i am afraid of virginia woolf...
i am interested, also, in virginia's thoughts on what it meant to be a real woman and how she often does not feel like a real woman. this is especially brought out in her discussion of dress, how she never feels like she has anything to wear, how a new dress can make her feel more appropriate in society, how being teased for her hat made her feel so mortified and depressed.
i feel, for the first time, that i have found a literary ancestor that does not require a great amount of imagination and interpretation to identify with. a friend of mine, suspicious of the constant lesbian reinterpretation of fictions that i have increasingly relied on in order to see myself in the world, asks, really? were they really gay? and there is no question here, not only that vita and virginia slept together, but that they had a lesbian sensibility ... cataloging other 'sapphists,' often in a teasing, knowing way, taking on male pet names and imaginary characters (potto, orlando), and a certain ease with which they interrogate gender ... virginia, more than vita, wrote out of her alienation, her otherness, her queerness, while vita, it seemed, created a kind of lesbian world for herself (married a fag, is it true?).
and all this time, i have the indigo girls' song "virginia woolf" in my head and that exacerbates my sense that this exploration is a cliche one. the line that is lodged most smugly and persistently in my brain -- "they published your diaries/ and that's how i got to know you/ a key to a room of your own and a mind without end" -- makes me cringe. the flip side of the constant lesbian reinterpretation of "straight" fictions and lives is that overtly, heavily lesbian themes make me extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable.