Monday, March 28, 2011

Rest in Peace: Virginia Woolf - Jan. 25, 1882 - March 28, 1941

When opinions are expressed as to which novelist of the twentieth century had the greatest achievement, the names Marcel Proust and James Joyce are invariably mentioned. Virginia Woolf's name should always be mentioned as well. At times when I was reading The Waves I actually felt -- because of the extended extreme concentration required, I guess --  that my own consciousness had been subsumed by that of Virginia Woolf (the assumed narrator of the novel); this sensation was so real as to be frightening; it seemed vaguely related to the mind-altering experience of mescaline ... far out, man.

It's unimaginable to me that anyone has delved deeper into consciousness with words than Virginia Woolf; her literary achievements must, in my humble opinion, be considered as great as those of anyone.

For decades upon decades I've copied words of various authors which I loved into various journals or daybooks; I'm not certain but I think the very first quote I copied was from Virginia Woolf: My mind runs hither and thither with its veil of words for everything.

Seventy years ago today she left a note for her husband:

Dearest, I feel certain that 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 'til 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. 

Adding weight to her thin frame by filling her pockets with stones, she then walked into a river close by the Woolf's country home. Twenty-one days later, downriver, her body was discovered. She was cremated; her ashes were spread on the lawn of the that home she'd loved; it was near Rodmell, England. 

1 comment:

  1. That bloody ghastly childhood of hers..."a prey to any `wild beast' who chose to harm her" she wrote in A Sketch from the Past.

    That wondrous mind hiding within herself...protecting it from the actuality of that house, that Victorian horror, that fear...

    That Virginia...we can't take stones from pockets, however we can we can we can...send love to the one who walked with the heavy pockets..

    My mind runs hither and thither with its veil of words for everything...I could look at that sentence for hours...

    That voice: