Hello all! My name is Drew Blanchette. I'm 21 years old and a class member of the Virginia Woolf Seminar. First and foremost, I must warn potential viewers that I have no knowledge of Virginia Woolf's work. I am hoping that as the class progresses and I have a chance to read her apparently fabulous works (or so I have been told) I will develop some knowledge and appreciation. As my blogs increase perhaps the reader will pick up on my progression! Hopefully whoever looks over my site will enjoy my posts and not be too bored by my analyzing attempts. Thanks ahead of time for viewing my site!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Critical Article

Jane Marcus’s article, ““In the Circle of the Lens”: Woolf’s “Telescope” Story, Scene-making and Memory, explores Virginia Woolf’s inspiration behind The Searchlight. Marcus’s article also examines other critical articles that have discussed the short story. Marcus reveals in the beginning that Woolf wrote in one of her diary entries that she had finally written a story that had been forming in her mind for the past ten years. Apparently, there were fourteen drafts written before the final draft! Marcus says that the manuscript was loosely based on the Isle of Wight where her great aunt and Alfred Tennyson lived in the mid nineteenth century. There are many discussions about when the final draft was published, and Marcus believes that Jane de Gay stopped the argument with her revelation that the last publication was in 1941. Marcus is interested in the differences of the two stories The Freshwater and The Searchlight. There are differences to the two texts that Marcus believes help to reveal how Woolf would set up scenes. Marcus is interested in the choices that Woolf made about what to keep and discard. She says her choices form “frames” that reveal the inner Woolf. Marcus thinks that by closely examining both texts much can be learned about Woolf’s narration style and choices. Woolf’s writing forms a series of scenes that generate from her own personal life and experiences. Her writing resembles a camera in the way that she can depict such vivid snapshots of life. Marcus shows how Woolf’s writing is closely linked with photography.

Marcus, Jane. "“In the Circle of the Lens”: Woolf’s “Telescope” Story, Scene-making and Memory." Journal of the Short Story in English 50 (2008): 1-13. Print.

Lapin and Lappinova

A rabbit king and a rabbit queen…it sounds like something Beatrice Potter would write about in one of her children’s tales. But no, it’s just Virginia Woolf, writing about gender differences and the constraints of marriage. Rosalind and Ernest are newlyweds, and Rosalind is still uncomfortable in her marriage. She isn’t used to Ernest and finds his name inappropriate for him. She decides that he resembles a rabbit and so she makes him a king rabbit and she is his queen rabbit. It would be one thing if it was just a silly comment that led to nothing, but no, Rosalind holds onto the fantasy dearly. She constantly refers to situations that revolve around the two rabbits, and she even has nightmares about it. Of course, her fantasy eventually runs out because Ernest tells her to stop acting like a child.
It is an interesting story because although nothing drastic happens, it is very depressing. Why? I suppose her fantasy being taken away by her husband is a rather sad notion. Rosalind is attempting to be herself around her husband, her real self, and he takes that away from her. He wants to act a certain way, and she does. It’s almost like she has a realization that she is unable to be her real self anymore. It’s like when the fantasy is taken away so is her innocence.
In class we talked about gender differences and how Woolf didn’t think that it was possible for men and women to truly understand one another. They might be able to get along, but their connection will never be on the same level because of the way that we view things. I don’t know whether she thought this was socially brought about or something of a genetic or scientific matter that could never be remedied. When Rosalind was able to be herself, to think and have an imagination, the marriage was going well. But when Ernest takes her imagination away from her the marriage is already on the road to unhappiness.
I can see how the idea that men and women are on two different wave lengths that will never coexist if you lived in Woolf’s time period. Older generations of men didn’t respect women and they didn’t allow them to think, have opinions, or imaginations. But I don’t think that this is entirely true of men in general today. Of course to claim that all men have evolved to the times and view women with respect would be an exaggeration and very wrong. Even so, I do believe that men and women are more in sync then ever. It has been scientifically proven that men and women perceive the world differently, but that doesn’t mean we are so different that we can never be connected. I suppose it just seems like such a sad idea that every heterosexual couple is only together because of society’s influence, even though we are ultimately unhappy or unfulfilled. Perhaps that is why I found Lapin and Lappinova to be so depressing, because it presents questions that could be asked of our present day world.

The Legacy

It was interesting to read The Legacy after I had read a critical article on it, (by Ann Lavine I believe, but don’t hold me to it). Usually, I’m the type of person that doesn’t like reading a critical analysis before (like reading the introductions to all of the novels we read) I read the work. I want to see if I pick up on things myself, and go into the reader unbiased. Sometimes if you read something with a pre-set idea you go into it looking for it. I suppose that’s kind of how my reading of The Legacy went for me. It’s interesting to look at it from the vantage point of who was wrong? Gilbert or Angela? Lavine had her class divide into two groups, one on Gilbert’s side and the other on Angela’s side. The big debate is over whether it was Gilbert’s fault that Angela resorted to adultery, or if Angela was still wrong because she committed the act regardless of reasons behind it. There is still another choice to be made though: what if both people are wrong? Lavine said that Woolf always wanted to portray multiple perspectives and there is never one answer to her writing. Woolf loved to portray different versions of reality because that is how it is for everyone: we are all living in our made up reality. The way that we interpret or view the world is completely different and our versions differ greatly. Woolf also liked to show the difference between women and men.
It can’t be denied that The Legacy is targeted towards male chauvinism. Gilbert reads Angela’s diary and is only interested in the passages that talk about him. Sadly, it seems like his attraction or feelings for Angela revolved around her looks and nothing of her mind. In fact, he remarks a few times that she wasn’t very intelligent and not thoughtful. Obviously, it’s the reverse because Angela produced multiple volumes of diaries. If she wasn’t thinking then why was she writing so much? Furthermore, a lot of her writing was about important issues in life, not just about men or frivolous vanities. Gilbert seems like the less intelligent of the two because all he can think about is himself. The only other time that he is interested in her entries is when they keep referring to B.M.
Going back to the question of who was right and who was wrong, I believe that it’s hard to make a decision. Of course, from Woolf’s portrayal of Gilbert the reader might immediately want to Angela’s side. Gilbert seems selfish and doesn’t respect anything about Angela except her beauty. He views her as a careless child and his view is obviously wrong. But it is important to also wonder if it isn’t entirely Gilbert’s fault. Yes, his personality has many faults, but is he not the product of his time? If men of his time period were taught to view women in this light then how could they rise above it and think progressively?

Between the Acts

Between the Acts in my opinion has one of the most interesting settings. I love the contrast between the rural English village while a war is going on, literally, right over their heads! The reader gets the small town or bubble of reality that people are living, while also comparing it to the grand world events that are coming slowly closer to them. This small backdrop of life compared to the great whole is shown through the metaphor of the play going on throughout the novel.
One would think that with a great war going on, people would not do such things as hold plays. When the world is going to ruin, why would people hold onto such trivial acts? I think Virginia wanted to capture something about the human spirit. Even in times of war and potential destruction, people are more concerned with themselves. There is a great war going on, with an enemy that stands for complete evil. The Nazis and their power struggle was very much a perfect example of good vs. evil. If they won, the world would have been a very scary place indeed. And yet, here we are presented with people worrying about plays and failing marriages. Isa’s world view seems very small indeed and her perspective is consumed with her own life.
While one might say that to hold onto past practices, or refusal to change one’s way of life is an act of bravery and resilience. However, I wonder if Virginia was trying to point out the vanities and frivolities that follow every person in life. Wouldn’t this be a time of reflection? You would think that a person would be deeper and their thoughts would be centered on the welfare of the future world, but instead they are consumed by lust and even vanity. Isa is unhappy in her marriage and attracted to another man. While the world fights the big battle, she is obsessed with her own situation.
Again the reader is passages about the reflected image. Any mirror or reflective object is of much importance to Woolf. The play itself is a sort of reflection of the audience. As the audience watches, we are essentially looking at our own selves.
Does Woolf wonder if people can truly see themselves? When we look into the mirror or at any object that reveals ourselves what are we really perceiving? As much as we fail to realize that in a play or movie we are looking at the same human mind, we refuse that it could be like ourselves. The mirror is reality and then not. In a literal sense it is reflecting the truth. However, most people do not see the reflected image in it’s true form. Our personal perspectives mold and alter the reality of the reflected image. We deny and build ourselves up with false images that are not representations of the truth. A play is not reality, and yet it mimics reality. We watch the play, laugh and cry, and not realize that we are looking at our own reflections.
In class, we talked about the Egyptian symbology in Between the Acts. Isa's name could come from the Egyptian God Isis, which is one of the main Gods and a female. I believe that she is related to the sun? Furthermore, there are multiple mentions of mud. Ancient Egyptian religion believed that all life forms had spawned from the mud of the nile. I think this has to do when it is the dry season (?) and the river dries up and there is a lot of mud...or the wet season, and the river floods a little bit and spreads mud all over the country side? I don't know, so I'm only guessing. I suppose the wet season would make more sense. In an attempt to figure out why this would be relevant I might have to take a guess of imperialism? I know that Woolf is against imperialism and her previous work of Three Guineas had a lot to do with imperialism. The three guineas had something to do with slavery at first...I think. I realize that she is vehemently against imperialism. Perhaps it's just showing the integration of different cultures?

Three Guineas

Three Guineas would have to be my least favorite of the Virginia Woolf works that we read for class. There is no denying Woolf’s talent. It’s obvious that she is a brilliant writer, but I can also see why this was not a fascinating read for anyone in our class. Like A Room of One’s Own, it’s a long essay with a narrator. A narrative essay, I suppose. It is in the form of epistolary, or written in letters. Woolf attempts to answer three questions, or argue three points.
Her first question is how is it possible to prevent war? Woolf is a socialist and despises warfare. She is horrified by the Spanish war and the grotesque images that are being published in the newspapers. She is constantly reinforcing that women and children, civilians, are being murdered pointlessly in the war. She keeps talking about the dying children and battered houses. She uses constant repetition. I understood what she was trying to do. She was so desperate, or anxious to get her point across to the reader, and maybe the average reader, that she had to keep reiterating her point. I felt like she was banging on my head saying, “Remember this, listen to this, take this in, be horrified and then do something.”
Unfortunately, I don’t know what can be done? In the second half of her novel, she addresses women’s issues. She is very angry about the funding for women’s education and institutions. She claims that while men are given the chance to a wonderful education, with hundreds of thousands of pounds supporting the institution, the women’s universities lack appropriate funding. While the male’s colleges are ornate and large, the women’s universities are mundane and simple.
I still don’t really understand the purpose of the title, Three Guineas. I understand that it is an amount of money, 21 shillings. I also realize that it has something to do with upper class society. This is where I get confused though. Virginia Woolf is not poor. She makes a decent amount of money, lives off of an allowance, and has servants. She isn’t living in a hut or starving. Essentially, she is referring to herself. I know that she wasn’t filthy rich, but she wasn’t hurting either. It just seems ironic to be shunning the upper class public when someone could be pointing the finger at her.
I like that Woolf tries to tell people that while sending money will help solve some of the issues regarding war and women’s rights, it will not solve anything. If people just sit around and claim that they want to do something, they haven’t really done anything in the end.
Like I said in the beginning, I respect Three Guineas because it is well written. In A Room of One’s Own though she said that the problems facing women writers is that they can’t leave behind their bitterness. According to her, women show too much anger in their work. Again, this is another irony because Woolf sounds very angry in this work. She does try to downplay the anger with some humor, but it still comes out as being sarcastic and pissed off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Critical Article

Radclyffe Hall went to trial in 1928 for her novel, The Well of Loneliness, which was focused around lesbianism. Jane Marcus believes and explains in her article, “Sapphistry: Narration as Lesbian Seduction in A Room of One’s Own, that Virginia Woolf loosely based her character of Judith Shakespeare in her work, A Room of One’s Own, on Radclyffe Hall herself. She further believes that the unnamed narrator is meant to be the voice of the character Mary in The Well of Loneliness. Marcus claims that Woolf’s fictive essay attempts to seduce the woman reader and also makes fun of the masculine world. Woolf’s words are sexually and politically exciting for women because it encourages them to accept sexual and intellectual progression. The second point that Marcus wishes to examine is Woolf’s emphasis on women seeking a female intellectual mentor. Marcus claims that Woolf was upset with the male homosexuality misogyny that was occurring in academic settings. Woolf delivered parts of A Room of One’s Own in a lecture to a room full of college women. Marcus says that when Woolf delivered the lecture she was accompanied by Vita Sackville-West and the rumor of the novel Orlando representing a lesbian love letter had already circulated. Furthermore, there are allusions in Woolf’s speech that refer to the trial of The Well of Loneliness. Marcus reveals that the setting of the delivered speech was seductive and extremely feminine. She ascertains that the beauty of Sackville-West and Woolf, as well as the feminine seductiveness of the setting was all meant to entice the women. The enticement was for the purpose of bringing women together in a bond that were united against the patriarchal society.

