Thursday, February 28, 2013

Times Review of The Waves 1931

The Diary Volume 4, Thursday 8 October, 1931

"Really, this unintelligible book is being better 'received' than any of them. A note in The Times proper - the first time this has been allowed me. And it sells - how unexpected, how odd that people can read that difficult grinding stuff!".
This is, of course, referring to the publication of The Waves. An excerpt from The Times, 9 October 1931 says: 'Like some old Venetian craftsman in glass, Mrs Woolf spins the coloured threads, and with exquisite, intuitive sensibility fashions ethereal frailties of enduring quality'.

The Waves stands as my favourite Woolf book alongside Mrs Dalloway.

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Moments of Being - a Comparison between Virginia Woolf and Graeme Swift

I thought I would share this excellent paper by Irina-Ana Drobot who is a PhD candidate and lecturer at the Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania. Drobot states that the aim of the paper is to:
find “moments of being” in Graham Swift and compare them with those found in Virginia Woolf. The definition Woolf gives to moments of being will be examined, with the way Swift’s similar ones fit in this definition. The views of other theorists on aspects of moments of being, theories of perception, and the literary context each author belongs to will also be taken into account. The paper will point out common features and also what causes moments of being in Swift and Woolf, among which connections between character and natural world hid reality.

This paper is an excellent gateway into the works of Graham Swift for those who are acquanied with Virginia Woolf's works (and vice versa).

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Woolf at Ease

The Diary Volume 4, Sat 19 September 1931

"But O - again - how happy I am: how calm, for the moment how sweet life is with L. here, in its regularity & order, & the garden & the room at night & music & my walks & writing easily & interestedly at Donne of a morning, & poems all about me. I've come to read poetry with intensity - bought Skelton at Tunbridge Wells".

It is nice when Virginia is happy. I noticed for the first time here her use (erratic) of the Oxford comma. She uses it twice in the excerpt above.

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In Search of the Mythical Lanchester

I have been intrigued in reading Volume 4 of the Diaries to see the love the Woolf's had for cars. They purchased a new Lanchester car and toured Italy in it. This was a sign of their wealth. has anyone heard of the Lanchester make before? I will do some searching.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Woolf on Elizabethan Prose

The Diary Volume 4 3 September 1931

"By the way, Elizabethan prose is magnificent: & all that I love most at the moment...I read Montaigne this morning & found a passage about the passions of women - their voracity - which I at once opposed to Squire's remarks & so made up a whole chapter of my Tap at the Door or whatever it is, just when I was hoping to let my mind slide off on to a second Common reader, & the Elizabethans...I open this book again to record the fact that this is the 3rd of September. The battle of Dunbar: the battle of Worcester, & the death of Cromwell."

I like the hooks that she puts into history here, another piece of evidence for her own, well tuned, sense of time and of history.

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Virginia Woolf on Biography

The Diary Vol 4 Sunday 16 August 1931

"It is a good idea I think to write biographies; to make them use my powers of representation reality accuracy; & to use my novels simply to express the general. the poetic. Flush is serving this purpose."

I am enjoying Virginia's biography of Roger Fry at the moment.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quiet and Control plus Eating Apples

The Diary Volume 4 Monday 10 August 1931

"No I will not let this day be a bad one, though it has every sign of so being...No, I say, I will not let this day be a bad one: but by what means? Quiet & control. Eating apples - sleeping this afternoon. Thats all. And now for Waves."

Well they say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away!! I'm not sure that I could live life at the pace that Virginia did.

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Virginia Woolf - the Weekly Black Hole

The Diary Volume 4 Sunday 3 May 1931

"But now, say I have a 3 months lap ahead of me: the 3 summer months. What shall I do? We are going to 'regulate' seeing people. There is to be a weekly black hole; a seething mass of people all eating tea together. We shall thus have more evenings free. In those evenings I intend to walk; to read, Elizabethans; to be mistress of my soul. Yes. And I intend to investigate Edinburgh & Stratford on Avon. Also to finish off The Waves in a dashing masterly manner. D H Lawrence has given me much to think about - about writing for writings sake."

