The Hours

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					           The Hours
 Virginia Woolf    Michael
Michael Cunningham

 1. Life:
 Born in November 6, 1952 in
  Cincinnati, Ohio, growing up in
  Pasadena California.
 B. A. of English literature at Stanford
  University; Master of Fine Arts degree
  from the University of Iowa
Michael Cunningham
 2. Awards:
 1989: White Angel, „The Best
  American Short Stories‟
 1993:Guggenheim Fellowship
 1995: the Whiting Writers‟ Award
 1998: National Endowment for the
  Arts Fellowship
Michael Cunningham
 3. Work: teaching at the Fine Arts
  Work Center in Provincetown,
  Massachusetts and in the creative
  writing MFA program at Brooklyn
  College; a producer
 4. Novel:
 1984: Golden States
 1990: A Home at the end of the
Michael Cunningham
 4. Novel:
 1995: Flesh and Blood
 1998: The Hours (establishing Cunningham
  as a major force in American writing;
  awarded Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1999;
  PEN/Faulkner Award, 1999; Gay, Lesbian,
  Bisexual, and Transgendered Book Award,
 2005: Specimen Days (not well received by
  American critics)
Michael Cunningham
 Although Cunningham is gay and has
  been partnered for 18 years, he
  dislikes being referred to as only a
  “gay writer”, because while being gay
  does greatly influence his work, he
  feels that it is not (and should not be)
  his defining characteristic.
Virginia Woolf
 1. Early life
 Raised in an environment filled with the
  influences of Victorian literary society:
 Father: Sir Leslie Stephen, an editor, critic,
  and biographer; connection to William
 Mother: Julia Stephan, descended from an
  attendant of Marie Antoinette, coming from
  a family of renowned beauties who left
  their mark on Victorian society as models
  for Pre-Raphaelite artists and early
Virginia Woolf
 Parents’ association: Henry James,
  George Elliot, George Henry Lewes, Julia
  Margaret Cameron, and James Russell
 22 Hyde Park Gate: classic and English
 St Ives in Cornwall: childhood memories,
  a place for the Stephan family to spend
  summer until 1895 (the Talland House, the
  Godrevy Lighthouse informed the fiction
  she wrote in later years, notably To the
Virginia Woolf
   Nervous Breakdowns: led by
   1. Family members‟ death:
   1895: mother died of influenza
   1897: half sister Stella died
   1904: the death of her father
    provoking her most alarming collapse
    and her being briefly institutionalized
Virginia Woolf
 Nervous Breakdowns:
 2. the sexual abuse by her half-brothers
  George and Gerald (recalled in her
  autobiographical essays A Sketch of the
  Past and 22 Hyde Park Gate)
 3. bipolar disorder, a posthumous diagnosis,
  an illness which coloured her work,
  relationships, and life and eventually led to
  her suicide
Virginia Woolf
 46 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury:
 Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Saxon
  Sydney-Turner, Duncan Grant and
  Leonard Woolf, forming the nucleus of
  the intellectual circle known as the
  Bloomsbury Group
 The ethos of Bloomsbury discouraged
  sexual exclusivity
Virginia Woolf
 2. Personal life
 Marriage: married writer Leonard Woolf in
  1912 (a penniless Jew); a close bond but
  never fully consummated; Virginia‟s diary
  wrote “Love-making— after 25 years can‟t
  bear to be separate…you see it is
  enormous pleasure being wanted: a wife.
  And our marriage so complete.”
 Hogarth Press
Virginia Woolf
 Sexuality: women directed
 A Lesbian relationship with Vita
  Sackville-West: through most of the
  1920s (In 1928, Woolf presented
  Sackville-West with Orlando, a
  fantastical biography in which the
  eponymous hero‟s life spans three
  centuries and both genders— the
  longest and most charming love letter in
Virginia Woolf
 Other intimate friendships: Madge
  Vaughn (the daughter of J. A.
  Symonds, and inspiration for the
  character of Mrs. Dalloway), and
  Violet Dickinson, composer, and
  Suffragette Ethel Smyth; sister
  Vanessa Bell
Virginia Woolf
 3. Death
 Events that caused her death:
 1. mental depression
 2. the ongoing war and the
