Tag Archives: Virginia Woolf

inventory: bloomsbury

a collection of things I am loving at the moment.

When am I not loving Bloomsbury? That answer is never. I’ve actually done a “bloomsbury inspo” post before, which is poorly formatted as it was imported from my last blog. But inventory is a little different than inspo. It is about you can do/buy/experience NOW. opposed to just look at.

inventory: bloomsbury


1. Temperley London is always wonderful. And is one of the easier designers to see direct Bloomsbury influence. If you don’t have $3000 and a ball to go to, there is Alice by Temperley, which is the edgier younger (still splurgy, but less so) sister, still ripe with romantic, historic influences. 
2. Mrs. Dalloway, cover by Vanessa Bell, which is my header for this blog. Though I imagine you won’t be stumbling upon any first editions, you can still read Woolf’s novels. My favorite is Mrs. Dalloway, but everything by Woolf is wonderful.
3. One of my all time favorite non-fiction books Uncommon Arrangements by Katie Roiphe is about seven marriages between 1910-1939 and looks at how those marriages worked (or didn’t.) Included is the marriage of Clive and Vanessa Bell and their relationships with Duncan Grant, as well as many relationships of their friends and those on the edge of Bloomsbury group.
4. Charleston House, was the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and the center of Bloomsbury social life and you can go visit it. Bell did all of the interior decorating. They also have a pretty stellar gift shop online.  If you can’t visit Charleston anytime soon, a quick google search of “bloomsbury style” gets lots of images of Charleston House and Bell’s designs, and there are a great number of books about Bell’s designs.
5.  There was a lot of Bloomsbury art. a lot. Because the artists did a lot of sketchs and prints and what not. And pieces can be purchased (or ogled at) at Bloomsbury Workshop.
6. I just really like these shoes and they seem so fun and appropriate for a garden party. Also they are on super sale!
7. An article from the much mourned Domino magazine was about this woman who decorated her tiny little apartment after Charleston House. Online documentation of Domino archives are a little tricky, but the images are rampant so here’s links to a blogpost with the images.

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judging a book by its cover: part 2

My all-time favorite book covers

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

AHhhhHHH. This is great book cover design. My mother and I found this book at Barnes and Noble and were just drawn to it. The faceless woman walking in to the book. The ink stained title. Fforde’s odd spelling jumping out in neon lime green. I had no idea what the book was about, though it turned out to be quite clearly explained in the cover (a woman jumping into a book), I knew I would love it. And I did.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

When I first saw this cover it was in a magazine with a positive review. Then I saw it at Barnes and Noble and finally my father bought it for me at a book sale with a water damaged cover. Maybe I am just a fan of ink blots. This cover bores on the plot even less. Between the sort-off goofy elementary school letter home print and really simplistic image, this cover might not work. But it does and is beautiful just like the text.

The Complete Works of Flannery O’Connor

The Complete Works of Flannery O'Connor

I love peacocks. So did Ms. O’Connor. This is one of those covers that feels powdery that I talked about once before. I really love the dual imagery of eyes and peacock feathers. And the combination is not forced, visually or meaning-wise.

Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles

Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles by Katie Roiphe

My love of Bloomsbury is not a secret one. This is the book that started it all. I read it while doing my research paper on Virginia Woolf during high school and I fell in love with the people stuck between their parents’ Victorian ideals and their own progressive ideas about sex and gender. There has since been another cover introduced that I don’t like as much. I love the clarity of the blue and the clear divide between the fonts, one inspired by the swirls of Art Nouveau and the other the streamline of Art Deco, and somewhere in between these two art movements seven couples existed.

Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, cover design by Vanessa Bell

Everyone should recognize this cover. My header on the blog is cropped from this design. Vanessa Bell, Woolf’s sister, painted this cover. I love the simple color scheme and the abstraction of the bouquet and stage?.

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independent research brainstorming

This is the last thing I need to be doing! I should be polishing my Villette paper, outlining my Mina Loy paper or reacting to Richard Gere is my Hero, the film we just watched in Tibet and Film Studies.

But reading “The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot today really piqued my interest in the depiction of shell shocked victims in Modernist literature. There is a World War I veteran who could be interpreted as shell-shocked in the first part of the poem “1. The Burial of the Dead” which is the closest in proximity to the introduction in Ancient Greek and Latin, as well contains the quote that brings up questions of nationality during a time of war “Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.” which is “I am not Russian at all; I come from Lithuania, a true German” in German. Also there is a quote from Wagner’s opera in German “Tristan und Isolde” and allusions to the poetry of Charles Baudelaire.

