Saturday, December 4, 2010

Critical Article Summary

Fassler, Barbara. "Theories of Homosexuality as Sources of Bloomsbury's Androgyny." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 5.2 (1979): 237

This early article explores the relationship between homosexual behavior and the concept of androgyny pertaining to the Bloomsbury group. Various theories, positive and negative, on homosexuality are listed and discussed. This is the great example of what the term “androgyny” meant in its first wave of popularity. It was trying to shrink the box that defines gender rather than multiply its meanings. First Fassler tries to challenges the idea that Ancient cultures embraced and practiced homosexual activity. She questions traditional gender roles and their origins. Plato has effect of defining sexuality of 19th-20th centuries meaning three sexes, male female and hermaphrodite. Is this one more accurate? The article also questions if sexual orientation is genetic. Many in society see homosexuality as degenerate. Members of the Bloomsbury crowd are totally open about it, however. She lists some current (at the time) scientific research into hereditarily and homosexuality. She mentions the theory that everyone is bisexual to an extent and that people contain both male and female behavior patterns. Notice this still implies that gender difference is something concrete.

The article talks about Freud and the Bloomsbury gang’s interest in his theories on homosexuality. Lytton Strachey made fun of Freudian attempts to ‘cure” gay men. It is problematic that most studies were done on men and male homosexuality. Lesbians were ignored. The feminine man is above the masculine woman in society’s hierarchy. Even in the process of expanding definition of gender, women are subjugated. Vita believed masculine and feminine parts were battling inside her. Interestingly Vita links her first sexual experience with a woman to when she wore male clothing. Discusses fusing men and women parts together to create a united whole.

Critical Article Summary

Knopp, Sherron E. "If I Saw You Would You Kiss Me?": Sapphism and the Subversiveness of Virginia Woolf's Orlando." PMLA 103.1 (1988): 24-34.
Knopp refers to Orlando as the longest love letter in history. She asserts that the physical portions of their relationship were very short-lived but very intense. She thinks it cheapens their love for each other when it is called an affair. Woolf spoke like she thought of Orlando as frivolous and almost a joke. Though, she was notoriously self-deprecating about her writing, she was especially hard on this book. People close to Woolf, including Vanessa thought the book was a way of getting over Vita. Some people liked to use the term homoemotionality to desexualize their relationship. “Critical discomfort with the novel mirrors biographical discomfort with the relationship” (25). Critics consider it to closely related to Vita's life story and an interlude between more serious works. Leonard took it more seriously than Virginia. Vita was well aware of Virginia’s madness and was afraid to arouse strong feelings because of it. “It is a fire with which I have no desire to play” 26. According to the article Virginia was very jealous of other women in Vita’s life. So she suggests this novel was to build intimacy rather than to create distance between the two. Virginia was aiming for clear mocking style language. Points out the fact that Orlando and the biographer never have a relationship—makes it less biographical. The truth in Orlando is about sapphistry. Whimsy/truth/ humor are mixed together. Fadermen (critic) uses the whimsy to hide the lesbian content. The flip “puts a strain on contemporary language) (30). Knopp also thinks this is Woolf’s public gift to Vita.

Critical Article Summary

Cervetti, Nancy. "In the Breeches, Petticoats, and Pleasures of Orlando" Journal of Modern Literature 20 (1996): 165-75.
Leonard referred to Orlando as the most successful turning point in Virginia’s career, she did not quite agree. Woolf‘s goal for this novel to tell the truth, but also to be fantastic. Woolf wrote very specific parameters for the tone of her novel. "It has to be half laughing, half serious: with great splashes of exaggeration” (2) Mentions critics usually see book as a love letter or biography. Cervetti thinks it would be productive to stop using Woolf’s personal life in critiques of Orlando. She thinks Orlando is made to be so privileged and gifted in every way because it eliminates any struggle that might detract from gender issues. Idea that sexuality and gender as constants are played with throughout the text. There is also play involving costume, the external signifier of gender. She notes that Orlando was indifferent to her new sex until she decided to sail to England. Orlando doesn’t have any identity crises due to his/her sudden change.
But as a woman she refuses to stick to a single gender prototype and the constant flux. What she wears depends on her plan or what gender suitor she is hoping for that evening. Sometimes her gender identification can switch on a dime based on how people react to her. When she is walking with Nell, Nell clings to Orlando’s arm and acts submissive and girl-ish toward him. This instantly causes him to identify herself/ himself as a male. This is an example of how clothing defines the status/ gender/ character the person wearing them. Woolf plays with this concept constantly throughout the story. Costumes have so much power as signifiers, and change the way a character is treated by others. This emphasis on the importance of and constant play with wardrobe is not just a device used with Orlando. It is also utilized with Harry/ Harriet’s character as well as with Sasha

