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Book Review: The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives

7 December 2020

Eilish Mulholland, The Queen’s University of Belfast

Melanie Micir, The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019)

The history of Anglo-American modernism can feel monolithic in definition. Ranging from a plethora of guides, anthologies, curricula and collections to commemorative tea towels, mugs, tote bags and tell-all biographies, the understanding seems to be that modernism was formed by a group of definitive writers such as Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemmingway, James Joyce, W.H. Auden and Wallace Stevens. The history of modernism appears to be firmly settled in the form of articles, novels and critical commentary in which we come to know writers intimately. We know of their friends, family and lovers. We know from journals and letters every intimate detail about their lives. We know even where they visited and even what they ate and drank. These snippets of life and style are at first unassuming. Amid reading, writing and researching, amongst the frenzy of collating and connecting we fall into an assumption, an assumption that when it comes to a writer’s biography,we always assume that the information we desire will simply be there. Continue reading “Book Review: The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives”

Book Review: Square Haunting

Francesca Wade, Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars (Faber & Faber, 2020)

Elizabeth O’Connor, University of Birmingham

 ‘I like this London life . . . the street-sauntering and square-haunting.  

— Virginia Woolf’s diary, 1925

Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting follows the lives of five modernist women who called Bloomsbury’s Mecklenburgh Square home in the interwar years in Britain. Woolf’s 1925 confessional forms the book’s title and its basis, as Wade details her protagonists’ search for a ‘room of their own’ in London and wider society, and the ways in which such a place was central to their self-actualisation as women, artists and thinkers.

Continue reading “Book Review: Square Haunting”

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