Marcus, Jane. "Sapphistry:Narration as Lesbian Seduction in A Room of One's Own." Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987. 163-87. Print.

Criticle Article

Jane Lilienfeld’s article, “Where the Spear Plants Grew: the Ramsays’ Marriage in To The Lighthouse”, examines how Virginia Woolf displayed the Ramsays’ marriage in negative and positive lights while still hoping to urge others for new types of human love. Lilienfeld shows how the Ramsays are stuck in their middle class Victorian roles and values in the essay. Mr. Ramsay represents the perfect masculine figure, while Mrs. Ramsay represents the feminine figure. Their marriage is bound by the set patriarchy that Lilienfeld says hasn’t changed much since the 1850’s. The Ramsays’ are based on Woolf’s own parents and Lilienfeld says that the gender roles they play in the novel mirror the real Stephen’s. Apparently, Leslie Stephen, or Mr. Ramsay, believed that it was natural law that women should not have any legal rights and that she should not take a job. Even though his wife, Julia Stephen, or Mrs. Ramsay, was held tight by Mr. Stephen’s beliefs, according to Lilienfeld, her quiet resistances were not lost on Woolf as she grew up. Lilienfeld also says that the Victorian age constantly reinforced that women were inferior to men, in every possible way. To keep this notion in control the society did not allow women to be educated or even if they were, still held the notion that they were not intelligent. Lilienfeld says that whenever Mr. Ramsay believes that his wife is intellectually inferior, he finds her more attractive. But Mrs. Ramsay is not content with her status in the marriage. Although she constantly defers to Mr. Ramsay and eventually blames herself for any anger felt, she does feel anger. Lilienfeld claims that the Ramsays do love each other, but because they are constrained and unable to communicate their marriage has many faults. Mr. Ramsay is unable to admit his wife’s intelligence because he is too self conscious of his own, while Mrs. Ramsay won’t allow herself to be occupied by anything outside of the domestic sphere. Therefore, Mrs. Ramsay forces her husband to have a strange dependency on her and they are not able to grow intellectually together.

Lilienfeld, Jane. "Where the Spear Plants Grew: the Ramsays' Marriage in To the Lighthouse." New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. Ed. Jane Marcus. Lincoln, 1981. 148-69. Print.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Critical Article

Karen DeMeester believes that the literature of the modernist period is completely affected by World War I. She claims that the war produced in the 1920’s a post-traumatic stress and psychological condition not only upon the veterans of the war, but also of the public. The trauma of combat was so intense and the devastation that was witnessed forever marred the inhabitants of that time period. In effect, the literature of the age was inspired from the trauma and horror of the war. In her essay, “Trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Obstacles to Postwar Recovery in Mrs. Dalloway”, DeMeester examines how Virginia Woolf portrayed the characterization of the veteran, Septimus Smith, and his trauma that led to his ultimate suicide. DeMeester believes that Woolf understood how veterans of this time were not necessarily given the adequate help they needed for their psychological trauma. After witnessing such horrors that can only happen in war, it is difficult to return to the civilized world. Septimus is disoriented and depressed, and DeMeester claims that these are tell-tale signs of a post-traumatic stress victim. When the person returns to society their reality becomes skewed. They are unable to process time as they previously did, and their consciousness becomes fragmented and jumbled. Woolf is able, DeMeester says, to mimic this confusion of thoughts and time through her stream of consciousness writing. She also claims that Woolf’s style is different from literature of the past and DeMeester says that Woolf mirrors the trauma survivors by showing her loss of faith in the previously held ideologies of the ages and of literature. Furthermore, she says that Woolf is able to portray through Septimus the trauma victim’s constant obsession and reliving of one particular traumatic event that begins to eventually envelope their life. The victim becomes so engrossed within the memory that they are unable to make progress and move on. DeMeester says that these observations and representations from Woolf of Septimus are decades ahead of science. It will not be until years later that science will describe post-traumatic stress as a medical condition, and Woolf’s depictions of Septimus will fit perfectly with the symptoms. Woolf’s representation of Septimus is also unique because she does not depict the usual symptoms that are generally referred to as “shell shock”. Instead, she delays Septimus post-traumatic stress until years after the war. At the time, it was previously believed that shell shock usually only lasted for about six months after the victim’s service had ended. However, Woolf was ahead of her time, because she had accurately produced in Septimus an example of the delayed war neurosis that struck at the victim’s identity. Simply put, the victim suffered an identity crisis that was produced from the stress and horror of the war. DeMeester says that the horrors of war strips the victim’s previously held views of civilization and humanity. They are confused by the evil and primitive nature that was witnessed. It is hard for them to acclimate back to the world when they realized the potential society has for depravity. It is further stressful for the victim to realize that the depravity is not gone, it is just held back by society’s civilized laws. Septimus is represented as having little emotions towards loved ones and DeMeester says that this indifference is a repercussion of battle. She claims that indifference is the only survivor tool they can use to cope with the grotesque images and assaults to the senses that they are forced to witness. DeMeester believes that Woolf shows how Septimus’s failure to bring meaning to the suffering is a part of his downfall. She says that trauma victims that can’t find meaning to the world or life are unable to escape their disorder.

DeMeester, Karen. "Trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Obstacles to Postwar Recovery in Mrs. Dalloway." Virginia Woolf and Trauma: Embodied Texts. By Suzette A. Henke and David Eberly. New York: Pace UP, 2007. 77-93. Print.

