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Virginia Woolf (Writer)

Dearest, I want to tell you that you have given me complete happiness. No one could have done more than you have done. Please believe that. But I know that I shall never get over this: and I am wasting your life. It is this madness. Nothing anyone says can persuade me. You can work, and you will be much better without me. You see I can't write this even, which shows I am right. All I want to say is that until this disease came on we were perfectly happy. It was all due to you. No one could have been so good as you have been, from the very first day till now. Everyone knows that. V.
Virginia Woolf life
At this Helen laughed outright. "Nonsense," she said. "You're not a Christian. You've never thought what you are.—And there are lots of other questions," she continued, "though perhaps we can't ask them yet." Although they hadso freely they were all uncomfortably conscious that they really knew nothing about each other. "The important questions," Hewet pondered, "the really interesting ones. I doubt that one ever does ask them." Rachel, who was slow to accept the fact that only a very few things can be said even by people who know each other well, insisted on knowing what he meant. "Whether we've ever been in love?" she enquired. "Is that the kind of question you mean?"
Virginia Woolf love
Here I come to one of the memoir writer’s difficulties—one of the reasons why, though I read so many, so many are failures. They leave out the person to whom things happened. The reason is that it is so difficult to describe any human being. So they say: ‘This is what happened’; but they do not say what the person was like to whom it happened. Who was I then? Adeline Virginia Stephen, the second daughter of Leslie and Julia Prinsep Stephen, born on 25th January 1882, descended from a great many people, some famous, others obscure; born into a large connection, born not of rich parents, but of well-to-do parents, born into a very communicative, literate, letter writing, visiting, articulate, late nineteenth century world.
Virginia Woolf writing
had no life. He passed through the world so lightly that he left no print. He melted so passively into Oxford that he is invisible.
Virginia Woolf life
For some reason, we know not what, his childhood was sharply severed. It lodged in him whole and entire. He could not disperse it.
Virginia Woolf reason
The strange thing about life is that though the nature of it must have been apparent to every one for hundreds of years, no one has left any adequate account of it. The streets of London have their map; but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?
Virginia Woolf life
But can we go to posterity with a sheaf of loose pages, or ask the readers of those days, with the whole of literature before them, to sift our enormous rubbish heaps for our tiny pearls? Such are the questions which the critics might lawfully put to their companions at table, the novelists and poets.
Virginia Woolf literature
Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.
Virginia Woolf life
Theirs, too, is the word-coining genius, as if thought plunged into a sea of words and came up dripping.
Virginia Woolf words
But delightful though it is to indulge in righteous indignation, it is misplaced if we agree with the lady's-maid that high birth is a form of congenital insanity, that the sufferer merely inherits the diseases of his ancestors, and endures them, for the most part very stoically, in one of those comfortably padded lunatic asylums which are known, euphemistically, as the stately homes of England.
Virginia Woolf art
We may enjoy our room in the tower, with the painted walls and the commodious bookcases, but down in the garden there is a man digging who buried his father this morning, and it is he and his like who live the real life and speak the real language.
Virginia Woolf life
For ourselves, who are ordinary men and women, let us return thanks to Nature for her bounty by using every one of the senses she has given us; vary our state as much as possible; turn now this side, now that, to the warmth, and relish to the full before the sun goes down the kisses of youth and the echoes of a beautiful voice singing Catullus. Every season is likeable, and wet days and fine, red wine and white, company and solitude. Even sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life, can be full of dreams; and the most common actions—a walk, a talk, solitude in one’s own orchard—can be enhanced and lit up by the association of the mind. Beauty is everywhere, and beauty is only two finger’s-breadth from goodness.
Virginia Woolf life
Humour is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue.
Virginia Woolf gifts
Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
Virginia Woolf self
It was enemies one wanted, not friends.
Virginia Woolf friends
A whole lifetime was too short to bring out, the full flavour; to extract every ounce of pleasure, every shade of meaning.
