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The Waves
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The Waves - Spine 2012 > Discussion - Week One - The Waves - Section 1 & 2

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Jim | 2401 comments Mod
Hello everyone and Welcome to our inaugural discussion here in the Brain Pain Group! As I'm writing this message, there are 335 members. When the group was launched a month ago, I hadn't imagined there would be this much interest. I'm in awe of the response and will do my best to insure that you all enjoy the reads and discussions. Please join in for any and all of the books which spark your interest. Enjoy!

This discussion covers Section 1 & 2 of The Waves.

Virginia Woolf departs from traditional narrative forms in The Waves. The book is divided into nine sections, each of which begins with a brief prose description of the sea and sun at intervals throughout a symbolic day from dawn to dusk. Each of these passages is followed by a series of “dramatic soliloquies” spoken by six characters – Bernard, Rhoda, Jinny, Louis, Neville and Susan. The soliloquy sections also mark the passage of time, but instead of a single day, they span the lifetime of the characters from grade school through old age. Other characters are referred to by the six, but only in passing. The exception is Percival, who does not speak, but who has a special place in the lives of the characters.

Section 1:

Interlude – The sun is not yet risen and the sky and sea appear as one. Slowly, the sun rises and the horizon is revealed. Piece by piece, the world is revealed as the birds begin to sing.

Soliloquies – We meet the six characters - three girls and three boys. They are at a boarding school near the sea. We follow them through the course of a day, from first light, through class time and playtime, and finally to bed as they drift off to sleep.


Section 2:

Interlude – The sun continues its ascent. The birds sing together, the buds blossom.

Soliloquies – The characters depart for secondary school – The girls to one boarding school, the boys to another. Their soliloquies increase in length and complexity. In the time span of this section, they attend school, observe their new world and new acquaintances, they finish their studies and graduate. They depart for their adulthood. The character ‘Percival’ makes an appearance in a few of the soliloquies.


Some general questions for discussion:

What is the relationship between the Interludes and the Soliloquies?

What information do the soliloquies give us about place? Time of day/year?

When the characters speak, who are they addressing? Are they speaking out loud?

Do the soliloquies function as dialogue? Internal monologue?

What do we learn about the characters as they speak?

How have the characters changed and/or remained the same between Sections 1 and 2?


These questions are just jumping-off points. Talk about whatever aspects of the book you wish.

To avoid spoilers, please restrict your discussion to Sections 1 and 2.


Andreea (andyyy) | 60 comments But are they really in a boarding school in the very first section of the novel? I always had the impression that they were children evacuated in the country because of WWI, although I'm not sure how frequent the practice was during WWI when air-raids were still not that frequent. They seem to be the only students and school with only 6 students seems very strange. Not to mention that I don't think mixed sex boarding schools were that common in the 20th century.


Jim | 2401 comments Mod
Andreea wrote: "But are they really in a boarding school in the very first section of the novel? I always had the impression that they were children evacuated in the country because of WWI, although I'm not sure h..."

I'm picking up the boarding school idea because of Neville and Louis talking about copy-books, conjugating verbs, and lessons on page 13. I was also thinking boarding school because of Louis talking about his father back in Brisbane, Australia.

Did you find something specific that suggests that they are evacuees? They seem fairly calm, but they are young, so if they are evacuees, they might not know how to articulate their situation and/or anxiety about the war.

It is difficult to know if there are other students, if it is a boarding school, and so on, without the descriptive passages we would find in a more traditional narrative style.


Ellie (EllieArcher) | 241 comments I always find the beginning of this book the most confused. I think it is their beginning consciousness-earliest childhood through the middle years so that school would be a part, though not all of it. And their consciousness at first seems merged-with each other & the world around them and then begins to individuate and articulate separately.


Jim | 2401 comments Mod
Ellie wrote: "I always find the beginning of this book the most confused. I think it is their beginning consciousness-earliest childhood through the middle years so that school would be a part, though not all of..."

I can see that. It also seems to be when they are closest to direct dialogue, especially the first few pages.


