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!

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.

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