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Random Thoughts on The Voyage Out (Part Two of Two)

I have struggled with what to say about The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf, which is perhaps fitting for a novel about Things People Don’t Say. The novel is fairly bursting with ideas and observations. It is nearly impossible to find the right umbrella under which to discuss them all. I can’t seem to come to any comprehensive theories or conclusions about the novel as a whole. Reading other #Woolfalong reviews of The Voyage Out showed me that other reviewers found the novel as difficult to write about as I did. Their efforts convinced me to try again to write about this book.

Rather than attempt to argue some all-encompassing thesis, I will follow the lead of some of the #Woolfalong reviewers and simply (at long last) offer a random sampling of some of the items I most wish to discuss.

 

HALT! Spoilers Ahead. If you haven’t read The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf and don’t wish to be spoiled, please turn back now (but please come back after you’ve read it). If you can’t resist, proceed at your own risk.

 

Sappho’s Cameo Appearance. One of my absolute favorite passages in The Voyage Out was when Mrs. Flushing caught St. John Hirst reading Swinburne’s translation of Sappho’s poetry during the Anglican service at the hotel chapel. I smiled at the coincidence of meeting Sappho again in a different book so soon after studying her poetry myself. I loved Mrs. Flushing’s reaction when Hirst holds out his book for her:

Mrs. Flushing could not resist such an opportunity. She gulped down the Ode to Aphrodite during the Litany, keeping herself with difficulty from asking when Sappho lived, and what else she wrote worth reading, and contriving to come in punctually at the end with “the forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection and the body, and the life everlastin’. Amen.” (p. 239)

Mrs. Flushing is fortunate they were in church or she might never have escaped being ordered to read Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Jane Austen’s Influence. The first hint of Jane Austen’s influence in this novel is Clarissa Dalloway’s copy of Persuasion, which she was reading during her trip and recommended to Rachel.

Then there is Susan Warrington. Susan resembles nothing so much as the precariously placed genteel poor secondary characters in a Jane Austen novel. When she first appeared in the novel, she was traveling as the companion of a wealthy elderly relative and was dependent upon her charity. Arthur’s proposal presented Susan with the prospect of a home of her own. Susan is no Charlotte Lucas, though. Arthur and Susan were genuinely in love with each other. She happily accepted his proposal. Ms. Woolf, however, did not shy away from the fact that Susan’s joy was mixed with a certain relief and a certain gratitude to Arthur for providing an escape from servitude to her petulant aunt.

Mrs. Flushing seemed to me to be a modern, slightly more vulgar version of Mrs. Jennings from Sense and Sensibility. I could also see a strong parallel between Rachel Vinrace and Marianne Dashwood, each so convinced of her superior sensibility to that of everyone around her.

Marriage and the Modern Young Woman. One thing surprised me a bit about this novel. In time when marriage was still practically compulsory for women and in a culture that did and still does present women as eager to the point of desperation for marriage, two of Ms. Woolf’s eligible young women were positively riddled with ambivalence. Only Susan Warrington was entirely enthusiastic about the prospect of marriage. By contrast, both Rachel and Evelyn were nearly paralyzed with ambivalence about marriage.

Within the novel, there is talk about the new opportunities for women that opened up as a result of the war and of the woman suffrage movement. These new opportunities meant that young women like Evelyn and Rachel had more options for what to do with their lives and both characters seemed eager to seize the chance for a larger life. This desire for a larger life also seemed to drive their ambivalence toward marriage, as if they were not quite able to work out how to reconcile marriage with these wider opportunities.

Evelyn’s Response. Here is Evelyn’s reaction to the engagements of both Susan and Rachel in The Voyage Out:

Love was all very well, and those snug domestic houses, with the kitchen below and the nursery above, which were so secluded and self-contained, like little islands in the torrents of the world; but the real things were surely the things that happened, the causes, the wars, the ideals, which happened in the great world outside, and went on independently of these women, turning so quietly and beautifully towards the men. She looked at them sharply. Of course they were happy and content, but there must be better things than that. Surely one could get nearer to life, one could get more out of life, one could enjoy more and feel more than they would ever do. (p. 332-333)

I believe this passage does double duty for Ms. Woolf. It is obviously an expression of Evelyn’s ambivalence about marriage. In the novel, Evelyn wrestled with how to make a meaningful life for herself and what that would entail and these reflections are certainly part of that. It also is an expression of the arguments often made against Ms. Woolf’s novels and against women’s writing in general: that domestic themes are not important enough to be worthy of great literature. Hewet has served as the voice of Ms. Woolf’s side of the argument and now Evelyn serves as the voice of Ms. Woolf’s critics. I found that interesting, too, the way that Ms. Woolf granted the traditionally female view to a male character and vice versa.

