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Virginia Woolf Icon

This is a book about "Virginia Woolf": the face that sells more postcards than any other at Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, the name that Edward Albee’s play linked with fear, the cultural icon so rich in meanings that it has been used to market everything from the New York Review of Books to Bass Ale. Brenda Silver analyzes Virginia Woolf’s surprising visibility in both high and popular culture, showing how her image and authority have been claimed or challenged in debates about art, politics, anger, sexuality, gender, class, the canon, feminism, race, and fashion.

From Virginia Woolf’s 1937 appearance on the cover of Time magazine to her current roles in theater, film, and television, Silver traces the often contradictory representations and the responses they provoke, highlighting the recurring motifs that associate Virginia Woolf with fear. By looking more closely at who is afraid and the contexts in which she is perceived to be frightening, Silver illustrates how Virginia Woolf has become the site of conflicts about cultural boundaries and legitimacy that continue to rage today.

Read World Wide Woolf, a web-only essay.

373 pages | 35 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1999

Women in Culture and Society

Culture Studies

Gender and Sexuality

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature, General Criticism and Critical Theory

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Catharine R. Stimpson
Introduction: The Versioning of Virginia Woolf
Part 1. Negative Encounters: The "Intellectual" Media
Prelude. Anger and Storytelling: Whose Story Counts?
Section 1. The Columbia Stories
Section 2. The New York Review of Books
Section 3. How the Greats Are Fallen
Part 2. Starring Virginia Woolf
Take 1. Production Notes
Take 2. Time: Virginia Woolf Joins the "All-Star Literary Vaudeville"
Take 3. A Writer’s Diary and the "Real" Virginia Woolf
Take 4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Virginia Woolf Becomes a Household Name
Take 5. Quentin Bell’s Biography and Historical Products Inc.: Family Portraits
Take 6. Virginia Woolf’s Face
Take 7. British Graffiti: Me, I’m Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid
Take 8. Tom & Viv & Virginia & Edith & Ottoline & Vita & Carrington
Take 9. Fashion Stills
Part 3. Doubled Movements
Move 1. The Politics of Adaptation; Or, the Authentic Virginia Woolf
Move 2. The Monstrous Union of Virginia Woolf and Marilyn Monroe
Afterword: Virginia Woolf Episodes

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