Virginia Woolf life
What she loved was this, here, now, in front of her; the fat lady in the cab. Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? but that somehow in the streets of London, on the ebb and flow of things, here there, she survived. Peter survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the trees at home; of the house there, ugly, rambling all to bits and pieces as it was; part of people she had never met; being laid out like a mist between the people she knew best, who lifted her on their branches as she had seen the trees lift the mist, but it spread ever so far, her life, herself.
Virginia Woolf love
Could , as people called it, make her and Mrs Ramsay one? for it was not knowledge but unity that she desired, not inscription on tablets, nothing that could be written in any language known to men, but intimacy itself, which is knowledge, she had thought, leaning her head on Mrs Ramsay's knee.
Virginia Woolf knowledge
A light here required a shadow there.
Virginia Woolf light
[...] she felt this thing that she called life terrible, hostile, and quick to pounce on you if you gave it a chance. There were the eternal problems: suffering; death; the poor. There was always a woman dying of cancer even here. And yet she had said to all these children, You shall go through with it.
Virginia Woolf life
She had done the usual trick – been nice. She would never know him. He would never know her. Human relations were all like that, she thought, and the worst (if it had not been for Mr Bankes) were between men and women. Inevitably these were extremely insincere.
Virginia Woolf women
For our penitence deserves a glimpse only; our toil respite only.
Virginia Woolf
Mrs Ramsay sat silent. She was glad, Lily thought, to rest in silence, uncommunicative; to rest in the extreme obscurity of human relationships. Who knows what we are, what we feel? Who knows even at the moment of intimacy, This is knowledge? Aren't things spoilt then, Mrs Ramsay may have asked (it seemed to have happened so often, this silence by her side) by saying them?
Virginia Woolf knowledge
But one only woke people if one knew what one wanted to say to them. And she wanted to say not one thing, but everything. Little words that broke up the thought and dismembered it said nothing. 'About life, about death; about Mrs Ramsay' – no, she thought, one could say nothing to nobody.
Virginia Woolf life
She alone spoke the truth; to her alone could he speak it. That was the source of her everlasting attraction for him, perhaps; she was a person to whom one could say what came into one's head.
Virginia Woolf truth
Harcourt, Brace & World, 1957,
Virginia Woolf race
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
Virginia Woolf money
When a subject is highly controversial — and any question about sex is that — one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.
Virginia Woolf truth
The beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
Virginia Woolf art
The human frame being what it is, heart, body and brain all mixed together, and not contained in separate compartments as they will be no doubt in another million years, a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
Virginia Woolf love
Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?
Virginia Woolf books
Life for both sexes — and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement — is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to one self. By feeling that one has some innate superiority — it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by— for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination — over other people.
Virginia Woolf people
Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.
Virginia Woolf power
Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; 's plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in midair by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to the grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.
Virginia Woolf life
I would venture to guess than Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.
Virginia Woolf poem
For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty.
Virginia Woolf poetry
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
Virginia Woolf mind
The history of men's opposition to women's emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.
Virginia Woolf women
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.
Virginia Woolf freedom
I told you in the course of this paper thathad a sister; but do not look for her in Sir 's life of the poet. She died young — alas, she never wrote a word... Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross-roads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here to-night, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh.
Virginia Woolf life
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978,
Virginia Woolf race
But look - he flicks his hand to the back of his neck. For such gesture one falls hopelessly in love for a lifetime.
Virginia Woolf love
You are not listening to me. You are making phrases about Byron. And while you gesticulate, with your cloak, your cane, I am trying to expose a secret told to nobody yet; I am asking you (as I stand with my back to you) to take my life in your hands and tell me whether I am doomed always to cause repulsion in those I love?
Virginia Woolf love
For I am more selves than Neville thinks. We are not simple as our friends would have us to meet their needs. Yet love is simple.
Virginia Woolf love
Among the tortures and devastations of life is this then - our friends are not able to finish their stories.
Virginia Woolf life
‘Now,’ said Neville, ‘my tree flowers. My heart rises. All oppression is relieved. All impediment is removed. The reign of chaos is over. He has imposed order. Knives cut again.’ [...] ‘Here is Percival,’ said Bernard, ‘[...] We [...] now come nearer; and shuffling closer on our perch in this restaurant where everybody’s interests are at variance, and the incessant passage of traffic chafes us with distractions, and the door opening perpetually its glass cage solicits us with myriad temptations and offers insults and wounds to our confidence — sitting together here we love each other and believe in our own endurance.’