Critical Article Summary

Visvanathan, Susan. "Women and Work: From Housewifisation to Androgyny." Economic and Political Weekly 31.45/46 (1996): 3015+.
Visvanathan describes how notions of order have defined for women and suggest the the subduing of women's nature was the greatest expression of the hierarchy of gender. She describes the way being a housewife enslaves women. Their job is to creating new members of the labor force it is marked by love and responsibility. Men control property and children while women tend to them. Their labor does not have a value in the marketplace, so they are an invisible sex. Nice quote on dichotomy, “For Rosaldo, the two extremes of this position can be seen in the witch, who sleeps with the devil, and the nun who is the bride of God”. (3018) Women are being identified with nature and became associated with animality, just as the indigenous people were in the colonies. So they must be subjugated and controlled. The androgynous Orlando represents the way the woman figure is created passively by the language of men.

Critical Article Summary

Kaivola, Karen. "Revisiting Woolf's Representations of Androgyny: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Nation." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 18.2 (1999): 235-261. MLA International Bibliography
This is a deconstructive-type criticism. The author is very enthusiastic about Orlando, she says it is “hailed by feminists as one of the most important twentieth century meditations on gender” (235). She also suggest something I hadn’t read before about Woolf’s motives, that she intends to make the reader see how they are like Orlando (236) Androgyny was in vogue in the 60’s-70’s. It was a way to escape society’s imposed gender roles of postwar. But it lost its shine with feminist critics as they started to believe it being used as a device to glaze over these gender conflicts. It began feeding into patriarchal and hetero-normative ideas. She mentions Elaine Showalter, a critic of female literature who saw Orlando as weak. She argued that Woolf's interest in androgyny was “merely an evasive fantasy” (239) Kaivola does not agree.
She discusses the cultural nervousness that existed when someone’s identity was in question. This is because it is the signifiers that define identity that define one’s place in society’s hierarchy. This was a prolific idea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She doesn’t think the androgyny concept should strictly discuss gender, believes it is more complex than that. She writes “identity is multiple, contradictory, relational, situational and fluid” (238). So to consider gender apart from other parts of identity like race is contradictory to the complicated social phenomenon. The androgen term is multifaceted. : At once it represents a hybrid ideal of both sexes; harmony between the sexes. But it can also have a repressive effect on homosexuality and embraces status quo. Kiavola calls Orlando a playful negative response to these cultural pressures to have a stable singular identity. The symbol of androgyny is used to try and overcome gender distance. But continued male dominance proves that it is impossible to transcend gender roles. Hierarchies based on difference are hard to overcome. She discusses “hybridity” a term first used in a biological context. Suggest this might be a better term and do a better job allowing tensions to exist naturally.
Sánchez-Pardo González, Esther. "'What Phantasmagoria the Mind Is”: Reading Virginia Woolf's Parody of Gender." Atlantis: Revista de la Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos 26.2 (2004): 75-86.
This article is another example of deconstructive criticism. It intends to take apart the traditional gender binary. Sanchez believes Orlando is a parody of Victorian gender stereotypes the novel was meant to be protest. She thinks Woolf creates a “genderless being” to support her desires for a utopian society with complete gender neutrality. (75). Virginia and many critics did not view Orlando as important. The book sold many copies but she was never completely happy with it. Sanchez thinks the commentary on gender and sexuality in the book pushed the envelope at that time. Quentin Bell called it Virginia’s most sexual novel.
Esther believes the serious thought behind the androgynous identity in the novel undermines some of the whimsy Woolf intended. She questions whether Orlando’s androgyny is a perfect unity of the genders, whereby they neutralize each other, or whether one of the two is dominant. She decides that one is always dominate. She believes that Orlando’s genitalia does not change so she must have been a woman or at least a womanly man to start with. Esther believes the text suggest that Orlando has been masquerading all along. She is questions which gender is the disguise. Is the androgen structure in Orlando just a point of departure for exploration of the subject in other novels? This could have been triggered by “Vita’s two- faceted masculine image” (78) Believe clothing can conceal gender, attributes the idea of masquerade being inherent to femininity to Freud. She believes this reflects the world of Elizabethan theater when men disguised themselves to play women.
She also implies that otherness in Orlando is more than just gender, it is a matter of nation and race as well. When it’s the captain’s treatment of Orlando that causes her to think about the implications of her new sex Esther believe this is an example of men defining femininity. Although the crinoline is oppressive it is a sexual symbol, we see this when the crinoline is depicted in the novel as blushing at Orlando’s husband. Love becomes androgynous with descriptions of gender shifts of Sasha and Harriet. This enigma might be a way to avoid censorship of homosexual eroticism. Woolf wants to transcend gender difference as well as mock constructions of femininity. Orlando’s eventual adherence shows it’s impossible to transcend. Androgyny does not mean just one thing its meanings are many and constantly shifting. Gender in the book is a “cultural process that must be learned.” Womanhood cannot be accurately represented as they have been excluded from discourse. Metaphor that the place of women as always been occupied by men. She suggests Woolf might mask homosexuality to represent how it has had to disguise itself through history.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Critical Article Summary