Catherine (catjackson) Andreea wrote: "But are they really in a boarding school in the very first section of the novel? I always had the impression that they were children evacuated in the country because of WWI, although I'm not sure h..."

I was wondering about this too. I didn't get the feeling they were in a boarding school, because there didn't seem to be any other students and the "setting" didn't seem right for a boarding school. But, I was confused as to how they all came to be together at someone's home. I didn't think of the children being evacuees, but that doesn't seem to quite fit.

By the way, thank you Jim, for your wonderful, succinct summaries of Sections 1 & 2. They really helped me to deepen the connections between the interludes and the soliloquies.


Linda (Lapia) | 46 comments I was confused at first by the way Woolf used such eloquent and "adult" language. What small child says, "All tremors shake me, and the weight of the earth is pressed to my ribs?" Once I got acclimated to Woolf's (intended) style for this story, it began to make more sense.

In part one the children are all about their surroundings. Everything from the tiniest insect to the waves crashing. Their perspective is surface oriented much like a child's would be.

In part one the children see themselves as equals, just another child in a place they either do or do not like. They are like the predawn gray light of the day. Each one part of the sea and each one part of a single and only wave that moves together in one direction.

In part two the children begin to distinguish themselves, and each other, as individuals. They are still a single unit of friends in which they rely, but also see each other as potential foes in a peer relationship. Deep insecurities begin to develop along with a plan to survive.

In part one they are all one big wave moving in one direction. In part two the big wave has separated into six smaller waves still moving forward at a pace none can control.


Jim | 2401 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "I was confused at first by the way Woolf used such eloquent and "adult" language. What small child says, "All tremors shake me, and the weight of the earth is pressed to my ribs?" Once I got acclim..."

Excellent connections between the waves and the children.


Filipe Russo (russo) | 91 comments Linda wrote: "I was confused at first by the way Woolf used such eloquent and "adult" language. What small child says, "All tremors shake me, and the weight of the earth is pressed to my ribs?" Once I got acclim..."

Excellent connections between the waves and the children. (2)

I never thought much where they were, only noting it was a seaside with some vegetation nearby. Couldn't they be educated at home not very far from there and just having the beach as their play-ground/neighborhood/gathering place/country houses?

Linda, it is just like The Devil To Pay in the Backlands, Guimaraes Rosa puts in the mouth of very poor and uneducated brazilians a language they wouldn't understand if they heard it in the streets but inside the book it all has its own independent mechanics.


Vivek Narayan (viileaves) | 11 comments

I am not quite sure yet, but it seems that the interludes reflect not only the time of day, but also the phase of life the six characters are at. Part one denotes dawn, the beginning of a fresh day full of possibilities, as is early childhood, in part two the sun continues to rise, the day becomes clearer, it starts to take shape if you will, which is again reflected by the soliloquies that follow when the characters are in school, adolescent.

As far as the characters go, Louis, Jinny, and Rhoda i feel are a little easier to understand. Louis is insecure as a child, he constantly compares himself and his heritage with his peers, but he seems to be developing a desire to prove himself. Jinny seems to be a vibrant outgoing person, who lives in the moment. Her physicality is a distinguishing trait. Rhoda however lives in a world of her own. She finds extraordinary abstractions in ordinary life, her existence is on a plane of mental solitude.

I could not however figure out Bernard and Neville, except that Bernard is more verbose of the two, even garrulous at times. Susan is still a conundrum to me.




message 11: by Linda (last edited Jan 02, 2012 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Linda (Lapia) | 46 comments Vivek, I also saw differences in personalities. It was Rhoda who captured my attention because of all the characters thus far, Rhoda seems to be the most attracted to water. We find her playing in the water of a basin (I assume it was water) and then suddenly her image becomes lost in a "gray cadaveropus space" of a puddle of water. She daydreams of life across the sea. She thinks of herself as like the foam of the sea which presented to my mind left-overs which wasn't a very good self image. She doesn't see herself as a mighty wave, or part of the wave of life even, but only the foam.

Plus she says, "I am afraid to be broken. I am to be derided all my life. I am afraid of you all."

