Life in Woolf’s Shadow

It won’t always be like this, I know, but it’s all Woolf all the time around here these days. It’s strange, but I love it.

When my book came out, I thought I’d leave Woolf behind. I thought I’d quickly finish editing Mrs. Dalloway (ha!) and move on. But I wanted to host the Woolf conference, so then, perhaps, after the conference…

So, on Monday, I stayed home to prepare for the week’s teaching: 1) leading a reading group on Mrs. Dalloway at the Mercantile Library Monday night, 2) teaching the end of The Waves to my undergraduate class on Tuesday, and 3) leading the Modern British graduate students’ group on editing Mrs. Dalloway on Tuesday night. That’s a lot of Woolf.

I didn’t expect Woolf to continue to loom so large. I certainly never expected to continue to be so riveted. I half-fear that it may be some kind of mental flaw: a scar in my brain that makes this one writer continue to resonate so powerfully.

Sunday night, I was reading some urban theory. Specifically, I was reading a discussion of the links between city life and agoraphobia, of Freud’s interpretation of the tension between women’s desire to sit in a window, beckoning men, and the fear of their sexual feelings. Freud and his generation (Woolf’s generation) also linked such moods to male homosexuals. Suddenly, I could see the dim outlines of a footnote, something about Septimus’ method of suicide as deeply connected to the modern city.

I was so excited that I could read no further.