Meese, Elizabeth. "When Virginia Looked at Vita, What Did She See; Or, Lesbian: Feminist: Woman-What's the Differ(e/a)nce?." Feminist Studies 18.1 (1992): 99-117.
This article focuses on Virginia and Vita’s affair and how it was the Catalyst and shaper of the novel Orlando. Some of her sources are letters back and forth between Virginia and Vita. She refers to the novel as one long love letter. This article, like the last one relates sexual identity closely with clothing choice. She theorizes that Orlando’s duel genders might have been a way for Woolf to write about lesbians in a less radical fashion. I think the background about the affair is important because most every critique of the novel references it. If much of the gender-play is based on how androgynous Vita was, that makes it central to my argument. Also the issue of signifiers and signifier confusion is important to this article. The article suggest this with the differ(e/a)nce business.

Critical Article Summary

Burns, Christy L. "Re-Dressing Feminist Identities: Tensions between Essential and Constructed Selves in Virginia Woolf's Orlando." Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 40.3 (1994): 342-364.

Again this article describes the novel as an exploration of sexuality and its role in society. She also believes is written as a biography of Vita, Virginia Woolf's lover. Burn’s describes how Woolf plays with the concept of truth, especially concerning gender and the ability of costume to mask or distort gender. This article is pragmatic in how it describes the novel as a mirror to the reader. She writes that the oak tree is symbolism for the way Orlando’s body changes forms while he/she stays essentially the same. The Victorian era is when gender difference becomes the most obvious and oppressive. It is then that Orlando feels duty to marry as her role as a woman. She writes finally that the goal of the novel was to take biography and gender roles shake them up and spit them out, Burns believes she succeeded. I think I will use this article a lot as I find her explanation of the way Woolf plays with gender fascinating, as well as fairly easy to understand.
Okin, Susan Moller. "Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Families: Dichotomizing Differences." Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 11.1 (1996): 30-48.

This article represents a mimetic perspective. It discusses the way literature mirrors reality. According to this article, Woolf took the literary tradition of dichotomizing gender difference and turned it on its head. The author envisions a gender- free society where people are free to act as they please and wear what they please with no negative societal implications. He see’s this as very positive because dichotomy can often lead to inferiority for woman and pain for those that don’t fit neatly into gender roles. He sees Orlando as a spoof on this human tendency. Humans love to divide everything into categories. She too thought the plot was related to Vita, but not as completely as the first two articles I summarized. Clearly Orlando finds being a woman more difficult to be a woman because she cross dresses. It becomes clear that most gender difference is arbitrary. He thinks Woolf makes this clear because many times, she describes Orlando’s clothing as gender- neutral. He also writes about how strange and radical Woolf was at the time that she was published.

