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Roth, N. (1992). Who Killed Virginia Woolf? A Psychobiography: Alma Halbert Bond, Insight Books, Human Sciences Press, New York, NY, 1989, 200 pp., $19.95.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 20(3):494.

(1992). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 20(3):494

Who Killed Virginia Woolf? A Psychobiography: Alma Halbert Bond, Insight Books, Human Sciences Press, New York, NY, 1989, 200 pp., $19.95.

Review by:
Nathan Roth, M.D.

Bond's psychoanalytic biographical study of Virginia Woolf's suicide will immediately catch the eye of any psychoanalyst. Any feature of the Bloomsbury group holds much interest for the psychoanalyst not only because of the Hogarth Press, but particularly because of James and Alix Strachey who edited the major portion of the standard edition of Freud's writings.

Woolf's life was tumultuous indeed. “All her life VW was caught in the conflict between losing herself in the pleasure of oneness with mother and yielding to the clamorous organismic need to develop” (p. 30). She was “in alternating states of mania and depression, a dramatization of the rapprochement tragedy, the search for and loss of her mother” (p. 32). The author relates closely Woolf's creativity as a writer and the important relationships in her life. “I have lost the art,” she moaned, seven days before she took her life (p. 63). Her love affair with Vita Sackville-West “sparked the most creative period of Virginia's life” (p. 115), and enabled her to regain “the fountain of inspiration out of which her genius flowed” (p. 116), and which was first provided by her mother. In this she resembled Mary Wollstonecraft, an earlier woman writer who waxed most enthusiastic over mothering. However Woolf's disappointment in the important emotional relationships of her life led her to the impoverished state in which suicide beckoned. Bond's interpretation of the life of Virginia Woolf is not only artistically aesthetic, but psychoanalytically very sound and cogent.

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