In this course, we will explore collaboratively two works of Virginia Woolf’s later period. Orlando is a mixture of history and fantasy inspired by Woolf’s love interest Vita Sackville-West. It romps through three centuries of British history with characters who never seem to age and who become embroiled in many amazing escapades. Orlando begins as a young page to Queen Elizabeth I, falls in love with a Russian princess, and eventually is transformed into a woman who marries a pilot. Exciting stuff! Lots of Woolfian humor and erudite verbiage—and plenty to please feminists as well. Tilda Swinton stars in a very good movie version of Orlando.
Between the Acts was Woolf’s last work, and true to her exploration of diverse genres of writing, it combines drama and a fictional narrative. It too is a kind of quick run-through of British history, as created and performed at a country pageant with complicated hosts. I look forward to digging into these works with other Woolf fans.