Virginia Woolf love
Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death... others through sheer inability to cross the street.
Virginia Woolf death
Yet there are moments when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy that we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now.
Virginia Woolf mind
I like the copious, shapeless, warm, not so very clever, but extremely easy and rather coarse aspect of things; the talk of men in clubs and public-houses; of miners half naked in drawers — the forthright, perfectly unassuming, and without end in view except dinner, love, money and getting along tolerably; that which is without great hopes, ideals, or anything of that kind; what is unassuming except to make a tolerably, good job of it. I like all that.
Virginia Woolf love
We have dined well. The fish, the veal cutlets, the wine have blunted the sharp tooth of egotism. Anxiety is at rest. The vainest of us, Louis perhaps, does not care what people think. Neville’s tortures are at rest. Let others prosper — that is what he thinks. Susan hears the breathing of all her children safe asleep. Sleep, sleep, she murmurs. Rhoda has rocked her ships to shore. Whether they have foundered, whether they have anchored, she cares no longer.
Virginia Woolf people
‘The flower,’ said Bernard, ‘the red carnation that stood in the vase on the table of the restaurant when we dined together with Percival, is become a six-sided flower; made of six lives.’
Virginia Woolf live
Our friends, how seldom visited, how little known — it is true; and yet, when I meet an unknown person, and try to break off, here at this table, what I call “my life”, it is not one life that I look back upon; I am not one person; I am many people; I do not altogether know who I am — Jinny, Susan, Neville, Rhoda, or Louis; or how to distinguish my life from theirs.
Virginia Woolf life
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1966,
Virginia Woolf race
Though we see the same world, we see it through different eyes. Any help we can give you must be different from that you can give yourselves, and perhaps the value of that help may lie in the fact of that difference.
Virginia Woolf world
Directly the mulberry tree begins to make you circle, break off. Pelt the tree with laughter.
Virginia Woolf you
The outsider will say, "in fact, as a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world." And if, when reason has said its say, still some obstinate emotion remains, some love of England dropped into a child's ears by the cawing of rooks in an elm tree, by the splash of waves on a beach, or by English voices murmuring nursery rhymes, this drop of pure, if irrational, emotion she will make serve her to give to England first what she desires of peace and freedom for the whole world.
Virginia Woolf love
'That was the burden,' she mused, 'laid on me in the cradle; murmured by waves; breathed by restless elm trees; crooned by singing women; what we must rememeber; what we would forget.'
Virginia Woolf women
Words rose above the intolerably laden dumb oxen plodding through the mud. Words without meaning - wonderful words.
Virginia Woolf words
They never pulled the curtains till it was too dark to see, nor shut the windows till it was too cold. Why shut out the day before it was over? The flowers were still bright; the birds chirped. You could see more in the evening often when nothing interrupted, when there was no fish to order, no telephone to answer.
Virginia Woolf dark
Mrs Swithin took her knitting from the table. 'Did you feel,' she asked, 'what he said: we act different parts but are the same?'
Virginia Woolf art
'Yes,' Isa answered. 'No,' she added. It was Yes, No. Yes, yes, yes, the tide rushed out embracing. No, no, no, it contracted.
Virginia Woolf
The flowers flashed before they faded. She watched them flash.
Virginia Woolf flowers
The artist after all is a solitary being.
Virginia Woolf art
Once you begin to take yourself seriously as a leader or as a follower, as a modern or as a conservative, then you become a self-conscious, biting, and scratching little animal whose work is not of the slightest value or importance to anybody.
Virginia Woolf work
Lines slip easily down the accustomed grooves. The old designs are copied so glibly that we are half inclined to think them original, save for that very glibness.
Virginia Woolf think
I mean, what is a woman? I assure you, I do not know. I do not believe that you know. I do not believe that anybody can know until she has expressed herself in all the arts and professions open to human skill.