Rachel’s Many Voyages. The Voyage Out is made up of many voyages for Rachel: the sea voyage out to South America, the voyage out to the mountain picnic, the river voyage out to the small village, Rachel’s voyage out into society, and Rachel’s voyage into maturity. One of my favorite moments in the novel is when Rachel finally has a major breakthrough in the way she views others. In the beginning, Rachel is convinced that

Reality dwelling in what one saw and felt but did not talk about, one could accept a system in which things went round and round quite satisfactorily to other people, without troubling to think about it, except as something superficially strange. (p. 30)

For most of the novel, Rachel believes she is the only one with any true feeling or grasp of life and that her experiences and perceptions are superior to that of others.

That any one of these people had ever felt what she felt, or ever could feel it, or had even the right to pretend for a single second that they were capable of feeling it, appalled her … (p.306)

But near the end of the novel, she realizes

…Perhaps, then everyone really knew as she knew now where they were going; and things formed themselves into a pattern not only for her, but for them, and in that pattern lay satisfaction and meaning. (p. 326)

Rachel’s Death. Then she inexplicably fell ill and soon died.

I say inexplicably because I cannot figure out why Ms. Woolf made this narrative choice. I have read several other reviews and no one else seems able to make much sense of it either. The most obvious answer is that this was Rachel’s final voyage, the voyage out of life, but that seems insufficient.

Rachel’s illness strongly reminds me of the near-fatal illness of Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. The difference, of course, is that Marianne Dashwood recovered and dutifully married the worthy (if uninspiring to Marianne) Colonel Brandon. Rachel did not.

My tentative theory is that Rachel’s ambivalence toward marrying Hewet was so profound that she fell ill and died to escape it. There is plenty of evidence in Hewet’s behavior as a fiancé to suggest that the marriage would be confining rather than liberating for Rachel. He was bossing her around, deliberately interrupting her while she was playing piano, criticizing her musical selections, and complaining when her thoughts didn’t revolve around him. Despite his professed feminist views, Hewet started acting like a domineering husband almost immediately after Rachel accepted his proposal. Despite that, Rachel’s ambivalence seemed to be mostly about wanting a larger life than the marriage she was planning with Hewet.

That’s just a possibility, though. I am still not sure exactly why Rachel died at the end of the book or why Ms. Woolf made this choice for the character.

A Glaring Omission. Finally, I’d like to discuss a glaring omission in The Voyage Out. This novel takes place in the fictional city of Santa Marina in an unspecified country in South America, yet the only South American characters are background functional characters (hotel manager and staff, servants, boat crew, etc.) Dr. Rodriguez is the only South American character to figure significantly in the novel.

My point is not to berate Ms. Woolf unfairly. She was writing about a group of mostly English vacationers. She did an excellent job of portraying the attitudes and prejudices of these characters towards the Santa Marina inhabitants in ways which were not always flattering to the English characters. The most obvious example is the way that the English characters immediately distrusted Dr. Rodriguez to the point of speculating that he was just a quack whom the hotel manager passed off as a doctor because they were relatives. Then the English characters instinctively trusted that the French doctor was the real deal as if there were no quacks in Europe. They considered him a superior doctor despite the fact that Rachel’s health continued to deteriorate under his care.

What is missing is any sense of the perspective of the Santa Marina characters. This might be understandable in a different type of novel or from a different type of novelist. Ms. Woolf specialized in taking us into the thoughts, observations, and reflections of even minor characters. So the fact that Ms. Woolf never gave us a single insight into Dr. Rodriguez’s perspective on Rachel’s illness, his situation, or the obvious attitudes of the other characters is a glaring oversight on the writer’s part. The closest we ever get to a Santa Marina citizen’s view is when the river boat crewmen cracked a joke in Spanish about the inappropriate clothing of the English travelers. This was disappointing.

 

Overall I found The Voyage Out to be a fascinating exploration of a variety of ideas. It would be very easy to write a dozen posts of highlights like this and not really scratch the surface of all the approaches one could take to discussing this novel. It is an impressive first novel by a first-rate writer.

