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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Grey Wolf

The answer to that question is: everybody.

For one thing, people don’t like authors whose last names are impossible to spell correctly: is it Wolf, Woolf, Woolfe, or Wooolf?

Plus, there seems to be that lingering question about whether Virginia Woolf is or is not on the endangered species list and whether or not she can be shot on sight in certain western states.

No self-respecting rancher reads such books as Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and Orlando because “the author of those books is eating out cattle.” Others say Virginia Woolf  is, obviously, an eastern predator and/or that no westerner would want to read an entire novel about a central-Florida city.

People of my generation, and that includes ranchers who are almost too old to ride a horse, fondly remember Virginia Woolf’s excellent job of acting in the bio-epic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. “She might have been a Liz Taylor clone, but she knew how to act.” Either Taylor or Woolf was married to Richard Burton on more than one occasion. It was hard to keep track in thos pre-Internet days.

True crime writer Megan Abbott (The End of Everything), in a recent interview on The Rap Sheet explained her shift from reading classics to more ramped-up novels with the quip: “How many times can you talk about Virginia Woolf before you want to kill yourself?”

Virginia Woolf

I really can’t answer that. For one thing, due to the mix-ups about her name and predator status, Woolf really doesn’t come up in conversations very often. In fact, I can go for months without hearing anything about Virginia Woolf. The last time I mentioned Woolf in  a bar, a guy drunk  on shooters said, “she took a bite out of my nephew’s puppy up in Richmond.” I said I was sorry to hear that.

These days, the vicissitudes of reading tastes have led people to read more about werewolfs than Virgina Woolfs (or should that be wolves?) Misinformation being the currency of the Internet, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to get a viral campaign started that alledges Virginia Woolf did not kill herself in 1941. Weather historians have determined that there was a full moon on the night she drowned and, chances are, she became a shapeshifter and that we all have a very good reason to be afraid of Virginia Woolf.

This is pure speculation on my part. Wolves are generally feared for scatterbrained reasons, and Virginia is no exception. As kids, none of whom have heard of Virginia Woolf are fond of keying into their text messages when they make an important point: Just saying. . .


In addition to his contemporary fantasy adventure novels Sarabande and The Sun Singer, Malcolm R. Campbell is also the author of the comedy/satire Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. Campbell maintains that there is no reason to be afraid of any of his books except, perhaps, Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey which has a lot to say about wolves and wolfers.

  1. Virginia doesn’t come up around here: we have a lot of our own “wolfs” to argue about.

    August 20, 2011
    • There’s not a lot of talk about her around here either except when the movie first came out. The movie “Never Cry Wolf” was also big even though there aren’t many wolves in GA.

      August 20, 2011

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