And you mentioned Bernard. I found him to be a verbal snob of sorts. Seems that he likes to hear himself rattle on about things. For that reason I was put off by him. I wonder how others felt about good ol Bernard.


Filipe Russo (russo) | 91 comments Just foam of the sea... the natural residue of uncontrollable stronger forces that push us from one state to other and yet to another and so on sculpting ourselves in the way, like waves. Rhoda and Percival are my favourite ones from the group.


message 13: by Erika (last edited Jan 02, 2012 11:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erika | 93 comments In the first Interlude Woolf describes the waves as "following each other, pursuing each other perpetually." I kept coming back to this idea as I read through the first two soliloquies sections.

Sometimes the feeling of pursuit was created through repetition between characters, like waves lapping over each other at the shore. For example, when Bernard closes his thoughts with "This is our first night at school, apart from our sisters." Then Susan takes over, "This is my first night at school." And later when Neville says, "It is the first day of the summer holidays," which is immediately repeated by Susan.

There is so much repetition in the book! From single words--"Louis! Louis! Louis!" "flower after flower," "words and words," "down and down", "hours and hours,"--to longer phrases-- "...his tremendous and sonorous words. I love tremendous and sonorous words,"--to whole sentences--"I saw her kiss him [...] I saw her kiss him."

I also noticed that Woolf frequently uses the descriptions like "up and down," "in and out," "side to side," left to right," as well as skipping staccato sentences and phrases, "We buffet, we tussle, we spring," "I am turned; I am tumbled; I am stretched..." or "Yet we are all deeply moved; yet irreverent; yet penitent; yet anxious to get it over; yet reluctant to part."

The way the words push and pull each other through the text, all of the following and repetition, and the basic structure of the soliloquies sections really give me a feeling of a breathing sea, so alive. I love it.


Filipe Russo (russo) | 91 comments Erika, I also love this effect! It's very Woolf-esque, you can see it on her other works too but it definately has more aesthetical and rhythmical meaning in this one.


Erika | 93 comments Filipe, I couldn't remember if this was typical of Woolf's style (it's been nearly 20 years since I read most of her other novels). Now I'm excited to go back and look.


Jim | 2401 comments Mod
Erika wrote: "In the first Interlude Woolf describes the waves as "following each other, pursuing each other perpetually." I kept coming back to this idea as I read through the first two soliloquies sections.

..."


Erika, I posted this quote from the introduction in my edition (by Kate Flint) in an earlier discussion, but I think it bears repeating now that we're on our way:

"'Stream-of-consciousness', a term often loosely used of Woolf's prose in this novel, is in fact inappropriate in its suggestion of a continuous flow. Instead, the images of waves, with their incessant, recurrent dips and crests, provides a far more helpful means of understanding Woolf's representation of consciousness as something which is certainly fluid, but cyclical and repetitive, rather than linear. Additionally, since language is a shared medium, the novel dramatizes how identities themselves do not stand, ultimately, clear and distinct, but flow and merge into each other."

I imagine the rhythmic style and wave-like repetition is going to carry through the book. Good observations!


message 17: by Erika (last edited Jan 02, 2012 12:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erika | 93 comments Something else I enjoyed in terms of the interplay between the Interludes and Soliloquies was the use of color. It seems like Woolf sets up her palette in the Interlude and uses it throughout the corresponding soliloquies. The first section is dominated by the color white with lots of silver/grey and green, yellow accents, and a little red or blue. In the second section Woolf adds hints of gold, there is more red, and green and white remain important.


Erika | 93 comments Jim wrote: "Erika wrote: "In the first Interlude Woolf describes the waves as "following each other, pursuing each other perpetually." I kept coming back to this idea as I read through the first two soliloquie..."

Oh, Jim I like that very much. Thanks for sharing.


Catherine (catjackson) Erika wrote: "Something else I enjoyed in terms of the interplay between the Interludes and Soliloquies was the use of color. It seems like Woolf sets up her palette in the Interlude and uses it throughout the c..."

