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Watch Patti Smith read from Virginia Woolf’s 1931 experimental novel The Waves

Punk rock icon Patti Smith reading segments from Virginia Woolf’s 1931 experimental novel The Waves is an absolute blessing.

The reading opened Smith’s 2008 Paris exhibit which chronicled her art and photography from 1965-2007.

This video of Patti Smith reading from Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves on the 67th anniversary of her suicide in 2008 is a true punk-rock rendition of a troubled 19th century Victorian writer.

Smith reads the passages as a dramatic monologue, accompanied with a filmic-like score by her daughter Jesse on piano and her son Jackson on guitar.

Reading on the 67th anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s suicide, Smith opens by saying, “I believe that she made this decision consciously, it is what she needed to do as a human being, and so I do not think of this as sad.”

She mixes her own voice in with Woolf’s, so that it is neither one or the other but a collision of the two. The worlds of the two feminist auteurs collided in the past when Smith titled her 1979 album – the one she made just before her semi-retirement in the ’80s – Wave. 

Woolf’s novel The Waves follows six characters, together representative of one voice.

The two writers come from very different worlds. Virginia Woolf was born into a wealthy family in South Kensington in London in the 1800s. Patti Smith was born into a working-class family in Chicago in the 1940s. But they were both kind of punk in their time.

Via Open Culture.

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January 2, 2019