Critical Article Summary

Hovey, Jaime. "'Kissing a Negress in the Dark': Englishness as a Masquerade in Woolf's Orlando." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 112.3 (1997): 393-404

Jaime Hovey discusses Orlando’s gender ambivalences and their relationship to Nationalism. In this article the author writes that Orlando is roughly based on the life of Vita, Virginia’s lover. The author also writes that racial purity, as an Anglo-Saxon, is a large part of Orlando’s identity, but this signifier fades as Orlando becomes a woman. This is because although the same “racial purity” still exists it is no longer identified with the same power. She also believes that the novel is a study of white, female homosexuality. The author believes the controversy in sexuality in the novel is grounded by Orlando’s race and class standing. She also believes the tension is alleviated by the story’s many ambiguities. I think, to simplify what she is talking about is that the nitty gritty details are left out of her/his magical sex-change. Orlando goes to bed a beautiful rich man, and wakes up a beautiful woman. This removes any explicit sexuality from the text so the reader can focus on the differences between Orlando’s experience as a man and woman. Although I really enjoyed this article and found it very insightful I'm not sure it'll be much help to me as I do my project. This is simply because it focuses more on English-ness and race then gender. I might cite some small parts that talk about gender as a side issue.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Three Guineas

It is easy to draw connections between this book and A Room of One's Own. They both focus on education for women. They also both focus on economics and the importance of money if a person is to have any power. But this novel brings in the added angle of how women having a say could prevent war. Woolf puts all these arguments together so compellingly. I love the structure of the book and how she is deciding how to donate her money, since indirect actions like this, signing a check or writing letters were the only ways a woman could exert her will. While she does go on to repeat the argument I would like to do a closer reading of the first time she puts it all together on pages 16-20.

First she makes the connection between war and the economy and a woman's role (or lack there of) in both. "At any rate that method is not open to us; both the Army and Navy are closed to our sex. We are not allowed to fight. Not again are we allowed to be members of the Stock Exchange. Thus we can use neither the pressure of force or the pressure of money" (16) The issue seems to be influence, the ability to cause events to happen the way one wants them to, or to change things. Here she directs her arguement toward men as a whole. Woolf also points out that women don't have the ability to strike effectively, since a halt in thier labor would do little to the professions. They can not say they simply won't manufacture supplies for the war, because the effect would be negligible.

It is the previously help opinion that the way a woman can exert her force the most powerfully is indirect, through a man. The passage she chooses by Sir Ernest Wild is a riot. The woman is actually immensley powerful, she expresses this power by getting her husband to do whatever she wants, while at the same time, not allowing him to know that she is doing it. She restates the idea from a Room of One's Own that the most important thing a woman has gained is the ability to participate in a profession. When she is making her own money, rather than relying on the genorosity of her father or husband, she has an opportunity to be truly independant. She doesn't feel the need to charm men to earn a living, so she is free to express her opinions. It is only once she has the right to communicate her feelings that she may have any chance to prevent wars.

There are a few other parts of the book so far that I have found really interesting. I love the way she discusses the hypocrisy have how England is supposed to be about freedom and about liberty. She then questions whether a woman in England had this same experience. I also enjoy the parelels drawn between patriarchal constructions and facisim. I also found the discussion about the different purposes of clothing for men and women very funny. A woman's clothes hide her nakedness, draw attention to her beauty, and might even help her get a husband. But a man uses his clothes to advertise his achievements. He has buttons, ribbons, badges, each with a seperate meaning. "A woman who advertized her motherhood by a tuft of horse hair on her shoulder, would scarcely, you will agree, be a venerable object." (26) Tee-hee

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why have women always been so poor?