Thank you, Erika, for pointing this out. I noticed that color was important, but I hadn't gone quite that far with my thinking. I think color is more important with some of the characters than with others, but I'm still working on that angle.


message 20: by Erika (last edited Jan 02, 2012 12:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erika | 93 comments Yes Catherine, I also got that feeling, but I wasn't ready to draw the connections. Too early yet perhaps.

*I had to amend my comment a little. I went back to the first section and noticed a lot of silver, which I think I had put down as grey in my mind.


Ashley | 54 comments Erika wrote: "The way the words push and pull each other through the text, all of the following and repetition, and the basic structure of the soliloquies sections really give me a feeling of a breathing sea, so alive. I love it. "

It really is wonderful. Woolf's use of language is so effective in this novel. I just read "To the Lighthouse" recently, and there is evidence of this style there as well, but it is certainly more pronounced here. Like Filipe said, it has a more aesthetic and rhythmical quality in this text.

Linda wrote: "And you mentioned Bernard. I found him to be a verbal snob of sorts. Seems that he likes to hear himself rattle on about things. For that reason I was put off by him. I wonder how others felt about good ol Bernard."

I'm in agreement with you about Bernard. He is my least favorite of the characters by far. I think "verbal snob" is an apt description :)

I found the use of color interesting as well. I agree with Erika and Catherine that it seems color plays a more important role with certain characters than others. It'll be interesting to see how color is used as the characters further develop.


Whitney | 316 comments I could not however figure out Bernard and Neville, except that Bernard is more verbose of the two, even garrulous at times..."

Bernard and Neville seem like opposites in many ways. Bernard is expansive, sloppy, and the most athletic of the group (aside from Percival). Neville is delicate, fussy and exacting. Bernard loves the company of others, even the strangers on the train (largely because it seems his main goal in life is to always have an audience) while Neville considers them with disdain. Much of Neville’s soliloquies are devoted to criticisms of Bernard, so much so that you get the idea he is jealous of Bernard’s easy connections to others.


Filipe Russo (russo) | 91 comments Erika wrote: "Yes Catherine, I also got that feeling, but I wasn't ready to draw the connections. Too early yet perhaps.

*I had to amend my comment a little. I went back to the first section and noticed a lot o..."


I cannot think of silver without thinking of white and grey. Use of colors in literature feels so appalling to me, painting with words.


Ashley wrote: "Erika wrote: "The way the words push and pull each other through the text, all of the following and repetition, and the basic structure of the soliloquies sections really give me a feeling of a bre..."

The use of repetition and absence are trademarks of both Woolf and Clarice Lispector.


message 24: by Erika (last edited Jan 02, 2012 02:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erika | 93 comments Filipe, I'm curious why painting with words is appalling.

To me, our world is so (almost over-) saturated with color that we often don't take the time to contemplate it. Emphasizing certain colors (or non-colors, as the case may be), as Woolf does here, encourages the reader to consider color more deeply, I think. To imagine color in a more meaningful way. Personally, I like that.


Laurele (goodreadscomlaurele) | 80 comments Erika wrote: "Filipe, I'm curious why painting with words is appalling.

To me, our world is so (almost over-) saturated with color that we don't often don't take the time to contemplate it. Emphasizing certain..."


Filipe meant appealing, I think.


Rosario (goingtocalifornia) | 18 comments In my opinion the "painting with words" was used by Woolf to define characters' stages, as like as their way of expressing theirselves during the sections.


Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments The use of repetition is one of the most common literary devices. That doesn't mean Woolf is not a brilliant writer, just to suggest it's not unique.


Laurele (goodreadscomlaurele) | 80 comments Why doesn't Louis go in for breakfast with the others?


Catherine (catjackson) Laurele wrote: "Erika wrote: "Filipe, I'm curious why painting with words is appalling.

To me, our world is so (almost over-) saturated with color that we don't often don't take the time to contemplate it. Empha..."


Thank you, Laurele, for clarifying that. I hope that's what Filipe meant, because for me, an author's use of color, shape, and texture connects with the tactile side of me and expands my understanding of the setting and characters. It adds to the symbolism and the theme of the story. An author can help me create a that "film" in my brain that so increases my understanding and enjoyment of the novel.