 

Postscript. I will skip the biography section due to obvious time constraints but will rejoin #Woolfalong for the September/October stage with discussions of A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas, two of my favorite books by Ms. Woolf.

Pleasures and Perils of Imagination

One scorching day in July, Ms. Arachne shot a despairing glance at the open copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House and Other Stories on her navy blue lacquered desk with the now-dull brass fittings. “Late again,” she murmured with a sigh. Ms. Arachne enjoyed Ms. Woolf’s fiction, so why did she find it so difficult to write about it?

Maybe it is because the main character in most of the stories isn’t a character at all, she thought. No, the main character was usually the thoughts, the reveries, the philosophizing, or the flights of fancy in the mind of one or more of the characters. The human characters usually played supporting roles in a plot that had more to do with the trajectory of the character’s train of thought than with any overt external action.

A slight movement in her periphery caught Ms. Arachne’s eye. She looked out the window at the neighbor’s miraculously still-verdant maple tree, the broad leaves barely stirring in a whisper of breeze. The very greenness of the leaves stood in defiance of the sweltering afternoon heat. This put Ms. Arachne in mind of a passage from “Kew Gardens.”

How hot it was! So hot that even the thrush chose to hop, like a mechanical bird, in the shadow of the flowers, with long pauses between one movement and the next; instead of rambling vaguely the white butterflies danced one above another, making with their white shifting flakes the outline of a shattered marble column above the tallest flowers; the glass roofs of the palm house shone as if a whole market of shiny green umbrellas had opened in the sun; and in the drone of the aeroplane the voice of the summer sky murmured its fierce soul. (p.35)

One thing I like about Ms. Woolf’s approach to stream-of-consciousness writing is the way she provides a thread to follow through the rising, eddying, and ebbing tides of the narrative, thought Ms. Arachne. In this case, the thread is the painstaking progress of a snail’s journey through the public garden in which blades of grass, stones, birds, and the human visitors appear as obstacles to its progress. The narrator may be omniscient, thought Ms. Arachne, but the viewpoint is that of the snail. It is as if the snail is eavesdropping on the couples, friends, and family members who impede the snail’s progress when they stop to admire the plants, get lost in their thoughts, and chat briefly before whisking away without even noticing the poor snail and its struggles.

Ms. Arachne stirred from her reverie and started to rifle through her notes. For once her tardiness was a boon. A few days ago, @woolfwriter at Blogging Woolf posted a link to an online article on the Kew Gardens blog about Vanessa Bell’s cover and interior illustrations to the Hogarth Press publications of the story “Kew Gardens” and a new edition of the story illustrated by artist Livi Mills with accompanying photographs of the illustrations. Ms. Arachne made a note to share the link with the other Common Readers.

Feeling restless, Ms. Arachne got up and turned on the stereo to listen to some music. She sat back and closed her eyes. She found herself thinking of “The String Quartet” and how Ms. Woolf perfectly captured the hustle and bustle of distracted social chat and fussing before a concert until the music begins:

…the first violin counts one, two, three —

Flourish, spring, burgeon, burst! The pear tree on the top of the mountain. Fountains jet, drops descend. But the waters of the Rhone flow swift and deep, race under the arches, and sweep the trailing water leaves, washing shadows over the silver fish, the spotted fish rushed down by the swift waters, now swept into an eddy where — it’s difficult this — conglomeration of fish all in a pool; leaping, splashing, scraping sharp fins; and such a boil of current that the yellow pebbles are churned round and round, round and round — free now, rushing, downwards, or even somehow ascending in exquisite spiral into the air; curled like thin shavings from under a plane; up and up … (p. 23–24)

And then

…Falling. Ah, but they cease. One rose leaf, falling from an enormous height, like a little parachute dropped from an invisible balloon, turns, flutters waveringly. It won’t reach us.

“No, no. I noticed nothing. That’s the worst of music—these silly dreams. The second violin was late, you say?” (p.25)

Ms. Arachne smiled to herself. This was exactly how she experienced listening to instrumental music, hearing stories in the music that were probably never intended by the composer. Her friends found it bizarre when she tried to describe it. She had genuinely believed that she was the only one who experienced music this way until she read “The String Quartet.”

This won’t do at all, she thought with a shake of her head. What one wants is to write an assessment of this entire collection, not to drift off into daydreams all afternoon. That may be what one wants, thought Ms. Arachne, but one probably won’t get it here. The best I can offer is my varied impressions of these stories.

