for an MFA. In Woolf ’s case, however, it’s instructive to ask: How did a great writer, who had no formal education, invent for herself the framework she needed for a writing life? How did she know what she had to learn? How did she make her own way?
Novelist Rosalind Brackenbury explores these questions and others, and in the process reveals what Virginia Woolf can give to young writers today.
Michelle Zerba’s Modern Odysseys explores three major writers in global modernism from the Mediterranean, Anglo-European Britain, and the Caribbean whose groundbreaking literary works have never been studied together before. Using language as an instrument of revolution and social change, C. P. Cavafy, Virginia Woolf, and Aimé Césaire gave expression to the forms of human experience we now associate with modernity: homoeroticism, transsexuality, and racial consciousness. More specifically, Zerba argues that Odyssean tropes of diffusion, isolation, passage, and return give form to works by these writers but in ways that invite us to reconsider and revise the basic premises of reception studies and intellectual history.
Combining close readings of literary texts with the study of interviews, essays, diaries, and letters, Zerba advances a revisionary account of how to approach relationships between antiquity and modernity. Instead of frontal encounters with the Odyssey, Cavafy, Woolf, and Césaire indirectly—but no less significantly—engage with Homer’s epic poem. In demonstrating how such encounters operate, Modern Odysseys explores issues of race and sexuality that connect antiquity with the modern period.
The Real, The True, and The Told: Postmodern Historical Narrative and the Ethics of Representation, by Eric L. Berlatsky, intervenes in contemporary debates over the problems of historical reference in a postmodern age. It does so through an examination of postmodern literary practices and their engagement with the theorization of history. The book looks at the major figures of constructivist historiography and at postmodern fiction (and memoir) that explicitly presents and/or theorizes “history.” It does so in order to suggest that reading such fiction can intervene substantially in debates over historical reference and the parallel discussion of redefining contemporary ethics.
Much theorization in the wake of Hayden White suggests that history is little better than fiction in its professed goal of representing the “truth” of the past, particularly because of its reliance on the narrative form.While postmodern fiction is often read as reflecting and/or repeating such theories, this book argues that, in fact, such fiction proposes alternative models of accurate historical reference, based on models of nonnarrativity. Through a combination of high theory andnarrative theory, the book illustrates how the texts examined insist upon the possibility of accessing the real by rejecting narrative as their primary mode of articulation. Among the authors examined closely in The Real, The True, and The Told are Virginia Woolf, Graham Swift, Salman Rushdie, Art Spiegelman, and Milan Kundera.
In this book, Robin Hackett examines portrayals of race, class, and sexuality in modernist texts by white women to argue for the existence of a literary device that she calls “Sapphic primitivism.” The works vary widely in their form and content and include Olive Schreiner’s proto-modernist exploration of New Womanhood, The Story of an African Farm; Virginia Woolf’s high modernist “play-poem,” The Waves; Sylvia Townsend Warner’s historical novel, Summer Will Show; and Willa Cather’s Southern pastoral, Sapphira and the Slave Girl. In each, blackness and working-class culture are figured to represent sexual autonomy, including lesbianism, for white women. Sapphic primitivism exposes the ways several classes of identification were intertwined with the development of homosexual identities at the turn of the century. Sapphic primitivism is not, however, a means of disguising lesbian content. Rather, it is an aesthetic displacement device that simultaneously exposes lesbianism and exploits modern, primitivist modes of self-representation. Hackett’s revelations of the mutual interests of those who study early twentieth-century constructions of race and sexuality and twenty-first-century feminists doing anti-racist and queer work are a major contribution to literary studies and identity theory.
The modern novel, so the story goes, thinks poorly of mere description—what Virginia Woolf called “that ugly, that clumsy, that incongruous tool.” As a result, critics have largely neglected description as a feature of novelistic innovation during the twentieth century. Dora Zhang argues that descriptive practices were in fact a crucial site of attention and experimentation for a number of early modernist writers, centrally Woolf, Henry James, and Marcel Proust.
Description is the novelistic technique charged with establishing a common world, but in the early twentieth century, there was little agreement about how a common world could be known and represented. Zhang argues that the protagonists in her study responded by shifting description away from visualizing objects to revealing relations—social, formal, and experiential—between disparate phenomena. In addition to shedding new light on some of the best-known works of modernism, Zhang opens up new ways of thinking about description more broadly. She moves us beyond the classic binary of narrate-or-describe and reinvigorates our thinking about the novel. Strange Likeness will enliven conversations around narrative theory, affect theory, philosophy and literature, and reading practices in the academy.
In a major rethinking of the functions, methods, and aims of narrative poetics, David Herman exposes important links between modernist and postmodernist literary experimentation and contemporary language theory. Ultimately a search for new tools for narrative theory, his work clarifies complex connections between science and art, theory and culture, and philosophical analysis and narrative discourse. Following an extensive historical overview of theories about universal grammar, Herman examines Joyce’s Ulysses, Kafka’s The Trial, and Woolf’s Between the Acts as case studies of modernist literary narratives that encode grammatical principles which were (re)fashioned in logic, linguistics, and philosophy during the same period. Herman then uses the interpretation of universal grammar developed via these modernist texts to explore later twentieth-century cultural phenomena. The problem of citation in the discourses of postmodernism, for example, is discussed with reference to syntactic theory. An analysis of Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover raises the question of cinematic meaning and draws on semantic theory. In each case, Herman shows how postmodern narratives encode ideas at work in current theories about the nature and function of language. Outlining new directions for the study of language in literature, Universal Grammar and Narrative Form provides a wealth of information about key literary, linguistic, and philosophical trends in the twentieth century.
