Virginia Woolf Quotes

Quotes tagged as "virginia-woolf" Showing 1-30 of 154
Virginia Woolf
“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.”
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
“I want to write a novel about Silence," he said; “the things people don’t say.”
Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

Virginia Woolf
“I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one’s own, with pictures and music and everything beautiful.”
Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

Virginia Woolf
“Yes, I deserve a spring–I owe nobody nothing.”
Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary

Virginia Woolf
“anyone who’s worth anything reads just what he likes, as the mood takes him, and with extravagant enthusiasm.”
Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

Virginia Woolf
“My belief is that if we live another century or so — I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals — and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting-room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton's bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare's sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf
“However, the majority of women are neither harlots nor courtesans; nor do they sit clasping pug dogs to dusty velvet all through the summer afternoon. But what do they do then? and there came to my mind’s eye one of those long streets somewhere south of the river whose infinite rows are innumerably populated. With the eye of the imagination I saw a very ancient lady crossing the street on the arm of a middle-aged woman, her daughter, perhaps, both so respectably booted and furred that their dressing in the afternoon must be a ritual, and the clothes themselves put away in cupboards with camphor, year after year, throughout the summer months. They cross the road when the lamps are being lit (for the dusk is their favourite hour), as they must have done year after year. The elder is close on eighty; but if one asked her what her life has meant to her, she would say that she remembered the streets lit for the battle of Balaclava, or had heard the guns fire in Hyde Park for the birth of King Edward the Seventh. And if one asked her, longing to pin down the moment with date and season, but what were you doing on the fifth of April 1868, or the second of November 1875, she would look vague and say that she could remember nothing. For all the dinners are cooked; the plates and cups washed; the children sent to school and gone out into the world. Nothing remains of it all. All has vanished. No biography or history has a word to say about it. And the novels, without meaning to, inevitably lie.

All these infinitely obscure lives remain to be recorded, I said, addressing Mary Carmichael as if she were present; and went on in thought through the streets of London feeling in imagination the pressure of dumbness, the accumulation of unrecorded life, whether from the women at the street corners with their arms akimbo, and the rings embedded in their fat swollen fingers, talking with a gesticulation like the swing of Shakespeare’s words; or from the violet-sellers and match-sellers and old crones stationed under doorways; or from drifting girls whose faces, like waves in sun and cloud, signal the coming of men and women and the flickering lights of shop windows. All that you will have to explore, I said to Mary Carmichael, holding your torch firm in your hand.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf
“No sooner have you feasted on beauty with your eyes than your mind tells you that beauty is vain and beauty passes”
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
“They all dreamt of each other that night, as was natural, considering how thin the partitions were between them, and how strangely they had been lifted off the earth to sit next each other in mid-ocean, and see every detail of each others' faces, and hear whatever they chanced to say.”
Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