Vivek Narayan (viileaves) | 11 comments Laurele wrote: "Why doesn't Louis go in for breakfast with the others?"

I think this demonstrates Louis's sense of himself as not fitting in. His early characterisation indicates that he is embarrassed as a child by his Australian accent and his poorer background. Think from a child's perspective who is thrown in a group where he is perhaps intimidated by everyone else, he is constantly in self doubt, and maybe a little apprehensive of what others might think of him. He thus chooses solitude over possible confrontation hoping no one finds him at his hiding place "Oh Lord, let them pass. Lord, let them lay their butterflies on a pocket-handkerchief on the gravel. Let them count out their tortoise-shells, their red admirals and cabbage whites. But let me be unseen"

Any other thoughts on this people?




Filipe Russo (russo) | 91 comments Sure, Bill. But repetition is mostly but not solely used by unskillful writers because of lack of talent and/or effort. It's only when used as a method of inteligent emphasis and embodiement of discrepancy (the few meaningful variations) that it really shows its potential value.

I meant appealing. I really did. Please believe me if you can. Thanks, Laurele, for correcting me. Catherine, I experience something quite similar to what you said. I love when different aspects of sensory and daily life are mixed with different arts' qualities (the static visuals of paintings, the flowing ones from movies, rhythm and tone from music, etc) in one single medium.


Vivek Narayan (viileaves) | 11 comments Linda, there is also a noticeable difference in characters of Jinny and Rhoda, wouldn't you agree? While Jinny seeks to be noticed, to be appreciated, even admired, Rhoda is introverted, highly sensitive, and drifts off into her imagination as a means of escaping from social situations. It should be rather interesting to see her personality develop further.


Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Filipe, I don't think that's true at all. Great writers commonly use repetition. There's repetition of sound, alliteration or assonance, leitmotif in Wagner, there can be the complex repetitions in Yeat's "Eastern 1916" or the bartenders, "Hurry Up, Please, It's Time" in "The Waste Land", there's repetition in symbol.

My comment was to suggest that I was curious why people thought repetition particularly effective in The Waves. I wasn't challenging whether it was. She's a favorite writer of mine -- and above she writes.


Erika | 93 comments Vivek wrote: "Laurele wrote: "Why doesn't Louis go in for breakfast with the others?"I think this demonstrates Louis's sense of himself as not fitting in. His early characterisation indicates that he is embarras..."

I agree.


message 36: by Bill (last edited Jan 02, 2012 07:44PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Filipe, what? Mostly used by unskillful writers? No it's not. Repetition is used all the time by great writers beginning with Homeric epithets. The basic stuff of literary effect is repetition: alliteration, assonance, there's the repetitive use of symbols, of Wagnerian leitmotif, there's, for example, HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S IT'S TIME in "The Waste Land" or "All has changed, changed utterly/A terrible beauty is born" in Yeats' "Eastern 1916".

And the basis of poetry, which most of literary writing before around 1830 from the beginning, which is meter (repetition of rhythm) and rhyme (repetition of sound).

And it's

And it not just in poetry. There are sections of Melville that could be blank verse if the lines weren't put in paragraphs.

Or look at the lines quoted by Laurele

"Let them pass, Lord, let them lay their butterflies on a pocket-handkerchief on the gravel. Let them count out their tortoise-shells, their red admirals and cabbage whites."

It's not a strict meter, but it's prominent use of anapestic feet give it music, and primarily short vowel sounds.

Let them pass, (--/), (anapest)
Lord (/), single long
Let them lay (--/) anapest
their pocket handkerchiefs (-/-/-/)iambic
On the grav (--/)anapest
el (-) (single short)
let them count (--/) anapest
out (/)(single)
their tortoise shells (-/-/)iambic
their red ad (--/)anapest
mir (single short)
als and cab (--/)(anapest)
bage whites

Virginia is singing. Even if you think the breaking it up into poetic is over-the-top, you can't discount the music.

