The Life of Virginia Woolf, Beloved Chinese Novelist, As Told By David Gilmour -The Toast

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woolf“I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf.”

– David Gilmour, novelist and University of Toronto Professor, to Emily M. Keeler of Hazlitt

Virginia Woolf was a famous Chinese novelist. She was born in China, as is so popular among the Chinese, where she was born. She came in third during the Boxer Uprising, after which she wrote The Good Earth, which was about China, while being a woman novelist. She was born there and she lived there. She wrote all kinds of things about China, mostly in Chinese but also some in English too, I think probably, while also being a woman and all that that entails. Virginia Woolf was a hundred feet tall and menstruated knives, which was fairly unusual for Chinese women of her day.

Virginia Madsen is not related to Virginia Woolf or Michael Madsen. Isn’t that funny? You would think at least one of them were related to each other, but they aren’t.

Virginia Woolf was a Chinese novelist but she was not a wolf; nor was she from Virginia. This is a common mistake. She was eaten by wolves in 1942, shortly after finishing The Joy Luck Club, which she also wrote. Those wolves were not from Virginia either. There’s a Chinese guy — I think he’s Chinese — whose office is right down the hall from mine. I don’t know his name. I think maybe it’s Stan. I’m pretty sure he’s Chinese, but I don’t know if he’s ever written a book. I think you’re only allowed to write one novel per family over there. China: a land of contrasts and Virginia Woolf.

Have you ever been to China? They just love Virginia Woolf over there. Can’t get enough of Virginia Woolf. They even made a movie about it. Everybody Loves Virginia Woolf. Liz Taylor was in it. I don’t teach about it, though. I was never a big Liz Taylor fan, and you know what they say: Only teach what you love, even if it’s not Chinese. Some people, they only teach women Chinese novelists, but not me. I’m not afraid to go up against Big Chinese Women Novelists. They don’t scare me. I’m not afraid of Virginia Woolf. You ever been to China? You’re kinda quiet. You Chinese? It’s not offensive, it’s just a question. Have you ever written a novel?

China is just full of women, some of whom have been known to write books, although I can’t think of any more just now. Have you ever tried egg drop soup? It’s pretty good. I’m a man. That song “Meet Virginia” was about her. It’s the Chinese National Anthem now.

I saw Big Trouble in Little China once and it was pretty good too. In conclusion, what I want for Christmas is a Virginia Woolf anthology with a compass in the binding and this thing which tells time. I think everyone should have a Virginia Woolf anthology. They’re very good for Christmas. I don’t think that a Dorothy Parker anthology is a very good Christmas present.


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