Ira Nadel Reaktion Books, 2016 Library of Congress PR6045.O72Z825 2016
Virginia Woolf was one of the most significant literary figures of the twentieth century—a major literary stylist and a lyrical novelist whose stream-of-consciousness approach in iconic books such as Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando would inspire generations of writers to follow. She was also one of the first to address the injustices of gender disparity and the ravages of World War I at home. Uncovering new details about Woolf’s life and the places she inhabited, this engaging biography offers fresh insights into her works and legacy, focusing on the ways place and imagination intertwine in her writing.
Drawing on Woolf’s letters, journals, diaries, autobiographical essays, and fiction, Ira Nadel paints a portrait of the writer in situ, whether in the enclosed surroundings of Hyde Park Gate or the open and free-spirited environs of Gordon Square’s Bloomsbury. He shows how Woolf’s experimental style was informed by her own reading life and how her deeply sensitive understanding of history, narrative, art, and friendship were rendered in her prose. He explores the famous Bloomsbury group of intellectuals in which she was immersed as well as her relationships with fascinating figures such as Vita Sackville-West and Lady Ottoline Morrel. Nadel looks at Woolf’s attitudes toward sex and marriage, analyzes her uncertain social and political views, and, finally, offers a sensitive examination of her mental instabilities and the nervous breakdowns that would plague her for most of her life, up until her suicide in 1941.
A moving account of an exceptional writer who ushered in a new era of literature, this biography perfectly captures the intricate relationship between art and life.
"A stunning, brilliant, absolutely compelling reading of Woolf through the lens of Kleinian and Freudian psychoanalytic debates about the primacy of maternality and paternality in the construction of consciousness, gender, politics, and the past, and of psychoanalysis through the lens of Woolf's novels and essays. In addition to transforming our understanding of Woolf, this book radically expands our understanding of the historicity and contingent construction of psychoanalytic theory and our vision of the potential of psychoanalytic feminism."—Nancy J. Chodorow, University of California at Berkeley
"Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis brings Woolf's extraordinary craftsmanship back into view; the book combines powerful claims about sexual politics and intellectual history with the sort of meticulous, imaginative close reading that leaves us, simply, seeing much more in Woolf's words than we did before. It is the most exciting book on Woolf to come along in some time."—Lisa Ruddick, Modern Philology
Virginia Woolf Icon
Brenda R. Silver University of Chicago Press, 1999 Library of Congress PR6045.O72Z87633 1999 | Dewey Decimal 823.912
This is a book about "Virginia Woolf": the face that sells more postcards than any other at Britain's National Portrait Gallery, the name that Edward Albee's play linked with fear, the cultural icon so rich in meanings that it has been used to market everything from the New York Review of Books to Bass Ale. Brenda Silver analyzes Virginia Woolf's surprising visibility in both high and popular culture, showing how her image and authority have been claimed or challenged in debates about art, politics, anger, sexuality, gender, class, the canon, feminism, race, and fashion.
From Virginia Woolf's 1937 appearance on the cover of Time magazine to her current roles in theater, film, and television, Silver traces the often contradictory representations and the responses they provoke, highlighting the recurring motifs that associate Virginia Woolf with fear. By looking more closely at who is afraid and the contexts in which she is perceived to be frightening, Silver illustrates how Virginia Woolf has become the site of conflicts about cultural boundaries and legitimacy that continue to rage today.
In a work that re-investigates archival materials and deploys an innovative theoretical framework, Jean Mills explores the intellectual and political relationship between Virginia Woolf and the Cambridge classicist Jane Ellen Harrison. Virginia Woolf, Jane Ellen Harrison, and the Spirit of Modernist Classicism discovers an intimate connection crucial to Woolf’s professional identity and intellectual and artistic development in Harrison’s controversial, feminist interpretations of Greek mythology. Mills argues that cross-reading Jane Harrison and Virginia Woolf exposes a distinctive relationship between two women intellectuals, one that does not rehearse the linearity of influence but instead demonstrates the intricacy of intertextuality—an active and transformative use of one body of writing by another writer—that makes of Virginia Woolf’s modernism a specifically feminist amplification. This cross-reading reveals a dimension of modernism that has been overlooked or minimized: Mills demonstrates that the questions preoccupying Harrison also resonated with Woolf, who adapted Harrison’s ideas to her own intellectual, political, and literary pursuits.
To an extent, Virginia Woolf, Jane Ellen Harrison, and the Spirit of Modernist Classicism participates in an act of classical recovery. It is an effort to revive and reclaim Harrison’s work and to illustrate the degree to which her cultural, political, and scholastic example informed one of the major modernist voices of the twentieth century.