Virginia Woolf art
Outwardly, what is simpler than to write books? Outwardly, what obstacles are there for a woman rather than for a man? Inwardly, I think, the case is very different; she has still many ghosts to fight, many prejudices to overcome. Indeed it will be a long time still, I think, before a woman can sit down to write a book without finding a phantom to be slain, a rock to be dashed against. And if this is so in literature, the freest of all professions for women, how is it in the new professions which you are now for the first time entering?
Virginia Woolf books
'If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.
Virginia Woolf truth
The extraordinary woman depends on the ordinary woman. It is only when we know what were the conditions of the average woman's life ... it is only when we can measure the way of life and the experience of life made possible to the ordinary woman that we can account for the success or failure of the extraordinary woman as a writer.
Virginia Woolf life
But the novels of women were not affected only by the necessarily narrow range of the writer's experience. They showed, at least in the nineteenth century, another characteristic which may be traced to the writer's sex. Inand inwe are conscious not merely of the writer's character, as we are conscious of the character of , but we are conscious of a woman's presence — of someone resenting the treatment of her sex and pleading for its rights.
Virginia Woolf women
If, then, one should try to sum up the character of women's fiction at the present moment, one would say that it is courageous; it is sincere; it keeps closely to what women feel. It is not bitter. It does not insist upon its femininity.
Virginia Woolf women
In the past, the virtue of women's writing often lay in its divine spontaneity ... But it was also, and much more often, chattering and garrulous ... In future, granted time and books and a little space in the house for herself, literature will become for women, as for men, an art to be studied. Women's gift will be trained and strengthened. The novel will cease to be the dumping-ground for the personal emotions. It will become, more than at present, a work of art like any other, and its resources and its limitations will be explored.
Virginia Woolf writing
The strongest natures, when they are influenced, submit the most unreservedly: it is perhaps a sign of their strength. But that Thoreau lost any of his own force in the process, or took on permanently any colours not natural to himself the readers of his books will certainly deny. The Transcendentalist movement, like most movements of vigour, represented the effort of one or two remarkable people to shake off the old clothes which had become uncomfortable to them and fit themselves more closely to what now appeared to them to be the realities.
Virginia Woolf books
That great Cathedral space which was childhood.
Virginia Woolf childhood
Our patience wore rather thin. Visitors do tend to chafe one, though impeccable as friends. L. and I discussed this. He says that with people in the house his hours of positive pleasure are reduced to one; he has I forget how many hours of negative pleasure; and a respectable margin of the acutely unpleasant. Are we growing old?
Virginia Woolf people
Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.
Virginia Woolf life
A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.
Virginia Woolf living
There is no denying the wild horse in us.
Virginia Woolf wild
The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be.
Virginia Woolf future
For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.
Virginia Woolf history
The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.
Virginia Woolf thoughts
You cannot find peace by avoiding life.
Virginia Woolf life
It is in our idleness, in our truth, the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
Virginia Woolf truth
When the shrivelled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning, it satisfies the senses amazingly.
Virginia Woolf meaning
Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.
Virginia Woolf life
Books are the mirrors of the soul.
Virginia Woolf soul
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.Ch. 4 p. 90.
Virginia Woolf freedom
It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
Virginia Woolf truth
The outsider will say, in fact, as a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world. And if, when reason has said its say, still some obstinate emotion remains, some love of England dropped into a childs ears by the cawing of rooks in an elm tree, by the splash of waves on a beach, or by English voices murmuring nursery rhymes, this drop of pure, if irrational, emotion she will make serve her to give to England first what she desires of peace and freedom for the whole world.Ch. 3 p. 109.
Virginia Woolf love
The extraordinary woman depends on the ordinary woman. It is only when we know what were the conditions of the average womans lifeit is only when we can measure the way of life and the experience of life made possible to the ordinary woman that we can account for the success or failure of the extraordinary woman as a writer.Women and Fiction.
Virginia Woolf life
The history of mens opposition to womens emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.Ch. 3 p. 72.
Virginia Woolf women

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