A Journey Through: A Love Letter from the 21st Century

  Few in literary history look like Virginia? Writers like Woolf are not only their works, but also the writer himself and the protagonists in his works are constantly mentioned by later generations, bringing inspiration to other writers, being written into literary works and becoming important symbols or protagonists. From the American dramatist Edward? Albee’s 1962 Who’s Afraid of Virginia? Woolf, by 1965 David? Rocky’s novel The British Museum is collapsing, by 1998 Michael? Canning’s “The Hours”, and then 2014 Maggie? Ji’s “Virginia Woolf in Manhattan in the 21st Century” (translated by Qin Chengcheng and Xiao Hai, Guangzhou: Guangdong Tourism Publishing House, published in 2020), with the publication of each work, every so often , Woolf will once again spark a heated debate. She has become a cultural phenomenon and symbol, constantly borrowed, shaped, and recreated. The publication of “Wolf’s Walk in 21st Century Manhattan” immediately attracted the attention of the literary and art circles. Andrew, the screenwriter of the TV series House of Cards? Davis bought the film rights to the book, which is expected to be a classic like The Hours.
Homecoming: From New York to Istanbul

  Virginia Woolf’s husband Leonard says his wife “has a passion for travel.” Because travel can delight and relax her, giving her new horizons, new perspectives, new voices and new inspirations. In his works, Woolf often travels to expand the space for character development. In her “Introduction” to Travels With Virginia Woolf, Jane Morris even argues that much of Woolf’s work can be considered travel literature in its own right: “Voyage” was conceived based on the ship she went to Spain in 1905. Through the imagination of the heroine Rachel’s first travel experience, it expressed the vision of a writer of the same age as the hero to the world outside the UK; “Night and Day” Although the heroine Catherine in “” did not leave the city where she was located, she was immersed in the reverie of a faraway place from time to time; “To the Lighthouse” is based on the writer’s childhood and her family going to Saint? The Eves Island vacation is based on the creation; the London street scene depicted in “Mrs Dalloway” resembles the Dublin where Bloom roams in “Ulysses”; the protagonist of “Orlando” experiences a wonderful transgender in Constantinople Experience, and then feel the different encounters between the sexes; “Flesh” describes the poet couple’s journey from England to Italy through the eyes of a puppy. This “Wolf Walk in 21st Century Manhattan” can also be regarded as a travel work, because the concept of the book benefited from a trip the author took in New York; in addition, the protagonists of the book experienced a journey from England to the United States. Then on the intercontinental journey to Turkey, the whole story also happened during the journey.

Woolf Walks 21st Century Manhattan

  Why did the author choose to revive Woolf’s Berg collection at the New York Public Library? First of all, although Woolf never went to the United States during his lifetime, he was inextricably linked with the United States. Her godfather is an American, and she is well acquainted with many American novelists; her novels are very popular in the United States: “Flesh” (1932) sold 50,000 copies; It also became the best-selling novel after Gone with the Wind, and Woolf’s photo was featured on the cover of Time magazine. The Woolfs were once invited to speak in the United States but failed to make the trip, so in this book the author made Woolf’s wish come true. Secondly, Woolf’s research materials are more in the United States than in the United Kingdom, and many manuscripts are collected in the New York Public Library. Before the 1970s, the Bloomsbury literary and art circle to which Woolf belonged was kept away from ordinary readers in the UK because it was too elitist. Instead, research on her emerged in countries outside the UK. In 1976, the United States was established. In 1978, Japan established the Woolf Society, and after the internationalization of these two research societies, the United Kingdom established the “British Woolf Society” for its writers in August 1998 ( The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain).
  Woolf, who grew up in a European aristocratic family at the end of the 19th century, suddenly entered the modern metropolis of the United States in the 21st century. What kind of strange experience will he have? At this time, the British Empire had fallen, the United States had become a world economic power, New York had become the global financial center, and Manhattan was the center of the center. The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street is crowded with financial elites, along with a dizzying array of commodities, and consumerism is eroding people’s daily lives. Due to the development of electronic technology and the drive of commercial interests, paper bookstores are dying day by day. The author makes Woolf, who loves books and has opened a publishing house, face this change directly. People can’t help but wonder: Do we still need to read classics in the 21st century? In the face of the rapidly changing modern city, is there any need and significance for the existence of classic works? New York is also an important place where the protagonists Gira and Woolf meet, and it is also the key to the growth of the little girl Gerda. What Gerda saw in New York was completely different from what her mother saw. The prosperous business districts, tourist areas and slums were only separated by a wall. The readers followed Gerda and saw the other side of the glamorous metropolis.
  In real life, Woolf has ridden a bicycle, learned to drive a car, traveled by car, train, and ship, but has never been on a plane. Although she described the scene of “Flying over London” with rich imagination, it was only imagination after all. In this book, the author makes up for her regrets by letting Woolf get on a plane from Manhattan to Istanbul. Woolf had been to Turkey twice: in 1906 at the age of 24 with his sister, brother and friend Violet? Dickinson went to Istanbul and passed through Greece. His brother Sobey died of an illness. Later, Woolf wrote “Jacob’s Room” to express his condolences. In 1910, Woolf set foot in Turkey for the second time, because her sister Vanessa had a miscarriage while traveling in Turkey, and she went to take care of it. This journey was written in “Orlando”. Turkey is at the junction of the Eurasian continent, where Eastern and Western cultures collide and meet. Coupled with its own ancient culture, long history, religious changes and differences make this country very distinctive. Istanbul used to be the economic, cultural and political center of the Eastern Roman Empire. Woolf once compared the architecture here to that of Britain, which he thought was too dull. In addition, the simple and natural scenery of Istanbul, which is different from London, deeply shocked the writer’s heart. She wrote this feeling in “Orlando”: The desolate natural ecology of Turkey made Orlando have a sense of reverence for nature for the first time. Great, grand and fraternal, it conveys a natural beauty that is untamed, full of truth and wildness.


