The Curse of the English Lit Major

I have just got home from work. I should be cleaning or cooking or doing any number of boring yet essential household tasks, but all I want to do is sit and read Virginia Woolf for hours and hours, neglecting food and sleep and general domesticity. I want to immerse myself in the words and thoughts of this woman from the best part of a century ago, this woman who seems to be able to wield language as if the there is no distance between Word and experience.

She writes of a Sussex evening, and I am there:

“… one’s perceptions blow out rapidly like air balls expanded by some rush of air, and then, when all seems blown to its fullest and tautest, with beauty and beauty and beauty, a pin pricks; it collapses. But what is the pin? So far as I could tell, the pin had something to do with one’s impotency. I cannot hold this – I cannot express this – I am overcome by it – I am mastered. Somewhere in that region one’s discontent lay; and it was allied with the idea that one’s nature demands mastery over all that it receives; and mastery here meant the power to convey what one saw now over Sussex so that another person could share it. And further, there was another prick of the pin: one was wasting one’s chance; for beauty spread at one’s right hand, at one’s left; at one’s back too; it was escaping all the time; one could only offer a thimble to a torrent that could fill baths, lakes.”

I wish I could travel back in time to tell her that she has not failed, she has spoken to me and shared her thoughts with me and she has filled lakes in my mind with her writing. But also I feel as if she must have already known this, on some level, or she never would have set pen to paper at all.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Katherine Mansfield: “O you who come after me…” | Seriously Whimsical
  2. Trackback: These are the books I read in 2013: mini-reviews and highlights | Seriously Whimsical

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