Woolf Whistle

70 years ago today, Virginia Woolf wrote to her beloved husband, Leonard:

Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer.

Rather than find herself hospitalized again to take yet another rest cure, she filled her pockets with stones and walked into the River Ouse, near her home in Sussex. She was 59 years old. And while there are any number of esoteric links I could search out and post here in honor of Ms. Woolf, I don’t think I can do much better than the folks behind Hearts Asunder,

a collaborative writing project feting the awesomeness of Virginia Woolf’s work on the 70th anniversary of her death (March 28, 1941). It’s a series of blog posts smashing ideas from her writing against items from today’s pop culture to help yank her charm and relevance into the 21st century. You’ll notice these posts are alternately sincere and sarcastic. That’s just our way of paying homage to both Woolf’s gravity AND her oft-forgotten sense of humor.

They’re not kidding about that pop culture business. Interspersed with literary arcana and passages from her writing, you’ll find Lindsay Lohan, Anthony Bourdain, Wonder Woman, Jersey Shore, and Duran Duran (can you guess that connection?). I think my favorite is the Virginia Woolf Celebrity Love Children Smash that asks: “What if To The Lighthouse’s Augustus Carmichael was the love-child of Jamaican reggae musician and record producer Augustus Pablo and American jazz composer/piano player Hoagy Carmichael?” Hearts Asunder is most definitely not for the purist. But it’s a fun place to noodle around in homage to Woolf, who no doubt would have appreciated their iconoclastic take along with all the anniversary’s gravity. As she wrote in her posthumously-published essay, “The Death of the Moth”:

It was as if someone had taken a tiny bead of pure life and decking it as lightly as possible with down and feathers, had set it dancing and zig-zagging to show us the true nature of life. Thus displayed one could not get over the strangeness of it.

(via Libraryland)

(Painting of Virginia Woolf by Roger Fry, c. 1917.)

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2 Comments to Woolf Whistle

  1. Kat Warren's Gravatar Kat Warren
    March 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Sad, so sad, that note, especially with the sense of awareness.

  2. March 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    As a writer, one of the things about Woolf that fills me with admiration is that she and Leonard really did have one of the happiest marriages in the history of literature.

    A woman who knew how to do that, knew a lot.

  1. By on April 15, 2011 at 6:33 am

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