Thursday, November 16, 2006

Virginia Woolf

In A Room of One's Own Woolf also invents a hypothetical "Shakespeare's sister," who shares her brother's literary genius but dies in penniless obscurity because a woman in Elizabethan England would never have enjoyed the opportunity to exercise her talents. One can imagine another hypothetical figure, "Woolf's maid," a poor woman in Georgian England who has to work for a living from the age of 13, cleaning up after the famous writer. After all, Woolf's famous formulation that a woman writer must have £500 a year and the solitude of her own room in which to write presumes implicitly that there will be servants to make the writer's meals and clean her house. --Elaine Blair, The Horror of Dirt: Virginia Woolf and Her Servants, The Nation, October 29, 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The peculiar status of Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) as muse to every woman seeking a room of her own took off after fast sales of The Years landed her on Time magazine's cover in 1937. Next, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? hurtled her in the 1960s into catchphrase immortality. Feminist thinkers and literary critics then raised her up as a heroine, spurring a counterreaction that just added to Woolf's gleam.

By the end of the 20th century, the trajectory of ascent from icon of 1930s modernist elitism to literary everywoman pointed straight up. --Carlin Romano, Virginia, Jean, and Flannery: A Good Role Model Is Easy to Find, The Chronicle Review, March 13, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

She and Leonard were infinitely more liberal than their forebears, and yet they were parsimonious. They embraced the Labor Party and politics that promised social change, and yet did not seem to realize that their way of living perpetuated established class divisions. --Claire Messud, A Maid of One’s Own, The New York Times, October 17, 2008, review of Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury, by Alison Light

Woolf and the other Bloomsbury group members regarded themselves as socialist and held what they considered to be “advanced” views on the mingling of different social groups—their servants were not expected to wear uniforms, for example, or address them as “sir” and “madam”. Yet they seem to have been quite clueless about what life was like below stairs. --The Economist, Pantry power, September 25, 2008, review of Mrs Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury, by Alison Light

Why we have them I can’t think by Rosemary Hill, review of The Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service by Alison Light, London Review of Books, August 16, 2007

The women behind Mrs Woolf by Lynsey Hanley, review of Mrs Woolf and the Servants: the Hidden Heart of Domestic Service by Alison Light, Telegraph, July 28, 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

His love was unconditional, review by Jim Higgins of Leonard Woolf: A Biography by Victoria Glendinning, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 10, 2006

The Constant Husband, review by Adam Kirsch of Leonard Woolf by Victoria Glendinning, The New York Sun, November 22, 2006
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Rage of Virginia Woolf, by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Summer 2002

Complexity & contradiction: Virginia Woolf & George Eliot, review by Brooke Allen of Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee & George Eliot: A Life by Rosemary Ashton, The New Criterion, November 1997

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