These chapters seem to be focusing mainly on the differences between the treatment of men and women in academia. When Beadle kicks her off the grass I think that is meant to be a sort of literal representation of the intellectual chasm between the two genders. Right before this occurred she was having an idea, and the incident made her lose it. So by enforcing the rule about the grass, the officer was crushing her creativity. Also she is not even allowed into the library, further emphasizing her exclusion from this world.

I think to further delineate the differences between the way the two sexes are treated, chapter one describes a meal at Oxbridge, the college for men and Fernham, the woman's college. The men have an abundance of food, pastries, and wine, while the meal at Fernham which is a shadow of that. This is symbolism to the way the poverty addled system of educating women compares to that of males, which have always been generously bankrolled. The author wonders if this might have all been different if somewhere a few generations ago women would have learned how to make money. This doesn't seem entirely fair, since women were not really allowed to have jobs, or their own livelihoods. The author acknowledges this and decides women were more likely to be treated as property than own it. This novel/ essay seems to be echoing some of the points in Orlando about the differences between the experiences of men and women. There is a culture that relies on their exclusion.

Something pattern I've noticed in the text so far is ambiguity especially when it comes to the subject of truth. The narrator says on the very first with a subject as controversial and large as this there is no easy way to come to a real conclusion. So the novel is just intending to expand on problem. Also, when the narrator introduces herself, she is ambiguous about what name she should be called. This also serves to make her sort of an "everywoman" that many can relate to. Also the book is focused on fiction, a genre with an ambiguous relationship to the truth, instead of any other literary genre. In fact I think the genre of literature is similar to the way Woolf describes her story in the first few pages, lies mixed with truth Another theme that seems almost too obvious to mention is money. More specifically, the importance of having money if one is going to be independent.

I love the part when she's looking at literature about women, and it's always written by angry men. There's something a little funny about this I think. Now, if you looked for literature about men, you certainly wouldn't find nothing, you would find a lot of books written by angry women. :) This emotion in the man's writing, she finds very distasteful and that's why her point of view in her own book is removed. We find out that this book comes after woman's suffrage. So it is set in a time where there are tons and tons of changes happening, but they are just in the infant stages. The way the author supports herself is with an inheritance from an aunt. A few years before, she would not have been allowed to inherit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mrs. Dollaway

Since I finished the first pages for my altered book I've been noticing the way Mrs. Dollaway inspires me visually. One visual element I definitely want to make use of is Big Ben, for several reasons. The novel has a very tight time line, one day, this time is very important. Also, there seems to be a fear of death motivating the characters, especially Clarissa and the passing of time represents movement towards death. I might try to incorporate the image of "leaden circle dissolving in the air" an expression that occurs several times in the novel. I think this is speaking on the permanence of time passed as well as the fleetingness of the present.

Another image that I want to work with is flowers. First of all flowers are very visually appealing and offer a lot of artistic possibilities. Flowers are an important symbol in the book. They are symbols for many different emotions and ideas. They represent Clarissa's independence because she chooses to go out and get them for herself. I think they also represent the life she has chosen, because Richard gives her roses, as opposed to the life she would have had with Peter.

I might dedicate another page to the old women who lives in the house across from Clarissa. The old woman represents loneliness in the novel, specifically the lonliness that comes from growing old. Conversely Clarissa see's some beauty in the privacy and lack of communication in the woman's life. She is free of anyone who might oppress her. Clarissa see's herself and a possible future of isolation in the old woman.

I think the idea of loneliness is also rendered visibly to the ocean. Characters seem to be often feeling as though they are drowning, or that there are lost at sea. I might make my ocean page from Jacob's Room a spread. This makes sense the element because of water stands for a similar kind of melancholy in that novel. The ocean also seems to be connected to Septimus and his suicide. Clarissa seems to veiw his death as a positive act, she's glad he did it.

