Sunday Spotlight: Virginia Woolf

Happy Sunday! This feature is dedicated to one of my favourite authors of all time, Virginia Woolf. A Modernist icon, Woolf writes with such beauty, precision and poignancy that her works have a timeless quality. Even when she’s not writing for an audience, her writing is superb – if you’re fans of any of her published novels, you should also read her diaries, which span five volumes – from 1915 to her death in 1941. Her insights into youth, love, tragedy, womanhood, metropolitan life and the vulnerability and strength of the self are unparalleled, and whilst her writing may be hard-going at times, I promise that perseverance pays off. Here are my four favourite Woolf novels.

1. Mrs Dalloway

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.”




2. The Waves


“I rose. I had done my breakfast. There was the whole day before us, and as it was fine, tender, non-committal, we walked through the Park to the Embankment, along the Strand to St Paul’s, then to the shop where I bought an umbrella, always talking, and now and then stopping to look. But can this last? I said to myself, by a lion in Trafalgar Square, by the lion seen once and for ever; -so I revisit my past life, scene by scene; there is an elm tree, and there lies Percival. For ever and ever, I swore. Then darted in the usual doubt. I clutched your hand. You left me. The descent into the Tube was like death. We were cut up, we were dissevered by all those faces and the hollow wind that seemed to roar down there over desert boulders. I sat staring in my own room. By five I knew that you were faithless. I snatched the telephone and the buzz, buzz, buzz of its stupid voice in your empty room battered my heart down, when the door opened and there you stood. That was the most perfect of our meetings. But these meetings, these partings, finally destroy us.”

3. A Room Of One’s Own

51zbbuqwjl“She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. 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.”




4. The Voyage Out

148905“”Oh, you’re free!” he exclaimed, in exultation at the thought of her, “and I’d keep you free. We’d be free together. We’d share everything together. No happiness would be like ours. No lives would compare with ours.” He opened his arms wide as if to hold her and the world in one embrace.”



4 thoughts on “Sunday Spotlight: Virginia Woolf

  1. Bespoke Traveler says:

    Last year I finished reading “Orlando” and it was such a revelation. While many critics say her stream-of-consciousness is difficult to follow, I find its dream-like quality to have a conciseness to it that is very appealing.

    Liked by 1 person

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