Yes, it is Easter, and in Norway that only means one thing when it comes to literature: Crime fiction. Norwegians seem obsessed with this genre, which I personally do not find particularly interesting. That is why I choose to have this week’s hottie be a proper intellectual and a fantastic writer: Virginia Woolf (1882-1941).
Woolf was one of the founders of the Modernist movement together with, among others, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. Some of her most famous books are A Room Of One’s Own, To The Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway. In them she explores gender relations, class hierarchy and the consequences of war. She is famous for her use of stream-of-consciousness to emphasize the psychological aspects of her characters.
Woolf’s family was an artistic and literary one. Her father, Sir Lesley Stephen, was a literary critic and the editor of the first edition of the Dictionary of National Biography, his first wife had been the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray. Woolf’s sister, Vanessa, became a painter, two of her brothers became psychoanalysts, and two of her half-brothers founded Duckworth & Co. publishing. Friends of the family included Thomas Carlyle, Henry James and George Eliot. No wonder Woolf became interested in writing!
All her life, Woolf struggled with the effects of bi-polar disorder which at times led her to long periods of convalescence. However, her sense of humor never left her and she openly referred to herself as “mad”, and told people that she heard voices and had visions.
Woolf was part of the Bloomsbury Group which included many of London’s literary circle, who gathered to discuss art, literature and politics.
In other words: Virginia Woolf was intelligent, social, talented and awesome. If you haven’t read any of her novels yet, I highly recommend that you do so.