In 1937, the Chinese artist and writer Ling Shu Hua wrote to Virginia Woolf, asking for help writing her autobiography in English. She asked Woolf if she could call her ‘teacher’ or ‘tutor’, which some critics find strange as Ling was already a well-established and well-regarded writer in China. However, autobiography was not a typical form at that time in China, especially for women, while Woolf had spent much of her writing life thinking about how to best combine fact or everyday lives, and fiction in her work. This audio paper uses the correspondence between Woolf and Ling to explore what it means to use personal material in a way that reaches a universal audience, and in particular how modern technology through sonic compositions can help to convey spiritual depth in writing, essentially achieving the same kind of effect that Woolf felt she was not able to achieve in language during her writing life.
Text: Heidi Stalla. Sonic composition: Diana Chester. Voices: Cora Ceipek, Archondia Thanos, Cheung Hoi Shan, Rebecca Yuqi Huan, Thaddeus Cochrane, Olivia Macmillan-Scott.