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The Rise of the Memoir$
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Alex Zwerdling

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755784.001.0001

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Mastering the Memoir

Mastering the Memoir

Woolf and the Family Legacy

(p.58) 3 Mastering the Memoir
The Rise of the Memoir

Alex Zwerdling

Oxford University Press

Virginia Woolf transformed her paternal family’s legacy of memorializing their public and private lives, the first for print, the second for private circulation within the family. Woolf shifted the ground from male achievement to private experience, including the territory of family conflicts. It became a lifelong project, first in polished pieces for an empathetic audience of friends, relatives, and close allies calling itself the Memoir Club and eager to share the record of their liberation from Victorian standards, later in private documents like “A Sketch of the Past,” written for herself rather than others, permitting her to record the legacy of shame and grief buried in her own family history, in the hope that some later version might reach an empathetic audience like the one Rousseau hoped to find.

Keywords:   family legacy, patriarchal entitlement, women’s lives, Memoir Club, imagined audience

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