Waves Post 2

In Virginia Woolf’s novel, The Waves, the reader is introduced to six voices that reflect their lives and thoughts in poetic soliloquies. Although each voice is given a name, and the genders are split evenly, they are not completely separate entities. Some would like to call them characters, but to do so would be missing or even mistaking Woolf’s intentions for her work. The six voices are meant to mingle, separate, and unify throughout The Waves, because they represent the different selves that each human carries within them. Woolf herself said that she was surprised when people remarked that her characterization was excellent considering that she hadn’t intended to create characters. The form of the work and the connections between the voices form a single unifying whole that could be said to represent the human soul. People are not black and white, and Woolf knew this better than most. Instead, every person has different personalities and souls that govern our lives at certain times. It is said that her voices represent aspects of herself and of people close to her in real life. This idea would only reinforce her attempt to capture different aspects of the human psyche. At once, we are separate, and yet also the same in many ways. Just as the waves in the ocean are small ripples that separate themselves to charge the shore, they still return to the sea to complete the whole. It would be interesting to explore why Woolf was so fascinated to reveal the different psyches that inhabit each person and to what purpose? Is it possible that through the voices she is trying to show people that in the end we are all so similar that together we make one great whole: the ocean?
In her essay Modern Fiction, we are introduced to Woolf’s ideas of the human soul. She talks about how it is a luminous halo, and not a series of symmetrical gig lamps. Woolf does not believe that reality can be captured through one single interpretation. Instead, she believes that reality is represented through multiple subjective realities that are all intertwined. It is the individual’s perspectives that are subjective, and yet within each person there are more than one representations of the psyche.

In her essay Modern Fiction, we are introduced to Woolf’s ideas of the human soul. She talks about how it is a luminous halo, and not a series of symmetrical gig lamps. Woolf does not believe that reality can be captured through one single interpretation. Instead, she believes that reality is represented through multiple subjective realities that are all intertwined. It is the individual’s perspectives that are subjective, and yet within each person there are more than one representations of the psyche. Perspective and emotion are what govern the human mind. In each person we have a multi-personality that emerges in variations of time and place. Every moment of living is interpreted differently depending on our varying perspectives and emotions that are entangled within. The brain is a powerful organ, one that is not yet fully explored or understood. It could be argued that Woolf knew this better than most, and was very interested in capturing the different thoughts and ideas that are constantly racing through our mind. For many, the form of The Waves is very confusing. The six voices that speak eloquently, poetically, and with such sophistication are far from reality. Or are they? If one were to open the brain (philosophically and hypothetically speaking, not literally of course) but if we were to open a stranger’s head and allowed to listen to their thoughts would anything make sense? Furthermore, would everything sound the same or be grouped as one unifying whole? It’s impossible to say, but by looking at the form of The Waves one could argue that Woolf would say no.
There are similarities between the six voices, but there are also extremely differentiating characteristics that could be pinned to each voice. These differences are what make the multi-layered personality that represents the whole. The three women are very feminine, and the males are very masculine. Woolf believed that within each person, there is a resemblance of both genders residing in our characters. Whether we embrace or suppress either gender is up to the individual. Ginny could be argued to be the representation of vanity and frivolity, and perhaps even adventure. The city attracts her because of its fast pace, fashion, and lust that could be associated with a more urban setting. Susan represents the maternal and country. She is essentially the opposite of Ginny. And then there is Rhoda, the dark side of every human’s nature that lurks in the corner. Similar comparisons and descriptions could go on for the male characters. Louis is self-conscious, while Neville constantly looks for love. But the voice of Bernard stands out, and he certainly dominates much of The Waves.

At the end of The Waves, the reader is given only the voice of Bernard. This is interesting, because it could further reinforce the separate entities that reside in one person. Yes, there is only one perspective and voice, but could Bernard be a representation of the dominating part of the soul? Every person has different aspects to their personality, but we also have dominating features and traits that tend to reside over the others. Furthermore, Bernard’s presiding voice is at the end of the novel, when the characters have grown up. Could it not be argued that the older humans get the more we realize our true selves. At the beginning of the novel, we are given so many different voices, and only snippets of each voice. The voices are children and therefore have not developed into separate entities yet. As the novel progresses, the voices differentiate themselves from each other and grow into their own selves. Finally, at the end, the reader is left with just one voice, and perhaps this is Woolf’s way of saying that the individual has finally found the true self?

Critical Article

De Gay, Jane. "Virginia Woolf's Feminist Historiography in Orlando." Critical Survey 19.1 (2007): 62-72. Print.

Jane De Gay’s article, “Virginia Woolf’s Feminist Historiography in Orlando”, develops the argument that Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando, is her attempt at writing a female literary history, albeit a fantastical one, but still a history that promotes feminism. Gay’s argument stems from multiple statements that Woolf made in A Room of One’s Own about the lack of female literary history that had been yet to be discovered. Woolf urges her audience of collegiate women that it is their duty to discover the history’s female writers. Gay notes that although Woolf didn’t personally contribute an alternative literary history, she believes that Orlando is an example of a literary history and how it pertains to gender and its effect on the writer’s experiences. Since Woolf’s character of Orlando lives for 350 years and changes gender, Woolf is able to examine the different contexts of time and gender and how they affected the writing of the ages. Gay says that Woolf shows how when Orlando is a woman, her writing is not acknowledged until the 20th century, and she is forced to hide her work in the previous years. Gay claims that this representation is very important because Woolf wants to emphasize the constraints that have been put on the female writer. Gay also says that she mocks the male idea that each period should have a “spirit of the age” that describes the writing of the time. Gay believes that Woolf wanted to reveal that the past could not be separated from the present, and that each period of time builds upon the other. By having Orlando live, change, and grow throughout the 350 years, he is a metaphor for the molding and changing that happens in literature.

Critical Article

Lavine, Ann. "Virginia Woolf's The Legacy." The English Journal 75.2 (1986): 74-78. Print.

Ann Lavine explores the complexities behind Virginia Woolf’s writing in her article about one of her short stories called The Legacy. Lavine’s article, Virginia Woolf’s “The Legacy”, was inspired from teaching one of her high school classes where she found a way to introduce Woolf’s writing to the classroom. Lavine believes that to approach Woolf’s writing, one must accept that there are multiple themes and that reality is not meant to be presented as absolute. Lavine claims that Woolf believed that reality is interpreted through every person’s subjective personality, and therefore, there is never one precise answer or solution to anything. Lavine represented this subjective reality by splitting her classroom into two groups: each group choosing one of the two main characters and siding with one or the other as the protagonist. In the case of The Legacy, Lavine had her students pick whether they believed Gilbert had been wronged or Angela gave him what he desired. Lavine proposes a third way of interpreting the text, and claims that Woolf intended to have the multiple interpretations and that without it the text would not be the same. She notes that not much has been previously written about The Legacy. What had been written usually determined that the story represents the misunderstandings that each person has of one another, and even though we try in vain to have knowledge of other people we will always fail in ignorance and loneliness. Lavine disagrees with this conclusion, and says that it is more likely a representation of Woolf’s hatred of the patriarchy. She says that because we are only given the male perspective through Gilbert as the narrator our perception of Angela is skewed. Lavine believes that Woolf intended for this skewed reality, because it is a representation of the male reality that encompassed Woolf’s time period.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Critical Commentary: Sun Cycles=Fertility Rituals

