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APART WITHOUT A FACE: ORLANDO AND THE CRYING GAME

Yet already he concludes, before the kaleidoscope of her expressions, before this face that from being all surface, smooth and waxed, passed to an almost fluid state of translucid gaiety and from the chiselled polish of an opal to the feverish black-red congestion of a cyclamen, that the Name is an example of a barbarous society’s primitivism, and as conventionally inadequate as “Homer” or “sea.”

Samuel Beckett, Proust, 1957

What kind of part is Orlando?

Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando in the fall of 1927 and finished it off that next March. It was Vita, she said to her diary, “Orlando: Vita”; others like Vita’s husband would say so too. That is to say, for the uninitiated, it was a character spun from her love for her Vita, a male character that suddenly would be transformed into a woman. In many ways this transformation would not be a change. Four centuries would come and go for Orlando,

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