  If New York represents the center of modern civilization and economy, then Istanbul is in a sense the capital of nature and the place of freedom. If in New York, Woolf was cautious and restrained in the face of modern civilization, in Istanbul, due to the vastness of nature and cultural integration and openness, writers can bravely be their true self, and their nature has been liberated and returned to The state of a natural person. In the novel, the old, middle and young women finally meet here. Here is the purpose, the purpose and the meaning.

Crossing: A Journey of Return, Discovery and Heritage

  In “Wolf Walks Manhattan in the 21st Century”, three generations of women meet across time and space. The author adopts a unique writing method from a three-person perspective, telling their own journeys in the first person, each character has a relatively independent story line, and the three lines appear alternately, complementing each other and echoing each other. The author uses a large number of inner monologues to describe what the characters see, think, and feel in a way similar to self-talk. The narrative tone and words are in line with the characteristics of the three characters: Angela’s hesitation, Gerda’s Rebellion and longing for recognition are vivid; Woolf’s writing style deliberately imitates the writer’s writing style, with graceful and long sentences, sensitive and delicate, and at the same time, there is a sense of strangeness in the face of great changes in the modern world, but the experience of past life And let her look at the fire, and there is no lack of humor, cunning and boldness in her ignorance. Woolf’s external perspective as a bystander is an interesting contrast to Angela’s presence in it, ignoring it.

Woolf’s photo on the cover of Time magazine

  One of the author’s purposes in writing this book, and also the purpose of Angela’s speech, is to dispel myths, get rid of people’s old stereotypes about Woolf, and change people’s eyes as a writer who is far away from the world, with a sad face, always falling into contemplation. The appearance (such as the Woolf played by Nicole Kidman in the movie “The Moment”), brushed off the false words added to the writer, and tried to restore the multi-faceted, real, flesh-and-blood image of Woolf. Woolf’s husband, Leonard, remembers that during the First World War, they were sheltering from enemy bombing in the basement of their London residence, and his wife made the servants laugh so much that he couldn’t sleep. Cecil? Woolf recalled, “She was a joker, witty, and sometimes vicious, in my mind.” Some of the memoirs do mention Woolf’s love of gossip. For example, did she provoke Dora? Carrington and Lytton? Strachey’s relationship, Litton said dissatisfiedly: Woolf was insane and maliciously tampered with his friendship with her. Ivy Compton Burnett also said: “She’s kind of vicious, you know — she’s going to speak ill of people. Of course, people do that. But people don’t expect Virginia Woolf to be the same. “Writers have their own brilliance, but they also have the shortcomings of ordinary people. People lift the writer to the altar, deliberately erasing her shortcomings and deficiencies, but it is these flaws that make the writer more grounded and popular. In this novel, the author does not shy away from Woolf’s shortcomings. When Angela took care of this critical upper class nobleman, she was often tormented by her meanness. Woolf’s cunning, worldly, fighting wits with shop assistants, and playing hard-to-play when he sold his original book made people laugh, which is in sharp contrast to the image of a writer who has long been ignorant of human fireworks. , this book is not so much a reconstruction of the author’s image as a restoration. The British Woolf Society commented on the book: “Through the creation of a very full character, Maggie Gee brings Woolf back to life.” (“Wolf Walk in 21st Century Manhattan” title page)