Patricia Cramer

Jane Harrison and Lesbian Plots: The Absent Lover in Virginia Woolf's The Waves

Patricia Cramer opens her article, Jane Harrison and Lesbian Plots: The Absent Lover in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, with Virginia Woolf’s intentions behind her novel The Waves. Cramer says that Woolf wanted to invent a new type of literature and take modern conventions beyond anything done before. In doing so, Cramer believes that Woolf was taking a step away from male modernist’s conceptions on gender and sexuality, and was experimenting with a feminist and lesbian mindset. In earlier works, Woolf states that she finds it difficult to capture the female narrative, and in A Room of One‘s Own insinuates that someone should embark on writing a lesbian plot. Cramer says that Woolf was inspired through Jane Harrison’s description of a ritual drama centered on women. Cramer reveals through letters, diary entries, and essays that Woolf considered Harrison, who was a classicist and archaeologist, a visionary for women and respected her deeply. Furthermore, Cramer reveals that Harrison’s own lesbian relationship mirrored Woolf’s affair with Vita Sackville-West. The article explains how Harrison and Woolf both held the same atheist mystical views as well as a feminist mindset. Cramer says that Harrison believed in the mystical forces that lurked beneath the surface of everyday life, and this was the same essence that Woolf wanted to capture in The Waves. The pagan worship of the female and fertility that interested Harrison are reflected in The Waves. The sun cycle that organizes the novel is based on what Cramer says are fertility rites that were identified by Harrison. Cramer believes that Harrison’s gynocentric rituals helped to mould Woolf’s idea of a novel that keeps women in the center and not existing around the edges.

Cramer, Patricia. "Jane Harrison and Lesbian Plots: The Absent Lover in Virginia Woolf's The Waves." Rpt. in Virginia Woolf. Stamford: University of Conneticut. 443-63.

Critical Article

Erwin R. Steinberg

Mrs. Dalloway and T.S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land

Erwin R. Steinberg’s article, Mrs. Dalloway and T.S. Eliot’s Personal Waste Land, adds expanded critical theories to James E. Miller’s book, T.S. Eliot’s Personal Waste Land. Miller argues that Eliot’s poem The Waste Land was written in memory of a French medical student that lived in the same boarding house in Paris as Eliot in 1910-1911, and who later died in a battle of World War I. Steinberg says that reviews have been critical of Miller’s theory and say that more evidence is needed. Steinberg suggests that more evidence can be found in the relationship between Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway, and The Waste Land. Steinberg opens his article by showing the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Eliot that began in 1918 and blossomed during the years of 1922 and 1925 when Mrs. Dalloway was under construction. Steinberg claims that through that year of interactions between Woolf and Eliot he can provide circumstantial evidence to support Miller’s theory that The Waste Land depicts Eliot’s sadness over the loss of his friend. Steinberg refers to Miller’s book many times throughout the article to reinforce his new theory. Miller has multiple examples of Eliot claiming through letters and other documents that Prufrock and Other Observations were based on his friend. Steinberg believes that Septimus in Mrs. Dalloway reflects Eliot’s life and his grieving over the loss of a friend. Furthermore, he points out that there are passages around Clarissa in the novel that allude to young men going into battle to meet their death. Steinberg believes that the connections between Septimus and Eliot are too closely related to be coincidental and that it reinforces Miller’s argument behind the inspiration for The Waste Land.

Steinberg, Erwin R. "Mrs. Dalloway and T.S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land." Carnegie-Mellon University. Web.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Waves and Rhoda

Our class was forewarned multiple times that Woolf’s The Waves would be a wild surf ride. On the back of the book it is proclaimed her masterpiece and greatest invention. I didn’t know what any of these statements meant specifically. The only detail that I was given was that Woolf broke away from any superimposed literary rules.
I didn’t take the warning (is that the right word?) too seriously. I planned on reading the introduction after I had dipped my toe into the waves first. Sometimes it’s fun to start out with no biases or expectations. It also seemed fitting for the book (I don’t think I can say novel) that was meant to be free of conventions.
I used the word “warning” above because The Waves is a tough read. Molly Hite speaks true when she says in the introduction that the language is not difficult, it’s the structure and the allusions/metaphors that can leave the reader quite confused. I don’t know whether or not to be comforted with the knowledge that most find the work difficult or to be hurt that I am what Leonard referred to as the, “common reader”. Oh well, I never presumed that I was on Woolf’s intellectual level; the generation of TV is not likely to produce the greatest genius.
Oh Rhoda, Rhoda, Rhoda…(sigh) I have been assigned to the darker part of the human psyche. What a depressing soul. But, in all honesty, for anyone that has dealt with depression or was close with someone who suffered from the disease, it’s a very accurate portrayal of what goes on within that person’s mind. It goes beyond mere awkwardness or shyness. Woolf captures the brutal beating that the depressed mind continually gives to the sufferer. It’s this self defeat and depreciation that never ends and it keeps chipping away at whatever resilience the person might be holding onto. The depressed person gets so caught up in the negative voice that permeates into every thought and situation that eventually they become lost within their own mind. Rhoda says, “…Susan and Jinny have faces; they are here. Their world is the real world.” The negative voice dictates so much of their life that the depressed person becomes so consumed within. Then they don’t know what to do when faced with reality. There is no doubt that Rhoda is terribly shy and self-conscious. She spends so much time dreaming that she doesn’t know what to do in social situations. But she makes sure to punish her awkward mistakes severely with constant personal negative thoughts.
Rhoda hates to see herself in the looking glass. Jinny doesn’t like to just see her head, but doesn’t mind when she can see herself full-length. They are allusions to how we see ourselves, and not just pertaining to how we feel about our physical self. Rhoda hates everything about herself. Her depression makes her see the negative side to everything. Her self-degradation is so intense that she imagines herself as being invisible with no face. Jinny’s interpretation of herself seems like the average healthy person’s response. She realizes she has some faults, but overall, she is content with the whole. She approaches her character in a reasonable, logical, and fair way. No one is perfect, but there are overriding good qualities that make the entire person something to be proud of. Again, like the other works, perception is everything. How a person sees and interprets the world means everything.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Critical Commentary: Orlando and the Sackvilles