Another thing I was thinking about, although I'm not sure how I would portray it's visual is Septimus's depression as a reflections of Woolf's mental ailment. I also wonder if his suicide in the book is a grim foreshadowing of her own suicide. I feel that it at least is indicative of her feeling toward suicide as being a possible escape, rather than tragedy. It is especially an escape if one is as mentally tormented as Woolf or Septimus. The way that Clarissa reacts to his death, and see's herself reflected in it, may be a stand in for Virginia herself. "She felt somehow very like him—the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away"(115)

Another important theme in the book is love that cannot be acted upon. Of course there is Peter and Clarissa. Since she rejected him, they both still think about on another. Part of Clarissa's depressive thoughts are related to wondering what her life with Peter would have been like. Then there is Clarissa's romantic relationship with Sally. They had one kiss which was the peak in Clarissa's life. They can never be together because of the restraints of traditional society.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Critical Ariticle Analysis

Woolf’s Angel and the Demon Reader
Oren Goldschmidt

This article focuses on the roles of women in Virginia Woolf writing, more specifically how she negotiates complex and evolving aspects of femininity. She's is dealing with the 19th century Victorian attitude of oppression of the woman. Yet she doesn't want to rid herself of these vestiges entirely, she calls these values "an inheritance that can be useful to modernity in many ways." (215) It must have been a struggle because the Victorian woman seems to be of no substance by herself, she is judged by her relationships. Her relationship with her husband and thus with the home and domestic duty. Her existence is also based on her social connections.

In the portrayal of women, Woolf was forced to walk the line between breaking the norms and confirming them.The author claims that Woolf repeatedly uses a "hostess" character to simultaneously display these roles and to "reclaim feminine creative power." 216 This dualism in the works of Virginia's Woolf is the main idea of the text. I don't think I've read enough criticism to know what critical crux this article fits into, I would imagine there's a large body of work about women in Woolf's work and how she translates her past with repressive Victorian values.

This article was written on June 9, 2010, so it is very recent. While the article provides fascinating insight on the complex language used to portray femininity it does not claim to invent anything new. The text doesn't focus on any text in particular, but it does shed light on the challenges Woolf dealt with while trying to make her way to modernity. It is partially a response to a book written about Woolf and domesticity. While this article was interesting, I would not say it is necessary.

Goldschmidt, Oren. "Woolf's Angel and the Demon Reader." Women 21.2 (2010): 214-216. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 14 Sept. 2010.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Fundamenatal Shift in the way Fiction is Produced

Woolf chronicles this shift in "Mr Bennett and Mrs. Brown". It was written in response to an article by Mr. Bennett, where he criticized her portrayal of characters in Jacob's Room. The shift has to do with the author's relationship to the character, as well as the reader's relationship with the work. It is established power dynamics turned on their heads. a She gives a very specific date when this change occurred. December 10, 1919. She writes that everyone has an innate wisdom about character, but writers have particular interest in it.

Woolf uses an anecdote to illustrate her point about the change in fiction writing. The story begins when she interrupts a conversation in a train care between two people, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Brown. Woolf instantly finds Mrs. Brown intriguing, indeed she says each of her novels start with a proverbial old lady sitting in the corner. Mr Smith seems to be threatening Mrs. Brown. Woolf instantly imagines all sorts of stories about the woman in all sorts of situation. She imagines what Mrs. Brown's children do, how Mrs. Brown relates to her husband. But the way one see's Mrs. Brown is subjective. It hinges on such variables as age, country , and temperament of the writer, as well as the audience. So who is to say what type of portrayal is real?

Differences in how Mrs. Brown is translated on paper are what differentiate the Edwardian's and the Georgians. Mr. Bennett insists that characters much be real, or a novel is doomed from the start. This he states is what's missing from the writing of the young Georgians. But Woolf insists that something is missing from the Edwardian's writing, humanity. To describe Mrs. Brown the would tell the reader about her clothes, the railway car, and the death of her mother. The novel would create a structure in-which the reader is meant to deduce who exactly the character is. Mr. Bennet doesn't see Mrs. Brown.

