An essay published in The New Yorker
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Virginia Woolf, née Stephen
by Vanessa Bell (1912)

The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think,” Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal on January 18, 1915, when she was almost thirty-three years old and the First World War was beginning to turn into catastrophic slaughter on an unprecedented scale that would continue for years. Belgium was occupied, the continent was at war, many of the European nations were also invading other places around the world, the Panama Canal had just opened, the U.S. economy was in terrible shape, twenty-nine thousand people had just died in an Italian earthquake, Zeppelins were about to attack Great Yarmouth, launching the age of aerial bombing against civilians, and the Germans were just weeks away from using poison gas for the first time on the Western Front. Woolf, however, might have been writing about her own future rather than the world’s. [Read More]

 

This concert explores the music behind Virginia Woolf’s fifth novel and recent compositions that respond to her work. The inaugural concert of a series on Woolf, Bloomsbury and music, it intertwines readings with Scottish folk song and compositions for voice and piano by composers including Benjamin Britten, Thea Musgrave, Judith Weir and David Knotts. The concert is preceded by a free talk, and there is a small exhibition in the Byre Theatre to accompany it. A free symposium will be held the preceding afternoon, with papers and discussion by Woolf scholars and musicians: contact lmg3@st-andrews.ac.uk for details. [Read More]

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Why read a ‘difficult’ book?
Emily Temple (Flavorwire) has compiled a list of ’50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers’. Their toughness varies from the sheer bulk of the volume (eg. Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Stein’s The Making of Americans), to their stylistic virtuosity (Finnegans Wake, anyone?). But despite their daunting reputations, there can be something special about reading a ‘difficult’ book.

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