Frank Baldanza’s article, Orlando and the Sackvilles, is a quick insight into Virginia Woolf’s human inspirations behind her novel Orlando. Though the article, published in 1955, would probably be considered dated by modern literary critics, the information provided does give the general reader a good impression of the background for Woolf’s characters and setting. Baldanza gives a brief introduction of Orlando and its thematic elements. He says that it was Woolf’s desire to capture the essence of people and the multiple personalities, or selves, which people carry around on a day to day basis. And from this, Woolf wanted through the character of Orlando to show how it all depends on time and circumstance to reveal certain traits or aspects of the self. Baldanza goes on to say that Orlando was based on Woolf’s friend Vita Sackville-West. He does imply that Woolf was able to explore sexual differences and gender discrepancies through the basis of Vita, but he doesn’t mention anything about the modern day assumption that they she and Woolf were lovers. Whether he personally chose to forgo this information, whether it was unknown, or whether the fifties considered it impolite to discuss lesbian affairs is up to another, more knowledgeable critic to decide. Baldanza compares many similar quotations from Vita’s Knole and the Sackvilles, her work about the Sackville family’s extremely large country house called Knole, to passages and descriptions in Orlando. Also, he notes that as Orlando is a depiction of Vita, many of the other characters are inspired from her ancestors or portraits that line the walls of Knole. Baldanza’s article is not so much a literary criticism as it is a view into the historical context that motivated Woolf.

Baldanza, Frank. "Orlando and the Sackvilles." PMLA 70.1 (March 1955): 274- 79. Clemson University Blackboard. Web. 19 Oct. 2010.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jacob's Room

I never really enjoyed Jacob’s Room. I didn’t want to necessarily say that when I first read it because I wasn’t sure if that’s how I would feel about all of Virginia’s novels. I’m actually glad that I can write about it now from a more, I don’t know, educated perspective? Looking back with more knowledge of Virginia’s work, I can see that much of my dislike probably came from her difficulty of establishing the narrator’s position. It was a beginning work for her, and she was still experimenting with the modern style. At certain points in the novel, it was hard to actually follow along with what was going on or who was saying what. She would transition from one character to another so quickly without enough literary clues that the whole process of reading the work became difficult. I can see why some of her critics didn’t enjoy Jacob’s Room. Obviously, she has amazing talent and the genius is there, it just needed some direction. I think Virginia just got so excited with letting herself be free and being able to try something so different she wasn’t worried about the average reading trying to follow along.
There is no doubt that Virginia’s greatest talent in life was capturing the human spirit or soul. The reader would be introduced to a stranger, like the woman on the train with Jacob, and we would only be given a short passage with her involved, but there would be such life involved. And not only that, but we are given something that every person can identify with. One gets the sense that in the end, as much as we might life to think that we are all so different, we are all very much alike. Of course we might have our own personal quirks and preferences, but we all share many qualities. Virginia has a way of finding those similarities between all people while at the same time showcasing how unique everyone can be. I think this is such an amazing talent because it’s hard to imagine how other people perceive the world. Perhaps the greatest difficulty for any writer would be forgetting their own self while writing. It’s a natural tendency for people to sympathize or insert their own experiences into everyday conversation, movie, and music, let alone your own novel! And Virginia is there, her experiences are there. We know that Jacob represents her brother and she describes him as she knew him.
As much as we get to know “strangers” in the novel, the reader never really knows Jacob. Everyone is trying to find Jacob and attach themselves onto this elusive and mysterious person. He is beautiful, but unknown in many ways. All of his women try to find a way into his heart, but even they can’t really reach him. Even as a child, while he is searching for creatures at the beach, his brother calls for him in vain while at the same time his mother wonders where he has gone. Everyone is trying to find him and they never do. It could be an allusion or metaphor for the loss of Jacob. He dies at so young of an age during the war. He dies before he even knows who he truly is or has had a chance to establish his place in the world.

First Half of Orlando

In the introduction to our edition of Orlando it says that the story was written as part love letter to Vita. In some ways I suppose I see the romantic aspect. However, if it was my lover writing about me I think I would be highly offended to be Orlando. He/She (I will just refer to Orlando as a he for the rest of the post because he is mostly a male in the first half) is not a very faltering portrayal of a person. I couldn’t get over how privileged a life Orlando leads. He is so beautiful that wherever he goes things are handed to him and women fall in love with him. Even Queen Elizabeth is so enthralled with Orlando that she appoints him to a high place in court without him having to say a word. He has never had to work a day in his life. He stays locked up in his grand house away from society and spends his hours thinking because he has so much money. This laziness and perhaps dare I say, pointlessness is something only reserved to the fantastically rich of the world. Poor people, or even normal people can’t sit on a hill and wonder what the meaning of love, friendship, or life is forever because at one point we will starve! Virginia realizes this though and she has Orlando suffer for his riches. Orlando’s deepest yearning is to be a poet and be an amazing one at that. He wiles away hundreds of hours contemplating how to write the perfect prose. Yet, in the end, his writing isn’t worth much and Nick Greene laughs at him and writes his own poem at Orlando’s expense. The reader doesn’t necessarily feel sorry for Orlando because he hasn’t done enough in his life to actually be able to write about anything. To write, one must write what one knows, and to know something, then one must actually do something! His idleness has perhaps been his own downfall to his writing.
I really enjoyed the parts where Orlando would fall into a deep slumber that resemble something like a coma. There is a passage where the narrator philosophizes on why people, in general, need sleep. The narrator claims that sleep is the closest time we come to death while we are living. He (since we can suppose that the narrator is meant to be a man) says that when we sleep we actually die. The narrator claims that we need to die to get through our day to day lives. Without a peaceful pause we could not live. “Are we so made that we have to take death in small doses daily or we could not go on with the business of living?” I had never considered before sleeping as a practice towards death. I suppose if any wonders what it’s like to be dead they could just sleep for a while. Orlando does seem to die in some ways during his comatose sleeps. Whenever he wakens he enters into a new phase of his life. Could these sleeps be a metaphor for the different phases we all go through in our own lives? At some point every person has a transition period where the old self is shed off and we emerge as a better, more intelligent version.
In class we talked about catching the mood or essence of different ages. Before we had talked about that in class I remember reading the part where the narrator describes the Elizabethan era. The narrator describes it as if everything was more brilliant and colorful. “Sunsets were redder and more intense; dawns were whiter and more auroral.” Everything seemed to have intensity to it. It (and it could be anything) was either bold or it didn’t happen or exist. Of course, these descriptions of nature are not to be considered literally true. Things looked the same as they did now. The difference is the way that people perceived them. Everything we do and think and see are all matters of perspective. From the descriptions we realize that the people of that era had a zest and passion that governed their lives. It makes a modern reader jealous of that attitude. If we had to describe the modern era’s mood or perspective, I would say bored. Thanks to technology we are always waiting or wanting the next best thing. I bet Virginia would have had a field day with our time period.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time Passes

