[Vilhelm Hammershoi]

... thinking last night while reading my new biography of Virginia Woolf (Hermione Lee's), just how much of her life has been taken and made into art by others. Byatt's recent The Children's Book struck me as so similar in strange places -- at one point in Byatt's book the family is in Paris, visiting Rodin's studio -- as Virginia visited Rodin's studio just before her breakdown -- the scene described in Lee's biography rang so similar. Just an optical illusion?

The Hours was on the television this weekend and I stopped and watched four minutes before I was just frustrated by how awful Nicole Kidman was -- none of the warmth and frivolity and all nervy selfishness.

The biography is wonderful -- my knowledge of her life was restricted to the later diaries -- beginning around the time of the publication of To the Lighthouse -- so I missed out on all of the gossip-mongering about scandal and sex and illness. Lee is also admirably cool and clear about how easy it is to embellish VW's life into some coruscating mass of provocation and victimhood -- and how she wants to stay very far from that.