Tag Archives: Orlando

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and the country house

My blog post on Woolf’s Orlando is now available on the OUP blog:


The source for the quotations from Angela Carter is a YouTube video of Tom Paulin’s notorious J’accuse programme about Woolf. The two parts available are labelled as parts 2 and 3, but I’ve not been able to find part 1 anywhere:



Angela Carter’s contribution comes just after 1m 27s in “part 2”; I’d first come across the ‘slobbering valentine’ bit in a newspaper review of the programme.  I must admit I’ve not watched both parts: the arguments are so tendentious that it’s hard to take seriously: for example, Clarissa Dalloway’s patriotic statement in The Voyage Out is offered as if it reflects its author’s views (which it obviously does not); the error in the reading is acknowledged, and then Paulin ploughs on regardless, treating a piece of unpleasantness in the diaries as if it rescued his argument about Clarissa.


Podcast: An Introduction to Orlando (1928), by Virginia Woolf

Podcast: An Introduction to Orlando (1928), by Virginia Woolf

I’ve uploaded an MP3 of an introductory lecture on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I was invited to give the lecture by the producer of a theatrical adaptation of it at Keble College; as the audience was reckoned to consist mostly of school pupils (presumably sixth-form), the lecture tries not to assume much familiarity with Woolf or the novel.  I begin with biographical background about Virginia and Vita, go on to narrate their relationship, and mention Logan Pearsall Smith as background to Nick Greene / Sir Nicholas Greene;  I then talk about genre (biography and fantasy), discover I’ve left far too little time to talk about sexuality, and conclude by addressing Angela Carter’s accusation that it’s ‘an orgy of snobbery’, caught up in the ideological myth of the English country house.

I hadn’t had an opportunity to see the play — and sadly, due to other commitments, wasn’t able to — so it doesn’t discuss that at all.

It’s all largely improvised, and two-thirds through when I’m discussing Sally Potter’s film adaptation, I completely forget Tilda Swinton’s name.