The Time Passes section in To the Lighthouse is a complete change from The Window section. People seem to have disappeared. In The Window time was stretched out into a long passage, spanning over one afternoon. However, in Time Passes, time really does pass, ten years in fact, in a short passage. It was interesting to encounter Virginia writing over a span of time. Much of her writing seems to be condensed to short moments that seem so much longer in the minds of the characters. Going back to what was discussed about velocity, there is a sense of uncontrollable or even rational thought towards how time works. Time is not a tangible thing, it is psychological for people. A moment can last for hours or seem like a wisp in time. Everyone is living by their own clocks and their own time.
I got the impression that people weren’t very important in Time Passes. Earlier in the novel, so much had been focused on the inner workings of the characters’ minds. But in this section, whether there are people present or not, there is an absence of human life. There is something there though. The wind and the dust and the things that surround us on our day to day journeys are always present. I found that interesting because they are the things that people tend to find to have no intense value or importance in the grand scheme of life. They are a passing thought or comment, for sure, but they are ignored. It is ironic because in the end they will outlast us. They are more important to the world because they are the everlasting components that make the world go around to say. Mr. Ramsay with his philosophy will be forgotten as will Lily’s paintings at some point.
I mentioned this is in my post about Miss Ormerod…Virginia is fascinated or maybe terrified by the impact of the human print. So many of her characters are living day to day worrying about staying around after they are gone while they should be focusing on the important things. Her characters are always making mistakes, which is fine because that is what people do anyway in real life.
The reader gets the harsh reality that death is sudden and does not necessarily live that much of an impact as we would like to think it would. We would hope that there will be some to mourn our death, but in the end the ones that mourn for us will be forgotten and with them we are gone in the dust. The dust in the house that the housekeeper cleans away seems to be a reminder that that is what we will all become at one point. An indistinguishable particle that has nothing to say for itself and means nothing to anyone. It is dust, it is there, but it’s just dust.
I know my posts are always slightly morbid, but so is Virginia. She chooses these subjects and they are not light ones. Whatever joys she found in life, there aren’t many reflected in her work. I do find it ironic that she makes death out as such a depressing end in all and that everyone will be forgotten while she is writing a novel that is about her dead parents quite frequently.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mrs. Dalloway

How does Leonard feel about Virginia’s opinions on marriage?  I wouldn’t call her opinion gracious or even optimistic on the union of man and woman.  In Jacob’s Room she has her main character depicted as a slight womanizer, in Miss Ormerod she respects her for being single, in Mrs. Dalloway her main character has chosen marriage for ease and comfort and not for love.  I do understand that when someone writes a novel they aren’t necessarily writing about themselves, but then again, how can anyone forget themselves?  There isn’t exactly a pure trend in any of works other than her seemingly grudge towards marriage.  Another quick example would be in A Room of One’s Own..didn’t Virginia claim that the only way a woman can write is if she has an income from some type of source and a place that she owns personally?  It would seem that Virginia respects single women.  I know that she was married later in life considering the time period that she lived in.  But I also know that she had an affair with someone named Vita?  I realize this is going off on a tangent but I since our entire seminar is focused around Virginia it would make sense to know the woman behind the writing.
                Peter strikes me as a self conscious individual. Why? Well, perhaps it comes from Peter showing up on Mrs. Dalloway’s doorstep seeking something, even after their relationship ended 30 years ago.  Furthermore, he can’t help but to criticize Mrs. Dalloway in his mind while he doesn’t focus on the person he should, himself.  He thinks that she has aged and yet he links himself to a younger crowd, being unwilling to accept his own aging.  As he follows the unknown young woman through the streets of London it echoes Peter’s own disillusionment about his path in life. He is older and yet he doesn’t feel accomplished or has found his true passion. According to Mrs. Dalloway he didn’t follow through with his dreams, and perhaps his walk through London shows his confusion about how to find his own route by himself.   
                In a way, Mrs. Dalloway is presented as a sad character.  She wants to give her life purpose by completing the small day to day tasks that she can do, but in reality she doesn’t have to do anything.  Mrs. Dalloway could sit in a chair and command her servants, and she would never have to lift a finger.  However, the reader gets the sense that she isn’t content to be lazy and unproductive.  The first line in the novel that states she will get the flowers herself seems to emphasize her desire for independence and purpose.  I get the impression that Virginia pities Mrs. Dalloway because she was unable to follow her own path.  Instead, Mrs. Dalloway decided to conform and take the easiest, respectable choice.  The reader knows that Mrs. Dalloway has an adventurous side to her that she has beaten down for so long.  Mrs. Dalloway kissed a woman and was thrilled by the experience.  She also enjoys Peter but turns him down because she knows he would be an unsafe choice.  Mrs. Dalloway is sadly her own person, but she has made herself into just another woman of her time. She had the potential to be special and unique, but she was too scared to act on her desires. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Miss Ormerod

A whirlwind, a snapshot of one woman's life. A brief glimpse that is meant to capture a whole person. The greatness of life and also the...perhaps existentialist reality of life all at the same time?

My thoughts are confused and I just had to write my first immediate thoughts after reading.

This will be the last time that I claim that I'm confused, but I am. I can't help it. The story was so jumbled, which makes me angry because I know in the madness there is so much sanity. Her writing is a puzzle with missing pieces and she expects you to figure out the intention of the lost fragments. The fact that one can even realize what she must be intending proves her great ability at capturing human nature. Her depictions of people's actions and reactions are so dead-on to reality that it gives me chills. There are those moments in life where you find yourself having an epiphany about something-I'm not sure what the moment is, it's different for everyone-but they don't happen that often and they are hard to describe and translate to the world. Woolf seems to have the genius of so many epiphanies and the ability to transcribe them and then the power to jumble them up into a riddle to play with our minds.

