Woolf on Wednesday

Because I’m reading Virginia Woolf this year. And probably next year.

If I wish to add some cooking and eating to the reading, the Guardian provides plenty of help. (The Manchester Guardian, as Woolf would have written; I have learned that she wrote a number of her earliest articles and essays for a Church of England paper also called the Guardian). There are also suggestions and analyses available in the literature, for example, the following from an article discussing Woolf’s repurposing of Mansfield: “In each of these stories, in a scene whose details reveal how patriarchy secures women’s cooperation in their own disempowerment, female characters devour a tasty roast fowl whose fate symbolizes their own.” (Nardin, Jane. “Poultry for Dinner in Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Prelude’ and Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Shooting Party’.” The Midwest Quarterly, no. 3, 2011, p. 293.)

Some librarians still get to answer wonderful reference questions like “What brand of typewriter did Virginia Woolf use?” Yes, I’m honestly jealous.

Finally, Ursula K. Le Guin, in Steering the Craft, quotes Woolf on “the mystery at the very center of what a writer does,” and also notes that “there is going to be more Virginia Woolf in this book than any other author.”

“Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it…”

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