  destruction of her homes in London
  during the air raid
 3. the cool reception of her biography
  on her late friend Roger Fry
Virginia Woolf
 On 28 March 1941, rather than
  having another nervous breakdown,
  Woolf drowned herself by weighing
  her pockets with stones and walking
  into the River Ouse near her home.
  Her body was not found until April 18.
  Her husband buried her remains
  under a tree in the garden of their
  house in Rodmell, Sussex.
Virginia Woolf
 4. Contribution
 1. One of the greatest innovators in the
  English literature
 2. stream-of-consciousness, the underlying
  psychological as well as emotional motives
  of characters, and the various possibilities
  of fractured narrative and chronology
 3. E. M. Forster: she pushed the English
  language “a little further against the dark.”
Virginia Woolf
 5. Critics against Woolf:
 1. epitomizing the narrow world of
  the upper-middle class English
  intelligentsia, lacking in universality
  and dept, without the power to
  communicate anything of emotional
  or ethical relevance to the
  disillusioned common reader.
Virginia Woolf
 5. Critics against Woolf:
 2. an anti-Semite and a snob:
 In her diary: “I do not like the Jewish
  voice; I do not like the Jewish Laugh.”
 In her 1930 letter to Ethel Smyth:
  “How I hated marrying a Jew—What a
  snob I was, for they have immense
Virginia Woolf
   6. Work:
   Novels
   The Voyage Out (1915)
   Night and Day (1919)
   Jacob's Room (1922)
   Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
   To the Lighthouse (1927)
   Orlando: A Biography (1928)
   The Waves (1931)
   The Years (1937)
   Between the Acts (1941)
Mrs Dalloway
 Characters:
 1. Clarissa Dalloway: based on Woolf‟s
  childhood friend, Kitty Maxse;
 2. Richard Dalloway:
 3. Elizabeth Dalloway
 4. Peter Walsh
 5. Sally Seton/Lady Rosseter
 6. Miss Kilman
 7. Septimus Warren Smith
Mrs Dalloway
   Characters:
   8. Lucrezia Warren Smith
   9. Dr. Holmes
   10. Sir William Bradshaw
   11. Lady Bradshaw
Mrs Dalloway
 Themes
 1. The sea as symbolic of life: The ebb and
  flow of life. When the image is portrayed as
  being harmonized, the sea represents a
  great confidence and comfort. Yet, when
  the image is presented as disjointed or
  uncomfortable, it symbolizes disassociation,
  loneliness, and fear
 2. Doubling: Septimus as Clarissa‟s
  doppleganger, the alternate persona, the
  darker, more internal personality compared
  to Clarissa‟s very social and singular
Virginia Woolf
 Themes:
 3. The intersection of time and
  timelessness: Woolf‟s prose has
  blurred the distinction between dream
  and reality, between the past and
 4. Social commentary: the flimsy
  lifestyle of England‟s upper classes at
  the time of the novel
Virginia Woolf
 Themes
 5. The world of the sane and insane
  side by side: Woolf portrays the sane
  grasping for significant and
  substantial connections to life, living
  among those who have been cut off
  from such connections and who suffer
  because of the improper treatment
  they, henceforth, receive.
The Hours (novel)
 1. The book concerns three generations
  of women affected by Virginia Woolf:
 A. Woolf herself writing Mrs. Dalloway in
  1923 and struggling with her own mental
 B. Mrs. Brown (the name from Woolf‟s short
  prose Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown), wife of
  a WWII veteran, who is reading Mrs.
  Dalloway in 1949 as she plans her
  husband‟s birthday party.
The Hours
 C. Clarissay Vaughn, a lesbian, who
  plans a party in1999 to celebrate a
  major literary award received by her
  good friend and former lover, the
  poet Richard, who is dying of AIDS.
 2. Written in the stream-of-
  consciousness style
The Hours
 Themes:
 1. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
  Transgender) issues: To some extent the
  novel examines the freedom with which
  successive generations have been able to
  express their sexuality freely, to the public,
  even to themselves.
 2. Mental illness: Cunningham‟s novel
  suggests to some extent, perceived mental
  illness can be a legitimate expression of

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