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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Virginia Woolf, for us

I wrote Virginia Woolf that “since Jane Austen became known, (criticism) has not stopped muttering nonsense in chorus (…). It is extremely frustrating not to hear Jane Austen speak in her own voice when she debates whether she behaved like a lady, whether she was sincere, whether she could read, or whether she had experience hunting foxes. We must remember about Jane Austen that she wrote novels. “It would be worth it if her literary critics read them sometime.” That was Woolf. Feminist, vindictive, ironic, cultivated, companion, metaphorical, earthly. Through these words about Austen, he emphasized to what extent female literary talent has been undervalued throughout history, with the aim of causing a change of course, of perspective. Woolf wrote for her predecessors, and she did so for us. To contribute to the development towards a more just society, in which a writer was known by her word, and not so much by her composure.

Woolf “is an author who is always getting wet, expressing her opinion, which may or may not be wrong 80 years later, but of which she is proud, and claims that she only expresses her opinion,” explains translator Rafael Accorinti. Born in Argentina and living in Spain since he was little, he has been in charge of carrying out, with the help of Páginas de Espuma, a task as ambitious, attractive and complex as translating Woolf. The result is «The narrow bridge of art. Literary essays», a volume that, for the first time in Spanish, brings together the author’s famous lessons on the art of fiction and biography. In this set of essays, Woolf’s discourse is deduced regarding the proper path that is literature, and she does so through the metaphor of “The narrow bridge of art”: she reflects on the journey that the writer must take while deciding what to take from his predecessors and what to offer to his contemporaries. From there, Woolf “divides her theory into two aspects, which are the art of fiction and that of biography,” says Accorinti.

Of these essays, some were unpublished in Spanish, as is the case of “Women and Fiction.” This is a speech that Woolf gave at the women’s university center at the University of Cambridge, and in which the author reflected her pleasure “in encouraging women to begin to develop themselves in the verbal and visual arts, as well as in other unions,” says the translator. This speech moved him so much that, later, “it would become the germ of his best-known essay: ”A Room of One’s Own””Accorinti continues, “it is something very curious that it has not yet been translated into Spanish, because if we look at the first paragraphs they are very similar to how that book begins.” With this, Woolf wrote, above all, to encourage the women of her time and, in the long run, we continue to turn to her. For this reason, the translator explains that, in her work, she decided to use the feminine generic (“us”), “because I thought about who these essays were directed to.” Something that has not occurred, until now, in Woolf’s work translated into Spanish, and that makes us connect even more with her thoughts.

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