Experience Put to Use
Edited By Celia M. Wallhead
Further to the first book, Writers of the Spanish Civil War: The Testimony of Their Auto/Biographies (2011), which featured the writings on the war (1936–39) of six key British and American authors: Gerald Brenan, Robert Graves, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Stephen Spender and Laurie Lee, this new work studies the actions in the war of those physically involved and writings focused on the war, either at the time or later, by eight more foreign authors: Virginia Woolf, John Dos Passos, Franz Borkenau, V. S. Pritchett, André Malraux, Arthur Koestler, Martha Gellhorn and Peter Kemp. In addition to comparing their autobiographies with what their biographers said, in order to show up any discrepancies, as had been done in the first book, here, the texts are scrutinized to detect use of stereotypes or adaptation of the material to other purposes in the writing. New perspectives are introduced now in that two of the authors are women, one writing from a distance but deeply affected by the war (Virginia Woolf) and one active in journalism on the spot (Martha Gellhorn), and our final author, Peter Kemp, went to Spain to fight on the side of the Nationalists under Franco as opposed to the Republicans.
Chapter 1. Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) The Death of Julian Bell and Three Guineas (Juan Antonio Díaz López)
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JUAN ANTONIO DÍAZ LÓPEZ
Chapter 1. Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)The Death of Julian Bell and Three Guineas
Autobiography and biography
Most of Virginia Woolf’s writing is intensely autobiographical, even if she changes the names of the people involved before transforming them into characters, yet there is no autobiography. She was preparing to write her autobiography in the last years of her life, but she never finished it. As her most thorough biographer, Hermione Lee, asserts:
The sense of apprehension which filled her writings from 1939 onwards, applied to Europe, but also to herself. Just as civilisation (Freud told her) could not get rid of its aggression, so the individual may not be able to avoid regression into mental illness or self-destruction. It may have been this fear which made her stop writing her autobiography shortly before her suicide. (Lee 1997, 726)
Virginia Woolf was obsessed by the idea of having multiple selves and under the influence of Freud (whom she met in London after his ‘rescue’ from Vienna, but with whom she often disagreed) writes this into her fiction. As Lee continues:
Freud was one of many insistent voices which troubled and challenged her now. In her mind, as she wrote her autobiography, she heard the inner voices of her past and latent selves, voices she had described in The Waves as ‘those old half-articulate ghosts who...
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