“Monday or Tuesday” is the perfect distillation of Ms. Woolf’s project as a writer and for this collection. Throughout the story is the writer’s search for truth amid all the concrete details and hustling activity outside the narrator’s window. “From ivory depths words rising shed their blackness, blossom and penetrate” describes perfectly for me the way reading a book gives way to vivid images. “But truth?” the writer asks or are these descriptions and imaginings merely “content with closeness?” (p. 7)

Which gets us closer to the essential truth of a person, a situation, or a relationship: factual reality or poetic imagination? Virginia Woolf deftly explored the tension between the two as well as the many other pleasures and perils of an active imagination with both humorous and tragic results in the short stories collected in A Haunted House and Other Stories.

Leonard Woolf complied A Haunted House and Other Stories after Virginia Woolf’s death. He put together six of the stories in Monday or Tuesday, seven stories previously published in magazines, and five unpublished and unfinished stories. The common thread connecting them all is the power of the imagination in all its facets from harmless flights of fancy to all-consuming obsessions.

HALT! Spoilers Ahead. If you haven’t read A Haunted House and Other Stories by Virginia Woolf yet and don’t wish to be spoiled, please turn back now (but please come back after you’ve read it). If you can’t resist, proceed at your own risk.

The most pleasurable surprise of this collection is the title story, which describes the most unusual haunted house in literary history. This house is no “Amityville Horror” filled with vengeful ghosts determined to drive out intruders. Instead, the house is haunted by the happiness of the love-filled lives of the previous occupants.

Another pleasure of the collection for Ms. Woolf’s fans is Dalloway-spotting. Four of these stories take place at Dalloway parties. While neither character plays a significant role in any of the stories, they do make cameo appearances in three of the stories. Clarissa briefly appears in “The New Dress” and makes introductions in “Together and Apart.” Richard issues an invitation and later introduces guests in “The Man Who Loved His Kind.” In these stories, Ms. Woolf brilliantly captures the awkwardness and anxieties of party guests eager to make a good impression while desperately trying to make conversation with strangers with varying degrees of success.

Among the perils of the imagination is the temptation to entirely retreat from the world around one, a peril that is explored to tragic effect in “Solid Objects” in which a man’s imaginative engagement in the secret life of objects turns into an obsession that alienates him from his friends and destroys his career. “Solid Objects” also serves as a cautionary corollary to stories such as “The Mark on the Wall” or “The Searchlight” or “An Unwritten Novel.”

The best stories all contain a tug-of-war between poetic imagination and factual reality in the search for essential truth.  My favorites tend to be the stories in which poetic imagination appears to win out.

For example, “Moments of Being” explores the power of imaginative empathy to connect people. As Fanny Wilmot searches for a dropped pin, her speculations lead her to see her piano teacher not as a pathetic, impoverished spinster but as an independent woman “obstinately adhering, whatever people might say, in choosing her pleasures for herself. She saw Julia—” (p. 111) The moment ends in a surprising embrace.

And a chance remark about Canterbury sparks a fleeting connection between Miss Anning and Mr. Serle in “Together and Apart.”

Their eyes met; collided rather for each felt behind the eyes the secluded being, who sits in darkness while his agile companion does all the tumbling and beckoning, and keeps the show going, suddenly stood erect; flung off his cloak; confronted the other. It was alarming; it was terrific. (p. 141)

However, the poetic imagination also has the potential to lead us astray, which Ms. Woolf explores in more than one story in this collection.

“The Mark on the Wall” presents rather harmless flights of fancy and speculation that are abruptly and comically punctured by a quick observation. This puncturing of fantasy (and often of vanity as well) by a bracing dose of factual reality is a recurring theme in the stories. It plays to comic effect in stories such as “An Unwritten Novel” in which the narrator’s attempts to create a novel about a stranger on the train are repeatedly confounded by the actions and interactions of the stranger and other passengers. It plays to a more tragic effect in stories such as “The New Dress” and “The Lady in the Looking Glass.”

Mabel in “The New Dress” learns that what makes someone ridiculous is the precise distance between how we see ourselves and how others see us. Mabel sees her new dress as feminine in a charmingly vintage style until she sees herself in the mirror at Mrs. Dalloway’s party. Seen through the eyes of others, the dress is merely unflattering and hopelessly unfashionable. The dress symbolizes Mabel’s inner struggle over the value of the illusory glamorous life she wishes for and the good but mundane life she actually has.

