Volume 16, Number 22
March 23, 2010

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This Week

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Müge TekinI'm not a good chooser to read. What I mean is, I'm not of those people who can easily choose what they like. The books I took one day were often stuck on a shelf  soon after without having been read. But recently, I've also, by chance(?), begun to find what suits to my interests.

Mina Urgan's book about the life of Virginia Woolf has captured me in its pages these days. I was impressed by Woolf after reading the book that examined, in grueling detail, her whole life, from sexual problems and mental disorders, to her feminism and the events that lead to her suicide.  It also illustrates Voolf's own thoughts taken from her diary. Who is she for the concerned reader then? An English novelist, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century experimenting with the stream of consciousness technique.

In fact, what attracts my interest are the complexities of her life.  Saying this, I've heard that the two extremes are mostly experienced at the same time. I mean, those who are the most intelligent are often the most likely to go insane. Woolf might be one of those. Being a lesbian, she's already set apart as very different. 

During her life time (1882-1941), sexual freedom hardly existed. Yet, in some parts of her novels lesbian relationships are very visible. Generally her novels' theme of sexuality isn't too involved. She describes “the vague and dreamlike world, without love, or heart, or passion, or sex, is the world I really care about and find interesting.”

She was married to Leonard but not for love, only for lifelong friendship. She dislikes  masculinity and clearly explains, “I feel no physical attraction in you.” This might have been caused by the sexual abuse from her half-brothers in her childhood. On top of all this, the sudden death of her family members lead to the first of Virginia's nervous breakdowns. These breakdowns took her away from people. She describes this by saying, “I do not like my kind, I detest them, I pass them by...” Writing a novel without knowing whether it would be appreciated made her always anxious. However, she thought writing was her life and a thing so valuable that it could prevent her being from being scattered into pieces.

The thing that lead her to death at the age of 59 was actually her belief that she had lost her creativity to write. Before throwing herself into the river,  she wrote a letter for her husband, telling him that they were the happiest couple ever. 

In the following chapters, her books are examined, but the biography  has been most interesting for me.  If you like essays and biographies, you may also want to read it.


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