Still the Woolf's are inundated with visitors. This must have been a hell to VW when she was unwell. It is clear from her diaries that Woolf was an avid reader. To write well one must read well. By the way does anyone know what the DH Lawrence article or book was the she is mentioning?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Virginia Woolf - A Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) reference

Diary Volume 4 Monday 27 April 1931

"Saw the high unroofed room in wh. Jeanne stood before the King. The very chimney place perhaps. Walls cut through by thin windows. Suddenly one looks down, down on roofs. How did the Middle Ages get through the evenings? A stone crypt in wh. J. lived: people carve their names everywhere. River silken serpentine beneath. Liked the stone roofless rooms; & the angular cut windows. Sat on the steps to hear 2 struck by the clock wh. has rung since the 13th century: which J. heard. Rusty toned. What did she think? Was she mad? a visionary coinciding with the right moment".

Woolf has a very vivid connection with person, place and time which is seen in all of her writings. The sense of being where Jeanne d'Arc was seeing and hearing the same things forges a palpable connection. This makes her writing very rich and interesting.

(Note: It was in the grand salle of the Chateau du Milieu at Chinon on 9 March 1429 that Jeanne d'Arc recognised Charles VII concealed among his courtiers.)

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Virginia Woolf and the French Renaissance

The Diary Volume 4 Saturday 25 April, 1931

This excerpt from Virginia's diary describes a visit to the castle of Montaigne a French Renaissance philosopher and writer and an early essayist.

>"A woman came. Took us up narrow stone steps, worn; opened thick nail studded door. This is his bedroom; this is his dressing room. Here he died. Here he went down - he was very small - to chapel. Upstairs again is his library. The books & furniture are at Bordeaux. Here is his chair & table. He wrote those inscriptions on the beams. Sure enough it was his room; a piece of an old modern chair may be his."

It is interesting to see tghat Virginia could also be a literary tourist, so would understand the fixation many of her followers have for looking at where she, herself, lived and wrote.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

A New Vision of Death - Indescribable

The Diary Volume 3, Tuesday 23 November 1926

"Life is as I've said since I was 10, awfully interesting - if anything, quicker, keener at 44 than 24 - more desperate I suppose, as the river shoots to Niagara - my new vision of death; active, positive, like all the rest, exciting; & of great importance - as an experience. 'The one experience I shall never describe', I said to Vita yesterday."

Of course that last statement is a truth. You can not describe your own death.

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Walking on the Downs

The Diary Volume 3, 5 September 1926

"Then, I am extremely happy walking on the downs. I don't want to be talking to Eddy at Charleston. I like to have space to spread my mind out in."

Virginia Woolf was a great walker and we see this many times in the Diaries. The walking allowed her to exercise her mind as well as her body. I have been impressed in reading this volume of how busy Virginia's life was. There appears to be a steady stream of visitors some wanted and some a nuisance. This social "noise" weighed heavily on Virginia and the chance to get away from it all and walk on the Downs was a great relief.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Virginia Woolf - The Married Relation

The Diary Volume 3 - Monday 2 August 1926

"Arnold Bennett says that the horror of marriage lies in its 'dailiness'. All acuteness of relationship is rubbed away by this. the truth is more like this. Life - say 4 days out of 7 - becomes automatic; but on the 5th day a bead of sensation (between husband & wife) forms, wh. is all the fuller & more sensitive because of the automatic customary unconscious days on either side. That is to say the year is marked by moments of great intensity. Hardy's 'moments of vision'. How can a relationship endure for any length of time except under these conditions?."
I concur with Woolf rather than Bennett on this one. Having been married for over 36 years myself I have experienced both the automatic customary and unconscious days as well as the moments of great intensity. DK

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Virginia Woolf a Breakdown quote

The Diary Volume 3 - Saturday 31 July 1926
"Thought of my own power of writing with veneration, as of something incredible, belonging to someone else; never again to be enjoyed by me."
This was written during a nervous breakdown in miniature as she describes it. There is a level of psychological dissociation contained in this passage.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Virginia Woolf on H.G. Wells - Drowsy at 60

The Diary Volume 3 - Sunday 4 July 1926
Then Wells came again; & stayed till 4, when he had to meet an American. He is getting to the drowsy stage: the 60s. Seems well wishing but not so spry as he used to be. He talked about his new book, the thoughts one has at 60."

This is an interesting observation and one that today seems out of place. Today's 60 year olds are a more vibrant breed. Woolf in her late 40s was already considering herself to be getting old. As a fit and active 57 year old myself I do not anticipate being drowsy at 60, though I do remember that my grandparents appeared to be very old at that age.

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