It seems meet and right so to do, thus I greet the New Year with the proclamation that I have finished Night and Day by Virginia Woolf and can report that several scales have dropped from the eyes in the process.The Voyage Out proved a good-ish first novel but nothing to shift my thinking dramatically.
Trying to keep up with the Woolf for Dummies class I plunged in on schedule and immediately knew I was drowning...better stop that little run of thought now...anyway I decided the wisest course was to stop and wait until I knew I had a spell of uninterrupted reading time when I could apply myself without distractions to this chunky 500+ page read.It seemed to merit my undivided attention.
This has paid off because I have picked it up again over Christmas almost 2 months later and sailed through it with real enjoyment.It's a bit like persuading children to do something they'd rather not; forget about it for a while and then try a new approach.
I've missed the class discussion so will probably get a detention.
I can't believe I'm saying that I really truly enjoyed a Virginia Woolf novel but this process is working slowly.It certainly pays to read what is lauded as her most conventional novel before you head into the trickier stuff and my problem has always been that I had to begin with Mrs Dalloway (which I didn't dislike in the end) swiftly followed by an attempt at The Waves (which I gave up on).Then I read far too much about Virginia Woolf's life and made any number of misplaced assumptions and judgements, so a reappraisal has been long overdue.
Much criticism levelled at Virginia at the time for writing a novel that completely ignored wider social issues, namely The Great War whilst focusing on the seemingly narrow remit of people's lives and predominantly upper crust lives at that.However add in the information that she was recovering from a mental breakdown and couldn't even contemplate the wider world and perhaps that offers some degree of mitigation.
I'm also starting to see that she was at the mercy of those around her.
Instructions from Miss to read Chapter 9 of Lyndall Gordon's Virginia Woolf A Writer's Life was prudently timed and I'm now getting a new perspective on Leonard Woolf. That new Victoria Glendinning biography's winking at me by the way.
That said I still have a niggling nasty little thought tucked away in a box and not really for sharing, that mental breakdown may have been an indulgence only permitted within the echelons of certain ranks within society; everyone else just had to go mad and deal with it...I'll duck now after saying that but it still feels relevant.
But Virginia is on a roll and she's starting to win me and my sympathies over.
Night and Day is a myriad of deeply perceptive writing about the minutiae of the human mind, life, love and relationships.The novel percolates that perfect sense of place tinged with melancholy, you can almost hear the whisper of the leaves falling off the plane trees in Russell Square as you walk around the streets of Bloomsbury with Katharine Hilbery.
It certainly makes you want to go for a late winter's afternoon stroll down Sicilian Avenue right this minute.
Sorry, not much to offer you in the way of original thought and can there be many of those left where Virginia Woolf is concerned? For me the book is still drifting down into my consciousness, but I know I will read it again and possibly again and that's original enough for me.
Let's see how we fare with Jacob's Room.