[Vwoolf] bungalows and villas

Stuart N. Clarke stuart.n.clarke at btinternet.com
Wed Feb 26 07:40:46 EST 2020

This poster says it all (from Woolf’s pov).


From: Sarah M. Hall via Vwoolf 
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2020 12:35 PM
To: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu ; Jeremy Hawthorn 
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] bungalows and villas

Woolf certainly meant it in the pejorative sense. I always think of her hyperbolic description of Little Talland House in Firle:

‘This is not a cottage, but a hideous suburban villa — I have to prepare people for the shock.’ 

(Letter 582, 31 August 1911)

Actually the house is a perfectly acceptable semi, but was obviously a lot newer in Woolf's time.

Sarah M. Hall
Virginia Woolf Society of GB

On Wednesday, 26 February 2020, 12:22:24 GMT, Jeremy Hawthorn via Vwoolf <vwoolf at lists.osu.edu> wrote: 

Re the recent exchange about VW's view of bungalows. In The Waves Neville says: "Alas! I could not ride about India in a sun helmet and return to a bungalow." I used to assume that he meant "retire to a bungalow in England," but Woolf doubtless knew that the word is of Indian (Hindi) origin, so the imagined bungalow is presumably in India not the home counties, and returned to not on retirement but at close of day.

Another tricky dwelling term is "villa," a word that seems largely to have dropped out of (Real) Estate jargon in the UK, but that survives in many road names ("Riverside villas" etc etc). Again in The Waves, Jinny says "Look – all the windows of the villas and their white-tented curtains dance [. . .]. There are bowers and arbours in these villa gardens  and young men in shirt-sleeves on ladders trimming roses." I again used to think that these would be gardeners working for posh families: my Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary gives among other definitions: "a large house in a town" for "villa." The old SOED also gives "country house or farm, country mansion or residence . . . hence any residence of a superior type . . . such as is occupied by a person of the middle class," but it adds: "also any small better-class dwelling house, usu. one which is detached or semi-detached." I take it that this is what Jinny sees: the men in shirt-sleeves are middle-class owner-occupiers, not of large houses or country mansions, but of small(ish) houses with gardens. Right?

Jeremy Hawthorn
Emeritus Professor
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
7491 Trondheim
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