Well this reminded me severely of Septimus Warren Smith from my favorite Modernist novel, Mrs. Dalloway, who hallucinates that the birds are speaking to him in Greek. While this hallucination comes from Virginia Woolf’s own, I think there may be a connection between this break down of language and the break down of cultural identity that comes from such a disillusioning war like World War I for the British.

So I think I’ll be doing some independent research over my spring break concerning whether this comes up again in other Modernist works concerning World War I’s disillusionment with cultural identity or other works concerning other wars.

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books that made me

I may be giving the tomes too much agency. But I think most English majors have the book that made them an English major. So I think it is a logical conclusion that books made me into other things as well.

Well, here they are.

the books that made me:

  1. Emma-by Jane Austen: Probably no other book has edited my personality more. I saw the film adaptation in 1996 because I was five and I was very self-conscious about my name NOT being Emily. I really felt my parents had gypped me because I did not know anyone name Emma. But Gwyneth Paltrow was lovely and fabulous and had great hair and period clothing and from that moment on I was in love with Jane Austen. It also helped that Gwyneth wore a pink ball gown right out of my imagination to the Oscar’s that year. Sometimes I wonder where Emma myself really ends and where Miss Woodhouse begins. But I don’t worry about it too much because though Emma Woodhouse is manipulative, judgmental and catty, she overcomes these faults  to learn to accept other people, though she never changes completely like Lizzie Bennett who has “been so blind” and alters her personality for a man.
  2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-E.L Konigsburg: The reason I’m minoring/majoring in Art History. If Emma Woodhouse is who I want to be now, Claudia Kincaid is the 12 year old I wanted to be when I was 8. Unfortunately, when I was 12, I was terribly rude and annoying and co-dependent on my equally annoying group of friends, while Claudia is independent and adventurous. I love the quote when she says “I guess I like complications.”
  3. The Eyre Affair-Jasper Fforde: This book convinced me that there were other people who had literary based humor outside of my family. It is set in an alternate universe where jumping into books is possible.
  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith: Francie Nolan and I could not live more separate lives. I grew up in a little bubble of suburbia and Francie grew up of the slums of Brooklyn. But I could read this a thousand times and I still cry every time. Though I grew up wanting to be Emma Woodhouse, I think I’m really much more like Francie Nolan. And I think this mother-daughter relationships is the most realistic ever written.
  5. Little Women-Louisa May Alcott: I haven’t read this book in years because I thought it was the greatest novel ever for the time I was 7 to about 14 and I’m so afraid I’m going to go back and reading it. I was a vegetarian for eight year because Louisa May Alcott didn’t eat meat, so that’s a pretty big influence. Plus Jo March is probably the reason I’m an English major. This book was the first “classic” I read and after it, I read a ridiculous amount of Victorian novels from both sides of the ocean. Thus I read Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte and Dickens a lot earlier than I would have in school. And if you don’t want to be an English major after Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights then I don’t think there is much hope for you.
  6. Bunnicula by I don’t know who-This book did not influence me because it was so good, more because it was so bad. This was the first book I ever was supposed to read for school that I didn’t. And with that, I realized that not all teachers were good and kind and smart. Because when Mrs. Johnson chose this idiotic book, I knew she was not looking for my best interest as a 4th grade student.
  7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez-When I picked this out I knew it would challenge me. This book is probably the most cited as the greatest book of all time, and I knew I wanted to read but it is flat out hard. But it also opened me up to the world of Magic Realism that I absolutely adore. And after I read this, Garcia’s short stories were a lot less intimidating.
  8. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: I have a somewhat destructive relationship with Virginia Woolf. If I read her when I’m depressed, I get more depressed. But never has an author so captured what I know bipolar feels like. Except maybe the screenwriters for M*A*S*H. I love Virginia Woolf’s novels so much, but this one is my absolute favorite because I feel all the characters are just different manifestations of a single, bipolar woman. The banner on my blog is actually cropped from the Vanessa Bell (Virginia’s sister) cover of Mrs. Dalloway. And because of this book I love Bloomsbury!
  9. Selected Poems of W.H. Auden by W.H. Auden: The book I carry with me always. I love Auden’s poetry so much, I’m convinced he is completely underrated and in the shadow of T.S. Eliot because he is. I cry just because it is so beautiful.
  10. “Whoso List to Hunt”-Thomas Wyatt: But I wouldn’t have that reaction with this sonnet which we read in my AP Literature class. Before this poem, I was super intimated by poetry except for like lyric, Romantic stuff that is full of pretty simple images, like Wordsworth. This poem no one in my class could figure out, including me, but I looked at the text and looked at the words and I figured it out. And I think that feeling of figuring out what an author has down in a novel or a poem is the greatest in the world, and that’s probably why I am an English major because I am always chasing that “a-ha” feeling I get when I find something new in a book or a poem.

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