Thursday, 23 June 2016

Questionnaire Responses by Rachel Bowlby

1)      If you were shipwrecked on a desert island (as in the BBC Radio 4 programme) and could have one Virginia Woolf work and/or one work on Woolf - criticism, biography, or whatever - what would it be and why?

A Room of One's Own.  Of course, The Waves is the answer that first springs to mind, given the situation; but I confess that that's always been my least favourite Woolf novel. So I prefer to think that I'd more be feeling the pleasures and difficulties of An Island of One's Own.  A Room has always been an inspiration-- both for its style (the mock-narrative, the saying of the most serious things in a playful mode) and for the sheer range of questions and arguments that are presented.

2)      What, for you, is the single most memorable or interesting Virginia Woolf sentence (other than the December 1910 statement), and why?

'Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself'.  It couldn't be plainer, and it could have been spoken in any number of real situations, then or now. It's an everyday kind of remark. But taken in context-- the context of the novel it begins--it evokes an entire social and gendered world. The flowers have multiple meanings (which the novel will further multiply). They are commodities (not vegetation); they are prerequisites (the flowers) for a grand occasion; they are feminine, what a lady may choose to buy (but a servant would otherwise have to). The sentence does not say 'Mrs Dalloway said she would clean the sink herself'.

3)     How do you see your own work on and around Woolf developing over the next five years?

One thing I'm hoping to do is to write about that first sentence of Mrs Dalloway!