It is easy to get caught up in the pleasure of the vivid, even exuberant, descriptions but there is also an uneasy sense of cynicism in these stories. At first poetic imagination makes factual reality seem lackluster in comparison, but eventually factual reality becomes literally dis-illusioning in these stories and poetic truth seems merely delusional.

In “The Looking Glass,” a waiting visitor gazes around the room at the exotic objects collected by his rich unmarried hostess and imagines her as a glamorous world traveler receiving letters from many far-flung friends and former lovers. Then, as the hostess comes into the house, the visitor concludes,

Here was the woman herself. She stood naked in that pitiless light. And there was nothing. Isabella was perfectly empty. She had no thoughts. She had no friends. She cared for nobody. As for her letters, they were all bills. Look, as she stood there, old and angular, veined and lined, with her high nose and her wrinkled neck, she did not even trouble to open them” (p. 93)

The consequences of getting it wrong in “Lappin and Lapinova” reminded me of the epiphany in “The Hand” by Colette. In both stories, a young bride on her honeymoon suddenly suspects that she has made a terrible mistake. An opportune nose twitch allows Rosalind to imagine her new husband Ernest (a name she dislikes) as a hunting rabbit named King Lappin and herself as a magical silver hare named Queen Lapinova. Rosalind believes these characters get at the poetic truth of who they are and Ernest indulges her belief for a time. Finally, though, Ernest cruelly asserts the factual reality of who he is that Rosalind wished to avoid. Ms. Woolf ends the story with a flippant “So that was the end of that marriage.” (p.78)

Perhaps the most ironic and cynical take on this tension is in “The Man Who Loved His Kind” in which a man and a woman thrown together at a Dalloway party make small talk that inadvertently reveals their prejudices and exposes the self-serving motives behind his noble deeds and her ineffectual sympathies, forcing both to realize that they are not exactly the person they imagine themselves to be.

Finally, the poetic imagination is rejected in favor of factual reality in “A Summing Up.”

She looked at the dry, thick Queen Anne House; she did her best to remember what she had read at school about the Isle of Thorney and men in coracles, oysters, and wild duck and mists, but it seemed to her a logical affair of drains and carpenters, and this party —nothing but people in evening dress. (p. 174)

A lingering sense of disillusionment made me struggle with how to write about A Haunted House and Other Stories. That is probably just down to my temperament, though, and others may feel differently. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this worthy collection and heartily recommend it to you, dear Common Readers.

The Voyage Out and Woolf’s Future Works (Part One)

HALT! Spoilers Ahead. If you haven’t read The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf and don’t wish to be spoiled, please turn back now (but please come back after you’ve read it). If you can’t resist, proceed at your own risk.

 

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf is a virtual parade of books. The characters are recommending, lending, borrowing, writing, and reading — or not reading — books. (This is not surprising coming from a great reader like Ms. Woolf particularly since this was her first novel. Notice the same focus on books and reading in Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s first novel.) So I will use books to order my rambling thoughts on The Voyage Out.

The thing that struck me most about The Voyage Out was that the seeds of several of Ms. Woolf’s future works are present here in her first novel.

 

Three Guineas

When Hewet ridicules men’s professions and “…offices and a title and lots of letters after his name and bits of ribbon and degrees” (p. 217), it reminds me that later Ms. Woolf — at greater length and for a greater purpose — advised women to avoid those very trappings (the uniforms, medals, plaques, and awards of military and professional men) in Three Guineas.

 

A Room of One’s Own

Terence Hewet, with his seven hundred a year and an ambition to write fiction, inescapably brings to mind A Room of One’s Own. Though male, Hewet is otherwise an obvious precursor to Mary Carmichael, the fictional embodiment of Ms. Woolf’s notion of what women require in order to write fiction.

In her first novel, Ms. Woolf chose Hewet to express many of the theories about women and their place in society that she later explores in greater depth in A Room of One’s Own. Hewet’s remark that women see men “…as three times as big as we are or they’d never obey us” (p. 216) later becomes the famous

Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. (A Room of One’s One, p. 35)

Hewet’s version depicts women as foolish and subservient and therefore incapable of achieving equality with men even if given the appropriate opportunities (pgs. 216–217). I think this is a matter of characterization rather than Ms. Woolf’s own opinion. Years later when Ms. Woolf explores the notion in her book-length essay, she attributes this reflection to a male demand, observing that, like her fictional professor, many men become outraged when a women fails to reflect back to a man an idealized image of his imagined superiority (A Room of One’s Own, pgs. 34–36).

As an essayist and novelist, Ms. Woolf was interested in rectifying the absence of women’s accounts of their own experiences written in their own voices in fiction, history, and the Western literary tradition. In a fitting dramatization of her point, Ms. Woolf shows Hewet lecturing a silent Rachel about how for ages men have written about and discussed women but that there are few such accounts written by women themselves. He goes on to explain his interest in reading accounts by women about how women experience the world (p. 221–222). To be fair, though, Hewet did use the earlier lecture to draw Rachel out about her own life and those of her aunts. When Rachel worried aloud that it was boring, Hewet assured her that he was interested that that this was exactly the kind of thing he wanted to write about in his novels. But then in a later conversation, Hewet not only repeatedly interrupts Rachel while she’s playing piano to expound on his theories about women, he flatly contradicts Rachel’s account of her early feelings about him and insists — over her vocal objections — that she felt differently (p.301–306). In a way, most of the conversational conflicts between Rachel and Hewet can be seen as a metaphorical dramatization of the difficulties women often faced in asserting the validity of their own views and experiences.

 

Mrs. Dalloway

Hewet serves as a mouthpiece for Ms. Woolf’s entire endeavor as a fiction writer when he explains that he wishes to write about the daily lives of ordinary people and “Silence or The Things People Don’t Say.” Ms. Woolf did exactly that in her novels, which brings me to the first appearances of Clarissa and Richard Dalloway who later become the main characters of Mrs. Dalloway.

I first read Mrs. Dalloway years ago at university. I was surprised to see Clarissa and Richard Dalloway appear as minor characters in The Voyage Out. It makes me want to re-read Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa is depicted as a frivolous, pretentious society woman here, but I think she seemed more sympathetic in Mrs. Dalloway. Richard, however, is the same pompous stuffed shirt here as he was in the later novel. I don’t remember Richard seeming as creepy in Mrs. Dalloway as he did when he was sexually pursuing Rachel in The Voyage Out, though.

 

It’s clear from this first novel that Ms. Woolf was already thinking about the characters, style, and themes that would bear fruit decades later in three of her major works: Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One’s Own, and Three Guineas. Because I read the major works first, reading The Voyage Out gave me an unexpected glimpse at the first glimmers of Ms. Woolf’s most important themes and ideas. That was just one of the novel’s many pleasant surprises for me.

A Tale of Two Voyages

Sorry for the delay. I’ll post my first piece on The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf later today once I finish proofreading it. Books are my guide on my first voyage through the novel. This first post is long and yet I still didn’t get to some important issues in the novel so I am writing a second post about it.

My second post is a voyage through Things People Don’t Say in the novel. This post also serves as a transition to our discussion of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works.

Thank you for your patience.

Coming Attractions

Dear Common Readers,

Life has been a bit pressing lately and I’ve fallen behind on my writing.  Here’s what I have planned for the days and weeks ahead:

 

Writing

  • A stream-of-consciousness post about The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf. A long-overdue post for the March/April section of heavenali’s #Woolfalong.
  • A post about Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works translated by Edith Grossman. I’m halfway through the book!
  • A post on women writers as cautionary tales. This was inspired by Julia Alvarez’s introduction to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works.
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Read-Along Check-In post (June 3)
  • Check-in post for “Let’s Write Like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.” I may write two check-in posts: a poem and a Respuesta. (June 6)
  • A post on silence and women’s writing. This was also inspired by one of Julia Alvarez’s remarks in her introduction to the Selected Works but it will require a bit of further reading.
  • A belated Extra Treat post related to Sappho. I stumbled onto this book after I finished writing about Sappho’s poetry.
  • An Extra Treat post related to Sor Juana’s work.

 

Reading

  • The Rover by Aphra Behn for the Women’s Classic Literature Event. She is a Restoration playwright whose works have been on my To Read list for far too long. Aphra Behn was the first English woman to earn a living as a writer.
  • A Haunted House and Other Stories by Virginia Woolf for the May/June section of heavenali’s #Woolfalong. I have until the end of June to read and write about the stories so I’m hopeful that I can hit the deadline this time.

 

Whew! That’s more than enough to keep me busy for a while. What do you plan to read and write about in the next few weeks?

 

Your sister reader,
Ms. Arachne