Thursday, November 18, 2010

New York Time Review of Between the Acts

Check out Hudson Strode's review of Between the Acts.  Check the date:  1941.  Strode calls Woolf, "the sole indisputable genius among contemporary British women-of-letters."

I agree.  


In his review, Strode begins by contemplating Virginia Woolf's suicide.  As his review was published in October1941, this sets Woolf's death at a mere seven months (or rather, six given that her death occurred at the end of March) before the review's publication.  Strode concerns himself with the possible reasons that Woolf ended her life, all of which we have touched upon in our course this semester.  

In quoting Woolf (para. 4), Strode recalls Woolf's philosophy of writing, something we discussed in correlation with T. S. Eliot's philosophy:  the best writing comes from the unconscious.  Indeed, Strode hails Woolf's novels as "ephemeral," and they are; yet he also notes the importance of her work as a whole, including her critical movements, which he details as having "extraordinary perception."

Strode goes on to say that while Between the Acts carries the most simple plot in all of Woolf's works, that its genius lies in her continual harnessing of life's connection, citing the human, animal, and spiritual realms embedded within the novel.  Ultimately, Strode tells us that the plot itself is not important, relating this sentiment back to the novel itself (the "pageant within a pageant and all within the vaster pageant of creation and infinity").

Strode also notes the connections/reflections in Between the Acts that recalls Woolf's earlier novels, Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando, both of which we read this semester.  

Although Strode does not express this explicitly, the connections to India and Africa that are present in Between the Acts, suggest British colonialism and empire.  Much like Strode states, "'Between the Acts' has no more ending, no more conclusion than English history."  Again, we see the ways in which Woolf commentated upon not just her society and gender, but her country.   

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