Laurele,

I think you're right.

I wasn't suggesting that Virginia Woolf was unskillful. I was just wondering people thought was particularly skillful about how it was used here.


message 37: by Erika (last edited Jan 02, 2012 05:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erika | 93 comments Bill wrote: "Filipe, I don't think that's true at all. Great writers commonly use repetition. There's repetition of sound, alliteration or assonance, leitmotif in Wagner, there can be the complex repetitions in..."

I'm not sure how well I can articulate this, Bill, but I'll give it go. I think Woolf's repetition (combined with other devices) is sometimes fluid, sometimes staccato, sometimes churning and roiling around a feeling or an idea. Sometimes she uses a small repetition to emphasize tension or juxtaposition in a larger sentence or paragraph, creating a sort of a push and pull. All of this together lends a naturalistic rhythm that, for me, imbues the text with life, with breath. It intimates the erratic pulse of the sea. I think it is particularly effective in that she really uses words, not just their meanings but their structure and relationship to dramatize the way she is thinking about consciousness. (see Jim's comment & quote in #16)

Others use repetition to good effect, especially in poetry and music, I agree. I just found Woolf's way with it striking and enriching.


Rosario (goingtocalifornia) | 18 comments Erika wrote: "Vivek wrote: "Laurele wrote: "Why doesn't Louis go in for breakfast with the others?"I think this demonstrates Louis's sense of himself as not fitting in. His early characterisation indicates that ..."
I agree with you too, Vivek !

You can see Rhoda copies Jinny and Susan in order not to be alone in her own world (she likes the way their partners wear their socks), anyway Jinny is angry with her because of that and so, she doesn't want to teach her what she knows, except of Susan who is a little bit more pleasant.

Louis also sees Rhoda with other eyes in respect of the rest of the children: he isn't afraid of her (when he saw her in front of the blackboard watching the numbers)because she's introverted like him and wouldn't fool him because of his Austrailian accent. In the second section, Louis is jealous of the boys who play cricket and would do anything to be like them (it shows what you said first, about his sense of not fitting in the group.) And He also wants to be the best.


Erika | 93 comments Rosario wrote: Louis also sees Rhoda with other eyes in respect of the rest of the children: he isn't afraid of her (when he saw her in front of the blackboard watching the numbers)because she's introverted like him and wouldn't fool him because of his Austrailian accent.

Yes, Rosario. I liked this bit, which I felt showed Louis' sympathy for Rhoda early on (while also characterizing the others):

"Up here Bernard, Neville, Jinny and Susan (but not Rhoda) skim the flower beds with their nets....They brush the surface of the world."


Ashley | 54 comments Erika wrote: "I'm not sure how well I can articulate this, Bill, but I'll give it go...It intimates the erratic pulse of the sea...."

I think you articulated that quite well! I'm in full agreement. The reason I believe this writing style is particularly effective in this novel is due to its integration of the actual text with the imagery of waves invoked throughout the novel (and the actual title!).


Filipe Russo (russo) | 91 comments Bill, first of all I said "But repetition is mostly but not solely..." which meant I'm well aware of the huge number of classics in prose and poetry and their use of repetition. But I'm also even more aware of the even huger number of writers before, between and after them that don't use repetition with meaning or intended effect or elegance but just out of pure lack of skills and/or effort. I'm with Erica and her explanation, for me Woolf just took the next step in the use of repetition in prose as a literary device. And when I speak of repetition a mean from words, phrases, phonetics, punctuation, ideas, themes, etc. I personally take this very seriously in my own writing.


Laurele (goodreadscomlaurele) | 80 comments Bill wrote: "Filipe, what? Mostly used by unskillful writers? No it's not. Repetition is used all the time by great writers beginning with Homeric epithets. The basic stuff of literary effect is repetition: all..."

The credit for quoting the "Let them pass, Lord...." lines goes to Vivek.