Neither though, is the writing of the Edwardian's perfect. She writes that there is a meloncholy about it compared with works that came before. It suffers without a definite code on how it is supposed to interact with the reader. In reaction to the complicated etiquette in the works of the previous generations, writers break the rules. Woolf does not like it when rules are flamboyantly broken. She comments on the indecency of a man who feel "he must break the windows to breath. (209) If it takes too much effort to get to the truth about Mrs.Brown then it is no longer the truth. In conclusion she writes that this shift in literature hedges on being attentive to characters and never abandoning Mrs. Brown.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Notes on the First Half of "Jacob's Room"

The first half of this story left me with more questions and confusion than conclusions. I found the text hard to follow. One issue was in the beginning of the book, while Jacob was a child almost every character is referred to as Mr. and Mrs., this makes it very difficult to keep track of them. This gripe actually brings up another issue, the sheer amount of characters, with the exception of Jacob and Tim it is rare that we follow one for more than a page or two. Thirdly, the sudden shifts in setting and character focus throw me off. For example in chapter three, I was almost finished before I figured out that they were actually on a boat, not on the shore looking at the ocean, or in a dorm room talking and thinking about boats. Then by the time I figured that out Jacob was putting on his dinner jacket to eat with the Durrants.

Despite the confusing aspects though, some themes or motifs do seem to be emerging. One is of the sun, the text is littered with descriptions of sunlight. Whether it is the particular colors of the light or a setting sun. I'm not sure if certain sunlight conditions tend to go with particular events or moods in the story, but it is something I will be keeping an eye on. Another motif I saw is the ocean representing melancholy or sadness. There were also a lot of mentions of Shakespeare with the discussion of ocean water, I'm not sure how the go together though.

One more thing a noticed was a slight alluding to affairs between certain characters. First between Mrs. Flanders and Captain Barfoot. I only got this idea because the text suggest that Mrs Barfoot did not like that her husband was visiting Mrs. Flanders to say goodbye. "Mrs Barfoot knew that Captain Barfoot was on his way to Mrs Flanders."(17) If it were "Flanders'" that would suggest that he was visiting the woman's home, not the woman herself. To me this suggest a romantic relationship. The second instance of the is between Jacob and the mother of his friend Tim "thinking of Jacob, thinking he must not say that he loves her, no no no."(46) I could be way off base, that's just the idea I gathered from the text.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Notes on A Sketch of the Past

A Sketch of the Past illuminated the early years of Virginia Woolf. She describes the people and places that make up her young life. Talland House is one of the places she spends a lot of time, actually she only spent a month and a half out of the year there. Nevertheless, it made up a significant part of her memoir. Virginia may feel so connected to the house because it was purchased just before she was born. It is the place associated with two of her most negative early memories. First when her brother, Gerarld Duckworth, molested her. She does not reveal exactly how old she was at the time, she just writes that she was very small. Woolf hints that this might have something to do with her "looking glass shame." (9) She also suggest it might have something to do with her puritan inheritance. It is obviously a detriment in her life because it causes everything that has to do with dress to make her nervous. Also, because of this shame, she can only appreciate beauty outside herself. Another of Virginia's negative memories if of a suicide she heard about. An apple tree she passes reminds her of it. She discusses why certain things may get remembered, while others simply fade away. She also writes about what makes a memory positive or negative. She decides it is whether she felt powerless or conscious in the situation.

Virginia's mother was a very important person in her life. Even after she died when Virginia was thirteen, she continued to be an invisible presence in her daughter's life/ (14) Virginia stated that both Talland House and Hyde Gate were full of her. Virginia's mother was also the force that kept the family together. After her death, parties and merriment ceased. A figure closely associated with Virginia's mother is Stella. She says they were like the sun and the moon. Virginia describes her older sister as quiet, as well as modest and charming. Stella died shortly after her wedding. For her widowed husband Jack a skeleton tree became the symbol of his immense grief. This speaks to the suicide apple tree and begins to form a motif where tree's represent death.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

First Blog Post: Woolf Pack

I'm Lindsay Swan. I'm a senior this year. I'm an English major with Journalism minor. My passions are reading, writing, and art. I love my dogs and my cat Sgt Pepper. I'm taking this course mostly because it is a requirement for my major. Regardless of that though, I have an interest in feminist literature. I'm excited to become familiar with Woolf's life and works. I don't know much of anything about Virginia Woolf so I'm sure I will learn a ton in this class.