College Preparatory School for Girls Grades 3-12

Sally Alexander's Book Club

Return home to Holton!

Join Sally Colclough Alexander '51 and fellow alumnae for wine, cheese, and conversation on May 24, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the FCL.

We will be reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

Kindly RSVP to Alumnae Relations & Stewardship Manager Bradley Norwood, 301-365-6469


An Introduction from Sally:

As the foremost female Modernist, she is surely a writer you want to know or meet again. Some of you read her essay "A Room of One's Own," a powerful early feminist statement., with me in senior English..

Virginia Stephens was borne into a socially and intellectually prominent English family in the late 1900's. Throughout her life she suffered from recurring mental illness, undoubtedly influenced by the death of her mother in her early teens, and by sexual abuse by her half-brothers. She and her sister Vanessa were at the center of the Bloomsbury group, writers, artists and thinkers. She married Leonard Woolf, and together they founded the Hogarth Press, publishers of her work, and the early work of T.S. Eliot, among others. There is no doubt that the marriage was happy; there is equally no doubt that she had an affair with Vita Sackville-West, whose novel The Edwardians is a Bloomsbury-ish look at Edwardian aristocratic society.

In 1941 Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with heavy stones and walked into the River Ouse, near their country home. To the Lighthouse takes place on two days, ten years apart, in a locale undoubtedly based on the Stephens' summer home in St.Ives, Cornwall. If you can obtain a recording of it, do- if not, read aloud to yourself, as it is a book to be heard. It might be pleasant if we each chose a favorite passage and came prepared to read it aloud. Don't fight long sentences and stream of consciousness - the book is worthy of your appreciation. My aged Harcourt Brace paperback is 208 pages.

Here are a few quotations from Eudora Welty's Preface:

“From its beginning, the novel never parts from the subjective . . . The interior of its characters' lives is where we experience everything.

“Time itself . . . is a rhythm that moves as waves of the sea move, and the rise and fall of the heavenly bodies that pass over the sleeping house. . . . there is a felt rhythm, too, underlying the novel's structure and forming a pattern of waking and sleeping, presence and absence, living and living no longer, between clamorous memory and lapses of mind, between the rushing in of love and the loosening of the hand in sleep.”

“The characters in their separate ways are absorbed in the wresting of order and sequence out of chaos, of shape out of what shifts and change or vanishes before their eyes.”

-Sally

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