Catherine (catjackson) Erika wrote, "I think it is particularly effective in that she really uses words, not just their meanings but their structure and relationship to dramatize the way she is thinking about consciousness. (see Jim's comment & quote in #16)"

Erika was responding to the conversation about repetition and added this part about Woolf's use of words. I agree with Erika; Woolf, I think, was very careful in her use of words, not just for their meaning, but in their structure, in their feel, in their fit. I think she was also very cognizant of the structure of her sentences; short, staccato sentences; long, rolling sentences; sentences that combine the two. This care with the structure of sentences may help to mimic the feeling of the waves; short, white-capped waves; longer, rolling waves; and the mix of waves that you may find in certain areas due to wind, tides, weather and underwater geography.


message 44: by Bill (last edited Jan 02, 2012 08:33PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Yes, Erika, extremely well-done. :-)

Catherine -- it's hard to know how conscious Woolf was, how much was intuition -- unless you have references in the diaries and the letters, which I haven't read. But she created such a volume of work (the non-fiction as well as the fiction) while running the Hogarth Press with Leonard -- and suffering her own issues -- not to mention those diaries and letters -- it's hard to know.

I'd believe either she was conscious or just highly intuitive. BUT you're right about the effects of her prose.


Erika | 93 comments Thanks Bill! : )

Thinking about that level of intuition blows my mind a little bit.

I wish I hadn't let my father-in-law scoop up my copies of the diaries. They would come in handy now.


Filipe Russo (russo) | 91 comments Artists tend to be intuitive, then the critics take conscience of the achievements sometimes not even the artists knew they were making. But I wonder how much you can do intuitively without really deciding consciously what you want and what you are getting. That kind of intuition would be scary.


Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Felipe,

When artists work, some are more conscious and others less so. Some consider themselves as highly conscious, some don't.

Some intend to write one poem or book or play and discover they've written quite a different one. There aren't rules.

And I understood what you said before with regard to repetition. But I think repetition is almost like three-point perspective -- everyone used it, good painters and bad -- and the good painters used to be better effect like everything else. But it's so fundamental to literary effects it's hard to single it out.

Erika,

It's the other way around for me. That level of consciousness would blow my mind. It's very hard to imagine a novelist writing with the consciousness of a critic later taking it apart, not if the work were exceptionally rich, not if he or she were at all prolific -- and when all is taken into consideration I'd have to think Woolf was prolific.


Lily (Joy1) | 295 comments Bill wrote: "...It's the other way around for me. That level of consciousness would blow my mind. It's very hard to imagine a novelist writing with the consciousness of a critic later taking it apart, not if the work were exceptionally rich, not if he or she were at all prolific -- and when all is taken into consideration I'd have to think Woolf was prolific...."

I haven't read her bios, but knowing a bit about what she did with Orlando in deliberate contrast with her father's work, I sometimes think the very levels of her consciousness must have been part of what led her to eventually take her walk into the waves with stones in her pockets.


Lily (Joy1) | 295 comments Before you all get into this too far with your wonderful comments and insights, I’m going to jump back to my own reaction to her very opening lines:

“The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky….

“Gradually the dark bar on the horizon became clear as if the sediment in an old wine-bottle had sunk and left the glass green. Behind it, too, the sky cleared…

“Gradually the fibres of the burning bonfire were fused into one haze, one incandescence which lifted the weight of the woollen grey sky on top of it and turned it to a million atoms of soft blue…”

7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. Genesis 1:7-8 NRSV.

Well, for me, Woolf started out by putting on her God hat – yes, “God”, not “Goddess.” LOL! This is not Woolf being modest, but at the height of her creative powers, was my very personal reaction.

(If you want to compare further, Woolf is here:
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf...

NRSV is here [probably should use an edition she knew]: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Gene... )

Since I know a bit of the story before starting to read the text, (view spoiler)


Erika | 93 comments Lily wrote: "Before you all get into this too far with your wonderful comments and insights, I’m going to jump back to my own reaction to her very opening lines:

“The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, ex..."


Wow Lily, thanks. I'm absorbing all this.

I do agree with you about her being at the height of her creative powers.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Orlando (other topics)
The Waves (other topics)
The Well of Loneliness (other topics)