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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Virginia Woolf

Wow! I wanted to write this since such a long time and finally its here on my blog. A tribute to my favorite author Virginia Woolf (VW) I would like to have three posts as a series....first I would like to introduce VW. In second, I would like to talk about one of her famous writing "Mrs.Dalloway" and in the third; I would like to speak about a movie called "The Hours" which is based on her and the novel Mrs. Dalloway as well. And of course all these three posts will behold the reasons why I am a big fan of her and her works.

So here I go -


VW - some see her life as gift to literature, some as a fight for women rights and some as a struggle with mental illness. But for me VW's life is a story of immense strength and courage against the worst experiences of life and understanding of thin line between sanity and insanity.

She was born on Jan 25th 1882. Both, her father and mother had children from previous marriages. VW's growing up years was very traumatic with series of deaths. Her mother died when she was 13 followed by death of her step sister Stella. (Who looked after the kids after their mother’s death) Her brother Thoby who is believed to be very dear to VW died when she was young. VW had her first depression soon after her mother‘s death. And added to the grief of these deaths, one of her step brothers sexually harassed her, which probably is the biggest reason behind her disinterest in sex through out her life.

In spite of these mental tensions, in spite of few attempts of suicide, in spite of the pain VW's literary work is a piece of genius. But she was always angry about the fact that women had no formal education during her time.

And she quotes thus,

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

Her book, "Room Of Ones Own" is completely based on this were she tries to argue the injustice at that time.

VW wrote many novels, short stories and essays. Among them Mrs. Dalloway is my favorite, about which I will talk about, in my next post. One of her short story- "Lady in the looking Glass -A Reflection" inspired me into a new world of writing that I never used or had read.

"The Legacy" is another story which probably is very easy to understand as compared to her other stories. I say that because, VW uses a style of writing that is not very common. It is called- "Stream of consciousness." Which is a literary technique that presents the thoughts and feelings of a character as they occur. Our mind isn’t stuck to one thought or event, it drifts from one instant to other, randomly; well these thoughts are collected as it is in her novels. So you would normally find her characters go through a lot of thought process and the image from their mind is displayed through magic of words.

VW's brother Thoby, began a get together at home, where he invited his friends from Cambridge, most of them were famous poets, writers or artist. Think of a time, when like minded people, with great literary background, sit in a room, sipping a cup of coffee or tea and discuss about their work, review each others writing, comment on politics or speak about anything that exists or doesn’t. VW enjoyed these talks a lot and of course who wouldn't love to talk for hours with like minded people? When ever I read an article on the group, I am so excited and wish that I had been a part of it too. This group is popularly known as the Bloomsbury group.

Depressions never come for one time and go away. They are not something that you fight once and then get rid off. They keep reoccurring again and again during lonely times. One needs to fight it till the end. So that’s what VW did, she fought it till the age of 51, bravely until finally one day she thought she had to choose death. This is why I see her life not as a failure but a success for 51 years. Definitely one would not have survived those years for such a long time and over that create wonderful works of literature and make a name out of her life, that the coming generation will read, discuss and write about, just like in this article.

VW left a note to her husband before she walked into the river near her house in Susex, which read -


Dearest,
I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be.

I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that - everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.

V.

I can just go on for ever like this about her life. But then there needs to be an end for this post :-) So I would like to just say that VW, her life, Movie "The Hours" and the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" became an inspiration to me; to fight my battles in life and understand life with a new perspective.

Closing with some quotes by VW -

" I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in. "

" If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. "

" It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses. "

" On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points. "

" Really I don't like human nature unless all candied over with art. "

" Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title. "

" Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works. "

" Sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life. "

4 comments:

  1. hi ..Just showed up to let you know me still alive ... :)
    Will read again and comment on sunday ...I see that I have lots to read ....

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  2. I haven't had the chance to read the complete post, but I can tell you're a great fan of Virginia Woolf. Will surely take the time out to read the complete post. Great quotes....

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  3. Bharath- Thanks for stopping by...havent seen any new posts on your blog...wer r u friend?

    Reborn- Good to see you around...thought you were lost in Bangalore...How do you find the city?

    Travel Plaza- Thanks, Yes I am a big fan of her. Her life is very interesting and her work inspires me a lot.

    ReplyDelete

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