Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Virginia Woolf biographies fill one whole shelf at the San Francisco Main Library.

One of these is by her niece, her sister's daughter, Vanessa Bell. Another is by Nigel Nicolson, the son of Vita Sackville-West, with whom Woolf had a two-year very intense friendship/affair. Both of Nigel Nicolson's parents openly had affairs with other people of their own gender, but still and all, Woolf has to seem on some level an intruder on the family to a child of the family.

All these people, the Bloomsbury group, wrote to each other and about each other a lot. We can easily know how they appeared to each other. To a certain extent hides who they were. Clever, rather catty Virginia Woolf the letter writer is the women who drowned herself. Although, of course, the cattiness might play in. The ability to have mercy on others and the ability to have mercy on oneself are probably related.