140th anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s birth

Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer, considered one of the greatest voices in 20th-century literature, and one of the predecessors to literary modernism. Through her deeply experimental style Woolf delivered shrewd critiques of the society around her that was strongly characterized by constant oppression. Woolf became one of the central subjects of the 1970s […]

140th anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s birth

Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer, considered one of the greatest voices in 20th-century literature, and one of the predecessors to literary modernism. Through her deeply experimental style Woolf delivered shrewd critiques of the society around her that was strongly characterized by constant oppression.

Woolf became one of the central subjects of the 1970s movement of feminist criticism and her works have since garnered much attention and widespread commentary for “inspiring feminism”. She is
considered one of the most important feminist voices of her time.

Her works have been translated into more than 50 languages. A large body of literature is dedicated to her life and work, and she has been the subject of plays, novels, and films.

Throughout her life, Woolf was troubled by her mental illness. She was institutionalized several times and attempted suicide at least twice. Her illness was characterized by symptoms that today would be diagnosed as bipolar disorder, for which there was no effective
intervention during her lifetime. In 1941, at age 59, Woolf died by drowning herself in the River Ouse at Lewes.

WORKS

Woolf’s unmistakable language as well as her emotional depth made the writer one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. The author’s works, from her short stories to her essays, revolutionized the world they encountered, not only artistically but also socially.
Among the writer’s various works, we have put together a shortlist of her essential books.

 

MRS. DALLOWAY

Compared by critics to a post-impressionist painting, Mrs. Dalloway follows throughout its pages a single day in June 1923. It is a parallel narrative between two characters who never meet except in thought. Delving into the psychology of these two individuals, this is the work that best exemplifies Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness style.

 

The Waves

Virginia Woolf’s most poetic work, as well as one of her most experimental, the prose, is essentially a poetic sequence. The narrative follows six friends through themselves, and the evolution of their friendship throughout their lives. Woolf describes each individual in a particularly intimate way, as well as the subjectivity of their perception of reality

 

A Room of One’s Own

Considered one of the most important works from the early days of the feminist movement, A Room of One’s Own describes the oppression and barriers women have to face in their daily lives. Starting from a questioning of the absence of female figures in the Western art canon, Woolf analyzes the various obstacles that women artists have in their way, particularly in cultural and financial terms. It is also an encouragement to write, the feminist seeks to urge the instrumentalization of all the barriers women face, motivating them to write about them rather than letting them deter them.

 

ORLANDO

One of Woolf’s most revolutionary and avant-garde works. Here the writer explores the fragility and complexity of the concept of gender. Through a protagonist who changes gender throughout her supernaturally long life, Woolf instrumentalizes a biographical language in the narrative that follows Orlando’s story over two centuries. Written as a love letter to her lover, the author drew inspiration not only from Vita Sackville-West, but also from the aristocratic family of her great love.

 

To the Lighthouse

Deeply symbolic, To the Lighthouse is one of the masterpieces of literary Modernism. Considered the climax of Woolf’s experimental style, this work explores ideals about art, family relationships, and the effect of time on these. Structured in three chronologically distant parts, the book is a study of family mourning, a theme that deeply affected the writer’s life.

 

HERSTORY Makes History 25, January 2022