Godrevy Lighthouse Virginia Woolf Essays

The author's army of fans, known as Woolfians, have now taken up the fight against the development, with many saying they are writing to the local authority to object.

• Virginia Woolf and her garden: in pics

They claim the proposal would spoil a location which is part of a pilgrimage that all lovers of Virginia Woolf are encouraged to make - a feature that draws visitors, tourists and literary enthusiasts to the area from all over the world.

Paula Maggio, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, US, said that word about the plans had gone out worldwide.

She said Woolfians around the world had been galvanised into action the issue was raised on the online forum of the International Virginia Woolf Society (IVWS).

Paula has also posted a piece about the development on her own blog, widely read by fans of Virginia Woolf, called Blogging Woolf.

She said: "The IVWS is also enlisting the help of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain.

"Our hope is that these efforts will grow quickly and influence Cornwall Council to turn down Portminster Beach View Ltd.'s ill-advised construction plan to build six flats and install a car park near Talland House.

"Some Woolfians are using social media to spread the word and have already sent emails to the Cornwall Council planning department."

Erin M Kingsley, an assistant professor of English and online lecturer at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, is among those to have objected to Cornwall Council.

She said: "Virginia Woolf writes in such a lovely, lilting, ephemeral manner that it is absolutely captivating to those of us who like to mull on about things like life, death, the nature of history, of memory, the quick passing of time, the inescapability of someday being forgotten.

The Godrevy lighthouse as viewed from Talland House (Apex)

"Plus her classic essays on the strict sex and gender roles in Western society continually bring in a new retinue of devoted feminist followers."

Jillian Clare, of Brisbane, Australia, said she has written to Cornwall Council to object to "the ill-conceived planned development" that will "forever ruin the views from the house".

She said: "I'm from Australia but have been to Cornwall and visited the many sites of special significance to VW and her novels. It is a pilgrimage that all lovers of VW make in their lifetime if they can.

"Why? Because VW is the most outstanding English novelist of the twentieth century and perhaps of all time in terms of her extraordinary use of language. And 'To the Lighthouse' is one of her most outstanding and brilliant novels.

"To the Lighthouse' was inspired by her many visits to St Ives, Cornwall, while staying at Talland House, and the constant presence of Godrevy Lighthouse and the views of the sea were of profound significance.

"The whole St Ives area, the house, the gardens leading down to the sea, the sea itself, and that ever present lighthouse form the heart of what was her most successful novel at the time she, Leonard, and Vanessa published it through Hogarth Press (1927).

"To destroy this is impossible to imagine. And for what? A block of flats and a car park."

Initially, plans for a single-storey car park had been agreed at the site. However, the proposed block of flats are now under Cornwall Council's consideration.

St Ives Town Council has said it has no objection to the development, providing that the flats are developed in the winter to alleviate traffic problems.

The application was submitted on May 8 by the company Portminster Beach View Ltd and is due to be decided by Cornwall Council at a meeting later this month.

I love punctuation; I’m a nut about it. I read it as carefully as I do words, measuring  flow and rhythm, looking for meaning between the dots and dashes.

So a recent blog post got my attention—the author wanted to see if novels could be distinguished by their punctuation. A kindred spirit, he believes punctuation is a fundamental part of writing.

Adam J. Calhoun compares Faulkner’s Absolom, Absolom! with Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. The differences are visible and as striking as one would expect. Blood Meridian consists mostly of short, crisp sentences—seen as several consecutive periods with no intervening marks, breaks of an occasional comma, a dash here and there, more periods. The punctuation in Absalom, Absalom! looks the way Faulkner reads: he uses everything he can get his hands on, with lots of commas and far fewer periods. The author of this study calls it “statements within statements within statements.”

He adds other novels to his discussion. Surely, I thought, he’ll include Woolf! But no, he mentions Ulysses, Pride & Prejudice, A Farewell to Arms, and a few others. I couldn’t leave it there. A few years ago I wrote an essay about punctuation and drew from To the Lighthouse to demonstrate Woolf’s creative use of punctuation; I had some data to add to the picture.

To his visual comparisons of Faulkner’s and McCarthy’s textless text, I add a brief example from To the Lighthouse:

”   ,   ,   ,   ”   .   ”   ,   ”   .    ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   .   ,   ,

,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   .   .   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   —   ,   ,

,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   .   ”   ,   ”  ,   ,   ”   .   ”   ,   ,   ,   ,   .

;   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ( )   ,   .   .   .   ;   ;   ,   ,   ,   ,   ;   ;

This is just the first few paragraphs (I did several pages) but you get the idea. Woolf’s sentences skip and dance and weave with runs of commas; there are eleven of them in a 100-word sentence on the first page. You rarely see two periods (simple sentences) in a row. She peppers her prose (more evident in a more extensive sampling) with semicolons, dashes, parentheses, exclamation marks and ellipses.

Blood Meridian averages 15 words per sentence, Absalom 40, Lighthouse (in my sampling) 34, Farewell to Arms 10. Ursula LeGuin says of Hemingway: “He had many guns, several spouses, and a beard. He wrote short sentences.”

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