Special Sub-Topic: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
|What was the name of the group of writers, artists, economists and philosophers of the early 20th century with whom Woolf was associated?|
The Bloomsbury Group. These people were active as a group from about 1904 until World War II. Some of the most famous, ground-breaking people of those times were involved, including economist John Maynard Keynes, novelist E.M. Forster, painters Clive Bell and Vanessa Woolf. At first they were associated with activities considered radical, and then later they were denigrated for being too intellectual, too aesthetically upper class.
|Her childhood was haunted by death (her mother's in particular) and what she thought was sexual abuse by relatives. She worked her way out of some of this by writing and in her marriage to a famous social activist and writer. What was the first name of her husband who would later advise against her having a child since he thought her mind was too unstable for motherhood?|
Leonard. He was elected to the prestigious Cambridge Apostles whose members included Strachey, Bell, Thoby, Woolf's brother, Keynes, and E. M. Forster. He was a an administator in the Colonial Office in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He wrote fiction, memoirs, and political writings, like "International Government." Very importantly, he was the founding editor of The Hogarth Press, which published James Joyce, Woolf, Mansfield and many other new writers. He lived a very long life, from 1880 to 1969.
|Virginia Woolf was the daughter of a famous nineteenth century scholar and the first editor of the "Dictionary of National Biography." He inspired a mixture of admiration and fear in Woolf. Her maiden name could be a man's name.|
Stephen. Her father was a famous Victorian journalist and biographer who supported the North during the American Civil War. He was a great walker, a mountaineer, one of the first presidents of the Mountaineers' Club as well as authoring "The History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century" (1876 and 1881) and "The Science of Ethics" (1882).
|What is the name of Woolf's most famous journey novel, which many say is modelled on her parents? In this novel they are called Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay.|
"To the Lighthouse". It is interesting that Woolf later says that because he was so demanding she could not have written what she did if her father had remained alive. Woolf's painter sister Vanessa thought the character of Mrs Ramsay was evocatively like her mother: "You have given a portrait of mother which is more like her than anything I could ever have conceived possible. It is painful to have her so raised from the dead. You have made one feel the extraordinary beauty of her character, which must be the most dificult thing in the world to do." The novel is a brilliant example of Woolf's revolutionary, highly influential, approach to writing fiction.
|Woolf wanted to find a new kind of novel which was neither fictional nor factual. Her effort to write such a book brought about one of her mental breakdowns. What is the title of her narrative effort to capture the sense of time passing and the contours of historical periods? |
"The Years". Woolf hoped that she could write a new form, what she called "an Essay-Novel, initially called "The Partigers" which would hold everything, including sex, learning, living, etc. and move in strong and deft jumps across the waves of time from 1880 to here and now. The title changed from "The Partigers," but it always had this sense of scope and coverage. This book reflected her interest in combining the objective and subjective. Its title reveals an effort to capture a sense of time passing and the contours of historical periods. Woolf would also write in other forms: biographies of her famous friend Roger Fry and also of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cat, Flush, essays, and fiction spanning many centuries.
|Woolf's novel "Mrs. Dalloway" takes place in one day, contrasting the story of Clarissa Dalloway with the life of traumatized World War I veteran Septimus Smith. This structure has reminded many critics of "Ulysses," the Modernist novel by an Irish writer, famous for his novel "Portrait of The Artist a Young Man." Which writer?|
James Joyce. For Woolf, the novel is not a definite closed physical shape which a reader sees, but emotions which readers come to feel. She believes that the writer's intensity of feeling will make the book more exact.
|Woolf's name is often equated with her book of essays called "A Room of One's Own," in which she explores women's creativity and education. She examines women writers and mental attitudes of people and speaks a lot of a kind of mental equality. What is her name for this balance?|
Androgyny. She wrote of what she called an "androgynous vision." She says she wanted to outline a sketch of the human mind, in which in each person two forces reign, the male, the female. Normally, she saw, in a man's mind, the male rules over the female and in a woman's mind, the female rules over the male. Woolf hoped to change that--to find that androgynous balancing point in which these two forces--male and female--would cooperate in the mind, not battle or dominate the other. Her androgynous mind would be harmonious for male and female, each mind having both male and female in it acting cooperatively--in marriage, in creation, in life.
|Woolf's writing is new. It is not only stream of consciousness, with the author taking a picture of the contents of a person thinking. Woolf sees it more intimately. What does she call her method?|
Tunnelling. In her diary entry of August 30th 1923, Woolf writes that she has made a discovery: she found that she was digging caves out behind her characters--caves of a new kind of inner exploration. Her hope is that she will not only dig deeper into isolated separate caves, but that one day the caves can connect and come into the light of day. Her method becomes collaborative. It does not want to record what each isolated person thought. It becomes a method of bringing perception into the light in her tunnelling. She is famous also for writing "Moments of Being" and "On Modern Fiction," which describe exactly what she hoped for from this new focus in fiction. Generally, it would concentrate on perception and not exclusively on external events.
|Following the bombing of their home in London in World War II, the Woolfs left London and lived permanently at their second home in Sussex. At this time, she was composing her final novel which was structured like a theater perfomance. It was like a play within a novel, with the audience a active part of what was going on.|
"Between the Acts". This radical novel was published in 1941 not very long after her suicide. It has been likened to a festival play, a play which involves the community in a new way. It parallels Woolf's insistence on developing a collective kind of art without excessively solitary characters. The action occurs at Pointz Hall, which has been the country home of the Oliver family for 120 years. The novel focuses on the village pageant, which tries to bring alive the history of England from the Middle Ages to 1939. It blends comic moments between the actors, the strong responses of the village audience, the bonding of past and present, all of which show Woolf's efforts to present art as unifying in all parts of living.
|In those final years of her life, she did not feel she could write ever again. In 1941, she wrote two suicide notes to her husband. How did she kill herself?|
Filled her pockets with stones and drowned in the River Ouse. She tells him, "Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again: I feel we can't go through another of these terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight it any longer."
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