Nicole Kidman as Woolf in “The Hours”

  The novel’s protagonist, Anjira Lamb, has published several best-selling books, has a good income, is on the rise in her career, has her own property, can enjoy vacations, and often travels abroad by plane. But her estranged husband and rebellious daughter have left her devastated. She seems to be in chaos and tension at all times, struggling to balance career and family. She represents women’s inner struggles in modern society, confusion about relationships and marriage, and anxiety and exhaustion in the workplace. She is impatient with Woolf’s ignorance of modern society, and potentially jealous of Woolf’s creative talent, but at the same time complacent about being able to walk with famous writers. She has personality conflicts and disagreements with Woolf, but she has deep sympathy for the writer’s life changes. Woolf is deeply in love with her husband, thinking that his death will make him grief-stricken, but Leonard has already found another beautiful person to accompany him, and claims that falling in love with the latter “is the happiest thing in my life”. Angela has endured not telling Woolf the truth is the greatest manifestation of humanity. In addition, Woolf’s husband had clearly promised not to publish her diary before her death, but after her death, he broke his promise and published the diary in its entirety, and it was republished in one edition, leaving all the writer’s privacy in the open. In the conversation between the two, Woolf’s repeated hesitation and Angela’s well-known irony formed a strong irony. In writing, Woolf was Angela’s role model and leader, and Angela “will always remember the excitement she felt when she first read Woolf: ‘Oh, yes! She captured life! …she was My creative guide.'” It was Woolf who encouraged Angela to “take any opportunity to write. Write for your time, write for your countrymen”. Angela is constantly thinking, constantly questioning, and constantly looking for her undeveloped self. In Hagia Sophia, Angela, who suffers from claustrophobia, finally conquered her fear with the help of Woolf holding hands, passed through the darkness, climbed to the observation deck, and stood on the commanding heights. This highly symbolic climb and march fully demonstrated the sisterhood between women, who trust each other, understand each other, and encourage each other:
  finally, we are out. …there is light everywhere, and the whole world is only us. Virginia took me through the Valley of Darkness.
  I seem to have gained – a new life.
  Angela, who is middle-aged, has the role of linking the past and the next. She has inherited Woolf’s mantle, spiritually inherited Woolf’s literary beliefs, and practiced Woolf’s feminist ideas. for myself and for my husband. It was she who corrected people’s misunderstandings and biased understanding of Woolf in her speech, and tenaciously justified Woolf’s name. (The list of Woolf’s enemies, “it took ten minutes”, shows how much people slandered her.) It was she who introduced Woolf’s works to her daughter, who once hated Woolf’s Geer Da, in the process of reading “A Room of One’s Own” and “To the Lighthouse”, gradually came to appreciate the charm of the ideas of the works, and fell in love with Woolf from the bottom of his heart.
  While Angela and Woolf were flying from New York to Istanbul, Gerda flew to New York from a British boarding school. Gerda’s experience is somewhat similar to Woolf’s, reflecting Woolf’s youth in a sense. Woolf was bullied by her elder brother when she was young, while Gerda was bullied and teased by her classmates; both of them were inferior to their appearance: Woolf was not confident in her appearance despite her beauty, while Gerda was They are both stubborn and unwilling to compromise with the surrounding environment, and courage and vulnerability are presented together in them: Woolf wants to escape the pain by suicide, Gerda directly leaves a letter to the principal and then run away; they share the same relationship with their mother, love and resentment: Woolf’s mother is always too busy taking care of others, and she is so lost that she is neglected; She was extremely dissatisfied with her emotional needs. They both broke through their class and expanded their social circles: Woolf moved to Bloomsbury with his sister after his father’s death, met a group of like-minded friends, and gained ideological liberation; while Gerda It was in New York that he met a group of homeless children when he was penniless. It was in this group that he gained friendship and learned independence. Part of Gerda can be regarded as a typical coming-of-age novel, with various elements of a coming-of-age novel: far from the familiar environment, far away from the protection of parents; encountering setbacks, experiencing pain, understanding the richness of life, and expanding the scope of life. Depth and breadth; Woolf can be seen as a guide, as Gerda was reading Woolf’s work on both flights. It can be said that she has always grown up under the candlelight of Woolf’s spirit. In the process, Gerda began to understand her mother, to be proud of her mother, and more importantly, she also wanted to be a writer like her mother and Woolf.

