Sunday, December 28, 2008

November 14 - December 17, 2008

A Room of One's Own
Virginia Woolf
1957, paperback

Until now I've never read any of Virginia Woolf's books, but luckily the exhibition A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections is changing that. Woolf is an amazing writer and what she wrote in first part of the 20th century bears just as much relevance and importance in the 21st. Woolf's thinking aloud through her writing allows the reader to gain from the path she walks. I find her to be an exemplary companion, I just need to find more quiet corners to spend with her writing so I don't become the skimmer of surfaces she mentions.

Some excerpts:
4- "a woman must have money and a room of her own is she is to write fiction"
13-14- "It is strange how a scrap of poetry works in the mind and makes the legs more in time to it along the road."
-"But the living poets express a feeling that is actually being made and torn out of us at the moment."
15- "My heart is gladder than all these Because my love is come to me?"
18- "a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
24- "I pondered this and that, as one does at the end of the day's work."
35- "What effect had poverty on fiction? What conditions are necessary for the creation of works of art?"
27- "Why are women, judging from this catalogue, so much more interesting to men than men are to women?"
30- (footnote 1- Dr. Johnson) "Men know that women are an overmatch for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or the most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves."
31-32- "Drawing pictures was an idle way of finishing an unprofitable morning's work. Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top."
34- "When I read what he wrote about women I thought, not of what he was saying, but of himself."
36- "mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action"
53- " write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer's mind whole and entire. Generally material circumstances are against it...Further, accentuating all these difficulties and making them harder to bear is the world's notorious indifference. It does not ask people to write poems and novels and histories; it does not need them...Naturally it will not pay for what it does not want."
54- "If anything comes through in spite of all this, it is a miracle, and probably no book is born entire and uncrippled as it was conceived."
57- "The history of men's opposition to women's emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself."
68-69- "For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice."
70- (Mrs. Nightingale) "Women never had a half hour...that they can call their own."
79- "Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."
80- "Moreover, a book is not made of sentences laid end to end but of sentences built, if an image helps, into arcades or domes."
83- "She may be beginning to use writing as an art, not as a method of self-expression. Among these new novels one might find an answer to several such questions."
93- "Above all, you must illumine your own soul with its profundities and its shallows, and its vanities and its generosities, and say what your beauty means to you or your plainness, and what is your relation to the every changing and turning world of gloves and shows and stuffs swaying up and down among the faint scents that come through chemists' bottles down arcades of dress material over a floor of pseudomarble."
94-95- "Be truthful, one would say, and the result if bound the be amazingly interesting. Comedy is bound to be enriched."
97- "that she was not a skimmer of surfaces merely, but had looked beneath into the depths."
101- "Clearly the mind is always altering its focus, and bringing the world into different perspectives."
110 - "so long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters..."
115- "...much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people...Think of things in themselves."
117- "A thousand pens are ready to suggest what you should do and what effect you will have."
-"...for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh"
118- " work, even in poverty and obscurity is worth while"

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