Miss Ormerod's life was made from the insects and the insects made her. They are interchangeable. At once, the insects are nothing. Their lives are pointless. The death of the swimming beetle means nothing. Even as he is ripped apart, it is just another part of nature. Miss Ormerod was an important figure in the insect world, and yet when she dies she will just be another fragment of time. Her true identity lost. All that is left is her name and her accomplishments, her contributions, but nothing else. The woman is gone forever. Her grave stone epigraph might signify her connection with the insects and how they will be the only thing that will be left of her in the endless years to come. I believe Woolf wanted her Eleanor to know the reality of death and the inevitable: at one point you will be forgotten and therefore your existence gone.

There is a morbid tone to the story. I wouldn't want to throw out the word depressing, instead I feel a detachment. It is an acceptance of reality and the perhaps the true meaning behind life. A person’s life is fleeting and another small part of the world. But there is the reassurance that Eleanor followed her own path. Her happiness came from her passion and therefore even if she is forgotten in the sands of time, she has still won. As people mocked her climbing in trees and found her odd, they weren't realizing that they were losing the precious moments of their life. Their conformity and the fear of criticisms and judgments seem to signify a waste.

Woolf’s fascination with nature and the connections that many people are blind to is very interesting. Woolf knows how we are all so much more connected than the average person can realize. It is obvious that she respected Ormerod for her passion.

The separation of the sections, or the “snapshots”, as we talked about earlier in class, are the brief insights we are allowed of Miss Ormerod. The reader is allowed so much and yet so little. Actions and dialogue let the reader learn the character, we are given nothing for free. Woolf wants to make her reader work, which I find myself loving and hating all at the same time. I have never been so frustrated by a writer before in my lifetime. I think I actually get mad at her sometimes.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Woolf's Style and The Mark on the Wall

After reading and hearing the presentation about Virginia Woolf’s life, I must say that I am stunned. Why stunned? Well maybe amazed is a better word. I am amazed that this woman wrote so many different things. Not counting her novels, of which there are many, Woolf wrote biographies, a memoir, essays, and short stories. I couldn’t help but find myself wondering, where did she find all the time to write all these things? Furthermore, she didn’t just produce a story or an opinion, she produced work, or art. Delving into a few of her works—some essays and two short stories—I realized this woman was brilliant. There are moments when I find myself thinking, “I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about” or “Where did that come from and how does it pertain to what I just read?” Her style comes off at times as erratic and dare I say, spastic? But it wouldn’t be fair to just leave the description at just that. Yes, in my personal opinion, I find her writing a bit hard to follow. But there are also those special moments that I’ve already encountered during reading that make me wonder if I have finally gotten the purpose of her writing style? Of course, a minute later I’m thrown off the boat again and I don’t know how she got to that place in her mind. I have felt like I am taking a tour of her mind as I read. She doesn’t seem to take a breath, and therefore one gets the sensation that they are a true part of her mind. I suppose people like to think that any reading is a sort of delving into the author’s mind. It is their inner voice put onto paper. I would agree with this but after reading Woolf I wonder how many authors would be embarrassed to say that they tried to let their true self and thoughts into their work. Going back to how Woolf found the time to construct so many great works, I have concluded that A) she is very smart—beyond smart, perhaps brilliant…and B) she wrote down exactly what she was thinking and didn’t try to hide any nitty gritty aspect. If you write down what a brilliant person is thinking one would assume it would come out brilliant, right?

So there are my premature ramblings on Woolf’s writing. I have just begun my reading so don’t judge my opinions too quickly.

The Mark on the Wall was a mixture of confusion and enjoyment. Usually those two don’t run hand in hand, but I promise that’s how I felt at the end of my reading. When I was finished my first thought was, “What was that about?” Obviously, it was about a mark on the wall, if one wants to be just literal. But I don’t think it was really about a mark on the wall at all. Yes, the mark was there, but the mark had nothing to do with the purpose of the story. Whoever the narrator is, they are thinking, and those thoughts go up, down, and all around. Each thought springs from the mark, but they have nothing to do with the mark. The story reminded me of the power of the human mind. Our imagination is so crazy and different in each person. I think to be confused by the narrators thoughts would be appropriate because it isn’t your thoughts! Every person is thinking something different, and how we view the world is in our own perception that we have created. Each perception is original and therefore amazing. If people could actually record their own thoughts and were not embarrassed to let everything they think be put down onto paper, I think everyone would be confusing and quite odd. Perhaps some are odder than others, but I bet in their minds they make perfect sense. It all comes from the millions of moments and seconds that make up our entire being. Our thoughts are a combination of moments and our unique personality. The Mark on the Wall revealed to me the power of the human mind and just how differently we all interpret the world.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Introduction Post

I must admit that coming into this class I feel that I am at a disadvantage. In the beginning, I had absolutely no knowledge of Virginia Woolf. Of course I had heard of her since I am somewhat involved in the literary world (being an English major and what not), but that was about as far as my knowledge went. At this point in time, I have read a biography about her and her memoir. Also, I have dipped into Jacob’s Room so that I could see her style firsthand. I was told that her style is confusing and somewhat crazy. I didn’t exactly know what that meant until I had begun my reading of Jacob’s Room. Her style does seem erratic and sometimes I didn’t understand where she was or what she was talking about.

Even so, I must admit that my first dip into the pond got me excited. Looking at all the different conferences and articles written about her and her works made me feel curious. Obviously, this woman’s talent is very profound and there is so much depth to her writing. It amazed me that there is a conference just about nature. The idea that there is a lot of dog imagery throughout her work seemed a bit strange, but it’s exciting that her work has so many small pieces.

I was surprised when I found out that there were Virginia Woolf societies. When I learned that there was a group in Japan I almost laughed. I’m happy that literature still has the power to involve so many people and bring them together from such vast distances. In today’s world, a lot of people scoff at the idea of “wasting” your money on an English major. However, just seeing these different groups that are still so inspired and involved in this woman’s work makes me realize why the study of literature is so important. The fact that Woolf’s literature has remained so important and fascinating to people all over the world emphasizes the importance of expression.

Another thing that I’m excited about learning from Woolf is the beginning of women’s freedom and suffrage. The conference on “Women Walking the City” was interesting to me because it reminded me that this was the first time in history that women could be alone and not be considered a fallen woman. For modern women, we don’t realize or relish the opportunity of independence. We forget that women of the past were essentially trapped, even when they went into public. I’m sure the newfound freedom is echoed in Woolf’s work and her experiences with it.

All in all, I’m nervous that I will miss many important points and details in Woolf’s work. She seems so intelligent and grand that I worry I won’t be intelligent enough to fully grasp her style. Even so, I plan to try, so wish me luck!