Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2018

Publication Title

Virginia Woolf Miscellany






The complex relation between bio and fiction, life and writing, is central to the project I am currently working on, a comparative scholarly edition of Man into Woman: An Authentic Record of a Change of Sex (1933), the life narrative of Lili Elbe, formerly Einar Wegener, the Danish artist who became Lili Elvenes (her legal name) through a series of surgeries in 1930. In chapter six, Andreas Sparre (the fictional name used for Wegener in the narrative) offers to tell his life story to his friends, Niels and Inger, on the night before his first surgery, his last night as Andreas. Niels responds, “I should like to suggest, if I am not hurting your feelings, that you let me take down in shorthand the curriculum vitae which you are about to relate” (57). Curriculum vitae means, in the original Latin, “the course of one’s life.” That curriculum vitae can stand in for “life story” is especially apropos for academics. Perpetually being asked for our CVs, as if to justify our existence, our lives as academics are literally in our writing. I can trace the history of my life’s writing through what I have written on that classic modernist life writing narrative, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. From my first publication when I was a graduate student in the 1980s to my 2013 essay in Modern Fiction Studies, I have been writing on Orlando my entire academic life. Yet, far from having nothing left to say, I am proposing to add yet another essay on Orlando to my academic life story. Prompted by the opportunity this special issue affords, I would like to reprise my latest publication on this perennially popular modernist narrative, in which I read Orlando in relation to Man into Woman. What might these works, both iconic narratives of the trans movement, tell us about the genre of biofiction?


Author Posting. © Southern Connecticut State University, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of SCSU for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in the Virginia Woolf Miscellany, 2018,

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.