Monday, June 27, 2011


Back from Uruguay this morning. The chivitos were delicious. I was treated like a princess. The Woolfians of the Southern Cone were amazing and I learned so much it will take me days to process, but let us say that Montevideana VII was a wonderful, unforgettable experience. Wow!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The 21 Woolf Conferences

How many have you been to? My 14 are in bold:

1.     Pace U--NYC (Mark Hussey) 1991           
2.     Southern Conn State U--New Haven (Vara Neverow) 1992
3.     Lincoln U--Jefferson City (Jane Lilienfeld) 1993
4.     Bard College--Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (Paul Connolly) 1994
5.     Otterbein College--Westerville, OH (Beth Daugherty) 1995
6.     Clemson U--Clemson, SC (Wayne Chapman and Elisa Sparks) 1996
7.     Plymouth College--Plymouth, NH (Jeanne Dubino) 1997
8.     St. Louis U—St. Louis, MO (Georgia Johnston) 1998
9.     U of Delaware—Newark, DE (Bonnie Kime Scott and Ann Ardis) 1999
10.  U of Maryland-Baltimore—Baltimore MD (Jessica Berman) 2000
11.  Bangor U—Bangor, Wales (Michael Whitworth) 2001
12.  Sonoma State U--Rohnert Park, CA (J.J. Wilson) 2002
13.  Smith College—Northampton, MA (Karen Kukil et alia) 2003
14.  U. of London—London, UK (Gina Potts and Lisa Shahriari) 2004
15.  Lewis and Clark College—Portland, OR (Rishona Zimring) 2005
16.  U of Birmingham—Birmingham, UK (Kathryn Simpson, Steve Ellis et alia) 2006
17.  Miami U, Ohio—Miami, OH (Madelyn Detloff and Diana Royer) 2007
18.  U of Denver—Denver, CO (Eleanor McNees) 2008
19.  Fordham U, Manhattan—NYC (Anne Fernald) 2009
20.  Georgetown College—Georgetown, KY (Kristin Czarnecki) 2010
21.  And U of Glasgow—Glasgow, Scotland (Jane Goldman) 2011

Thanks to Vara Neverow for posting the list on the Woolf listserv.

I've missed some of the best ones, I'm told, but what I've seen has been pretty awesome, pretty sustaining. I'm sad to have missed Glasgow this year, but I'm looking forward to Saskatoon in 2012!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two of my pieces elsewhere

In case you missed it, my letter to the NYTBR in response to a review of Harold Bloom's new book was published in this Sunday's edition.

And I have a longish blog post on rape, Clarissa, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn over at Guernica.

Please do read them, and if you're moved to comment on the Guernica piece, please do so. I'd love the editors to see that you'd been by, read, and responded...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jay-Z and Cockney Rhyming Slang

Every once in a while, I’ll be teaching and Cockney rhyming slang will come up. Can “apples and pears” really be “stairs”? Do people really say “trouble and strife” to mean “wife”? And frankly, I can’t answer. It has always seemed baffling to me, too.

Then, on my run this morning, I’m listening to Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”

If a man named Shawn Corey Carter can re-style himself as Jay-Z and then reshape that into the grandiose (and pretty terrific) god-term pun Jay-hova, and then turn it into a kind of new pig Latin and get sweet-voiced women to sing “H to the Izzo, V to the Izzay” so we all understand that this is a tribute to the greatness of that same young Shawn Carter’s rap stylings, why shouldn’t Brahms, shortened from Brahms and Lizst, mean “pissed” (as in drunk)?

The link, if you click it, has some really good examples, and, in more patient terms, shows how many such rhyming substitutions are in common use (such as 86'd for nixed).

This makes me feel much better.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Blog Post

Over at Guernica!

It's my first post there, and it's about rape in 1747 and today, about Clarissa and about Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Please do read it and leave a comment!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rio de la Plata, Uruguay

A fantasia on Uruguay from Woolf's great 1925 essay, "The Elizabethan Lumber Room":
“what if the passage to the fabled land of uncounted riches lay only a little farther up the coast? What if the known world was only the prelude to some more splendid panorama? When, after the long voyage, the ships dropped anchor in the great river of the Plate and the men went exploring through the undulating lands, startling grazing herds of deer, seeing the limbs of savages between the trees, they filled their pockets with pebbles that might be emeralds or sand that might be gold; or sometimes, rounding a headland, they saw, far off, a string of savages slowly descending to the beach bearing on their heads and linking their shoulders together with heavy burdens for the Spanish King”

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Google Coincidence

The other night, I was re-reading Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid.” A provocative and funny title for a really thoughtful piece on how our thinking may be changing—really, profoundly changing—with our increasing reliance on computers. I really love that essay for the care with which it weighs the good and the bad of Google. Carr writes: “The Web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes.” I feel that profoundly, too. Much as I love the hours and hours that I’ve logged in the stacks and in the reading rooms of great libraries, it’s exciting and a lot easier to find the stuff so fast.

I turned from Carr to Woolf, to reread her essay “The Russian Point of View.” I’m rereading The Common Reader in its entirety for my talk in Uruguay and for the Dalloway edition. As I read, I come upon one of Andrew McNeillie’s footnotes from 1984: “This reference has resisted all efforts at discovery.”

It’s a wonderful footnote and one I’ve long admired. McNeillie is a fabulous editor and, in days before Google, he tracked down dozens and dozens of allusions, translated Greek, and generally showed the seams of Woolf’s work so that scholars like me could trace her sources and hear her allusions. And, this note, to a bland quote from one of Chekhov’s over 100 stories, seems fair: it’s the only time in the whole book when McNeillie just gives up.

So, of course, I typed the phrase “such conversation as this between us would have been unthinkable for our parents” into Google. First hit? “Anton Chekhov, A Doctor’s Visit, trans. Constance Garnett”—of course, the very translation Woolf used. Second hit? Virginia Woolf,