Tuesday, January 30, 2007


A while back, I thought I would make a casual effort to collect Woolf-ish things in the blogosphere. The project has taken a while to get off the ground and I’ve been wondering why.

I think that it partly made this blog feel a bit too official to me--something that always makes me a bit itchy. Fernham seems to be at its best as long as I keep it loose. Every time I get really good at meeting my (pitifully modest) goal of four posts per week and my sitemeter count upticks a bit, I get nervous and busy and turn my head away from the blog just long enough for my readership to fall back off, for the blog to return to its rightful place, on the backburner of my life.

Then, too, I subscribed to weekly Google alerts for “Woolf” and “Virginia Woolf” only to find lots and lots of references to people writing about the movie, or noting that they just read Mrs. Dalloway for the first time and didn’t much care for it, or saying that some day they might want to read Woolf. These aren’t the kind of rich, nuanced readings that I was hoping to link to, to weave together.

Still, I watch, I look and I read. And I have found some wonderful tidbits for you:
  • Amardeep Singh posts a lovely meditative appreciation of “Street Haunting,” one of Woolf’s great essays--and an essay getting a lot of scholarly attention of late. The essay is simply about walking in the city in winter, about concocting an errand to justify the “journey” and all the little encounters along the way. Since he posts it over at the Valve, there are some amusingly churlish responses, too.
  • Mrs. Bookworld has been gobbling Woolf’s diaries. I was so jealous of her that I began doing the same. Shame to say, I’ve never read the diaries the whole way through. Now, with a new Woolf project, I have all the more reason to begin. And what I delight they are. Now, rather than envy Mrs. Bookworld (who is, after all, convalescing from foot surgery these few weeks--get well soon!!), I envy Woolf herself. Interesting people are constantly interrupting her work. When my doorbell rings, it tends to be UPS with a package for upstairs. When hers rings, it’s her friend Walter Lamb, just in from seeing the Queen--“he always stops by after he’s been to see the Queen,” she says with mild irritation and then, recalling his good gossip (about the King demonstrating how ill-fitting his dentures are), decides that it is kind of fun to have him around.
  • Bloglily spent some time with Strachey’s Eminent Victorians in December (she, too, is on a health break--good luck with the radiation therapy, Bloglily--a strange thing to add parenthetically, but a sincere wish nonethless.)
  • And probably most famous of all, Susan Hill’s blog resumes its Woolf for Dummies Course. This last is the strangest to me. In my ignorance, I don’t know her work, but her blog is set up almost entirely for readers--especially high school students--who are coming to the web for help in writing papers on her. The “course” is briskly encouraging--kind of a Barbara Woodhouse for readers instead of dog owners (Woolfies! Woolfies!).
  • I keep thinking Imani must have had something to say about Woolf, but this is all I have found…so far…

And then, all of a sudden, I have found, too, tons of delightfully random, not totally literary references to Woolf from blogs I never would have found otherwise.
  • There’s a great critique of the limitations of SuperGirl that draws upon A Room of One’s Own here,
  • and here is a review of a play based on Woolf’s The Waves--surely one of the great “unfilm-able” novles, but one that had had many dramatic interpretations,
  • I’m a little jealous that a pretty picture and a very brief quotation from Woolf can garner so many comments here,
  • but it’s a sign of how Woolf continues to inspire. As is this lovely entry at Hot Toddy, on Woolf’s diaries as an inspiration for blogging,
  • and, strangely enough, Woolf can even be an inspiration for parenting!

Finally, the Woolf listserv, which has many, many more readers than Fernham, has been abuzz of late with the connections between Patti Smith and Woolf. Apparently, as googling them shows, Smith acknowledges Woolf as a major influence and has given several performances and exhibitions on the connection.

Off web, my copy of Susan Gubar’s latest book, Rooms of Our Own arrived in the mail today. I can’t wait!!!

So, those are the passing glances to Woolf around the web this month


electrostani said...

Hi Anne, thanks for linking to me -- and for all these other links! It will take awhile to check them all out...

BTW, what have scholars been writing about 'Street Haunting'? I'm not quite up on current Woolf scholarship. Any sample citations you could give would be a help...

These days, I much prefer Virginia Woolf to Patti Smith. Maybe it's something to do with turning 30... I also have a tough time getting past "Rock n roll n----r," a song which I find to be irresponsible on matters of race.

Bud Parr said...

Edward Menelson just published a book " The Things that Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life" where Woolf figures prominently

Unknown said...

Randi Saloman has just published a whole essay on "Street Haunting" and so has someone else... (The IVWS [Intl. Virginia Woolf Society] website @ Toronto has an online bibliography that can be quicker and more complete than a broader database search.)

Additionally, all the work on women spectators/flaneurs/flaneuses makes use of that essay. In that crowd, Rachel Bowlby & Rita Felski are the stand-outs.

I have Mendelson's book--I admire his work on Auden & am eager to take a look into this one: it's very much in a Woolfian traditon of writing as and for the Common Reader.

Thanks, Amardeep & Bud!

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