Monday, October 5, 2009

Virginia Wolf, Virginia Woolfe (for Virginia Woolf)

Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf?—as Edward Albee might have put it if his 1963 Tony-Award-winning play had been about typographical errors. Virginia Woolf, an Edwardian Brit with an acid wit and a bit of a snob, is still capable of inspiring dread in undergraduates required to spell her last name correctly on exams. Today's typos appear in OhioLINK 13 and four times each, but several of those refer to people other than the author of Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, the "modern" and experimental work The Waves, the feminist tract A Room of One's Own, and the transgendered Orlando. (In an interesting aside, Victoria Sackville-West, who disliked that book's obvious allusions to her daughter Vita, would thereafter refer to Virginia as the "Virgin Wolf.") Woolf was a great lover of books and libraries and much has been written both by and about her. Let's keep her as fearsomely accessible as possible by getting her name right in all of our catalogs.

... when the Day of Judgement dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their reward—their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble—the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, "Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading." ("How Should One Read a Book?" by Virginia Woolf)

(Portrait of Virginia Woolf, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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