I stumbled upon this article while searching for Woolf-related findings on the internet. It’s basically a review or promotion for the book Afterwords, which is a collection of condolence letters written by Woolf’s peers, literary and other, about Woolf after her death. Some of the writers featured are T.S. Eliot, Edith Sitwell, and H.G. Wells, among others. I didn’t think much of the article at first, especially since it doesn’t provide many samples of the letters (which is a shame). But I feel that the very concept itself- a book full of praises and remembrances of Woolf, a tribute to her genius – is a great addendum to our conversation from Friday’s class.
Woolf discusses at the end of chapter three of A Room of One’s Own that vulnerability and self-consciousness are qualities that all artists, men and women alike, struggle with, for better or worse. She says, “it is precisely the men and women of genius who mind most what is said of them,” and to deny this would be arrogant (55). I think that this message casts Afterwords in a new light. After reading Woolf’s statement I can’t even imagine how much appreciation and gratitude she would have had to read what her fellow male and female writers had to say about her and her legacy after death. The statement also makes me think about how difficult it must have been for these writers themselves must to battle their own senses of self-consciousness and vulnerability to make such generous statements about their own peer and competitor in the realm of literature. And how difficult must it have been for T.S. Elliot and E.M. Forster, men commending a female peer? This speaks ever-more to Woolf’s greatness.
I think in A Room of One’s Own Woolf demonstrates the importance of community between and support among writers, something that is difficult for alls artists because they are naturally competitive and self-conscious about their work. What something like Afterwords shows is that Woolf’s vision was and continues to be achieved – a woman writer can inspire male writers to overcome their self-consciousness enough to recognize the literary talents of women. At the same time women writers, who are also naturally self-conscious, feel empowered when recognized by their not only female but also male peers. Though self-conscious creatures, writers must find the strength to support each other and create a community as diverse as possible, one of all genders and ethnicities, so each writer can learn and be inspired by the unique talents and experiences of the others.