Thursday, May 2, 2013

Virginia Woolf: The Diary Volume 4, Monday 29 February 1932

"And this morning I opened a letter: & it was from 'yours very sincerely J.J.Thompson" - the Master of Trinity;& it was to say that the council had decided to ask me to deliver the Clark lectures next year. Six of them. This, I suppose, is the first time a woman has been asked; & so it is a great honour - think of me, the uneducated child reading books in my room at 22 H.P.G - now advanced to this glory. But I shall refuse: because how could I write 6 lectures, to be delivered in full term, without giving a year to criticism; without becoming a functionary; without sealing my lips when it comes to tilting at Universities; without putting off my Knock at the Door; without perhaps shelving another novel...Yes; all that reading, I say, has borne this odd fruit".

As an aside Virginia's father Leslie Stephen gave the first Clark lectures in 1883, taking 18th century literature as his subject.

I wonder whether a modern university education would have spoiled or bettered Virginias writing?

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Virginia Woolf on Civilisation

The Diary Volume 4, Saturday 30 January, 1932

"Civilisation is the thickness of a postage stamp on the top of Cleopatra's needle; & time to come is the thickness of postage stamps as high as Mount Blanc".

Or civilisation is a very thin veneer to say the least.

A great metaphorical expression.

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