A love letter from the 21st century

  Witnessing the closure of two old bookstores in New York made Woolf and Angela doubt the future of literature for a while, but at an academic conference in Istanbul, the two writers were reassured when they discovered a successor: Gerda in public Reading “A Room of One’s Own” aloud is not only a tribute to my predecessors, but also an expectation for myself. In the future, she is both Shakespeare’s sister and Shakespeare himself. Maybe she will encounter the tangled doubts her mother faced in the future, but at this moment she is brave and determined. And her bravery is inseparable from her acceptance and inheritance of Woolf’s works. From one aspect, it also shows that the works of classic writers like Woolf have not only never been forgotten by later generations, but have also been valued and respected more and more. In 1998, the Modern Library selected one hundred English novels of the 20th century, and “To the Lighthouse” ranked 15th; “Mrs. Dalloway” was named the best one hundred novels from 1923 to 2005 by the American “Time” magazine One of the English novels; on January 25, 2018, Google commemorated Woolf’s 136th birthday with its homepage Doodle. Brenda Silver analyzes the phenomenon of “Idol Woolf,” noting that:
  Whether in academic discourse, intellectual media, or popular/popular culture… Virginia Woolf’s multifaceted creation makes The writer became a powerful and powerful cultural icon, her name, face and authority being brought up incessantly in discussions of art, politics, sex, gender, class, “canon”, fashion, feminism, race and anger and or negative.
  If “Idol Woolf” has become a symbol, transcending her status as a writer and public intellectual, then this book is written as a tribute to her predecessors. Although Woolf Walks in Manhattan in the 21st Century is a novel, produced by the author’s rich imagination, if you are not familiar with Woolf’s life background and works, you will not be able to write such a rich and detailed true plot. In real life, the author Maggie Gee is the vice-president of the Royal Society of Letters, and her works have won many awards. Her doctoral thesis is on Woolf’s research (one of her mentors is the famous critic and author David mentioned above. Rocky), she is familiar with Woolf’s life and works.
  This book is rich in intertextuality with Woolf’s works, and parody and reconstruction of his life and works abound. Example: Woolf threw himself into the Ouse on March 28, 1941, with a pocket full of stones. But the resurrected Woolf didn’t carry stones in his pockets, but his first editions. It was with these two books that two women got out of the embarrassing situation of no money in New York. Proof once again: writing can let women get out of trouble, at least get material freedom. At the same time, it also responded to Woolf’s statement in “A Room of One’s Own” that women should have their own ability to make money. The hat that Woolf bought in Turkey was a parody of an episode she had recorded in her diary: She wore a new hat and was excited to meet an old friend, only to be caught by Clive? The merciless ridicule of Bell and others left a shadow in his heart. Woolf has been reluctant to wear new clothes for fear of being laughed at. In this book, however, everyone praised the hat she wore was very appropriate, and that she was well-dressed, “beautiful like a poem”. And, mentioning her love for green, the wool dress she chose was olive green, etc. In Istanbul, Woolf had a romantic and physical relationship with a male hotel waiter, enjoyed sexual pleasure, and had an ambiguous encounter with a waitress. Readers who know Woolf know that she was sexually at odds with her husband because she was molested by her half-brother when she was young, and that she was considered aloof by those around her and by later critics. But the author let the returning Woolf experience the most primitive happiness of being a natural person, even if it is just a dewy relationship, let her put aside all taboos and enjoy the joy of fish and water boldly. These parodies reflect the deep understanding, sympathy, and sympathy of the female writers for the writers who are also females, and only among women.

Maggie Gee

  Maggie Gee, who describes herself as a Woolf fan, said: “Everyone who reads Woolf’s book sees themselves and their inner struggles.” She sees the book as ” A love letter to Woolf from the 21st century”, as Woolf wrote “Orlando” to close friend Weta? West’s love letter is the same. The plot and structure of “Wolf’s Walk in 21st Century Manhattan” are not complicated. Two cities and three women frame the entire novel, opening up a world of women. Men are either absent (such as Angela’s husband), Or only serve as an auxiliary function (such as a waiter), readers see more sisterhood: Woolf and Angela’s mutual assistance, Gerda and Lily’s friendship and selfless help, etc.; Mother-daughter inheritance: Woolf’s relationship with Angola, the influence of Angola on Gerda, etc. The combination of young Gerda, middle-aged Angela, and old Woolf is almost a woman’s life: ignorant and rebellious in her youth, family and career crises and entanglements in middle-aged, and fast-developing in her old age. The world’s worries, doubts, etc. In this sense, this book is not just dedicated to Woolf, but a love letter to all women.