Virginia Woolf
“Lord, how unutterably disgusting life is! What dirty tricks it plays us, one moment free; the next, this. Here we are among the breadcrumbs and the stained napkins again. That knife is already congealing with grease. Disorder, sordidity and corruption surrounds us. We have been taking into our mouths the bodies of dead birds. It is with these greasy crumbs, slobbering over napkins, and little corpses that we have to build. Always it begins again; always there is the enemy; eyes meeting ours; fingers twitching ours; the effort waiting. Call the waiter. Pay the bill. We must pull ourselves up out of the chairs. We must find our coats. We must go. Must, must, must — detestable word. Once more, I who had thought myself immune, who had said, "Now I am rid of all that", find that the wave has tumbled me over, head over heels, scattering my possessions, leaving me to collect, to assemble, to head together, to summon my forces, rise and confront the enemy.”
Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Virginia Woolf
“If you are losing your leisure, look out! -- It may be you are losing your soul.”
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
“As summer neared, as the evening lengthened there came to the wakeful, the hopeful, walking the beach, stirring the pool, imaginations of the strangest kind- of flesh turned to atoms which drove before the wind, of stars flashing in their hearts, of outwardly the scattered parts of the vision within. In those mirrors, the minds of men, in those pools of uneasy water, in which cloud forever and shadows form, dreams persisted; and it was impossible to resist the strange intimation which every gull, flower, tree, man and woman, and the white earth itself seemed to declare (but if you questioned at once to withdraw) that good triumph, happiness prevails, order rules, or to resist the extra ordinary stimulus to range hither and thither in search of some absolute good, some crystal of intensity remote from the known pleasures and familiar virtues, something alien to the processes of domestic life, single, hard, bright, like a diamond in the sand which would render the possessor secure. Moreover softened and acquiescent, the spring with their bees humming and gnats dancing threw her cloud about her, veiled her eyes, averted her head, and among passing shadows and fights of small rain seemed to have taken upon her knowledge of the sorrows of mankind.”
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
“But Orlando was a woman — Lord Palmerston had just proved it. And when we are writing the life of a woman, we may, it is agreed, waive our demand for action, and substitute love instead. Love, the poet has said, is woman’s whole existence. And if we look for a moment at Orlando writing at her table, we must admit that never was there a woman more fitted for that calling. Surely, since she is a woman, and a beautiful woman, and a woman in the prime of life, she will soon give over this pretence of writing and thinking and begin at least to think of a gamekeeper (and as long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking). And then she will write him a little note (and as long as she writes little notes nobody objects to a woman writing either) and make an assignation for Sunday dusk and Sunday dusk will come; and the gamekeeper will whistle under the window — all of which is, of course, the very stuff of life and the only possible subject for fiction. Surely Orlando must have done one of these things? Alas,— a thousand times, alas, Orlando did none of them. Must it then be admitted that Orlando was one of those monsters of iniquity who do not love? She was kind to dogs, faithful to friends, generosity itself to a dozen starving poets, had a passion for poetry. But love — as the male novelists define it — and who, after all, speak with greater authority?— has nothing whatever to do with kindness, fidelity, generosity, or poetry. Love is slipping off one’s petticoat and — But we all know what love is. Did Orlando do that? Truth compels us to say no, she did not. If then, the subject of one’s biography will neither love nor kill, but will only think and imagine, we may conclude that he or she is no better than a corpse and so leave her.”
Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Sylvia Plath
“But the life of a Willa Cather, a Lillian Helman, and Virginia Woolf - - - would it not be a series of rapid ascents and probing descents into shades and meanings — into more people, ideas and conceptions? Would it not be in color, rather than black-and-white, or more gray? I think it would. And thus, I not being them, could try to be more like them: to listen, observe, and feel, and try to live more fully.”
Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Virginia Woolf
“And if we can imagine the art of fiction come alive and standing in our midst, she would undoubtedly bid us break her and bully her, as well as honour and love her, for so her youth is renewed and her sovereignty assured.”
Virginia Woolf, Selected Essays

Virginia Woolf
“I should never be able to fulfill what is,I understand, the first duty of a lecturer-to hand you after an hour's discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece forever".”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“It is extremely difficult to say with any sense at all of adequacy what To the Lighthouse is all about.”
Arnold Kettle

Virginia Woolf
“For the film maker must come by his convention, as painters and writers and musicians have done before him.”
Virginia Woolf, Selected Essays

Virginia Woolf
“For if it is rash to walk into a lion's den unarmed, rash to navigate the Atlantic in a rowing boat, rash to stand on one foot on top of St. Paul's, it is still more rash to go home alone with a poet.”
Virginia Woolf, The Waves

E.M. Forster
“The Waves is an extraordinary achievement ... It is trembling on the edge. A little less - and it would lose its poetry. A little more - and it would be over into the abyss, and be dull and arty. It is her greatest book.”
E.M. Forster

Elizabeth Gilbert
“But what if, either by choice or by reluctant necessity, you end up not participating in this comforting cycle of family and continuity? What if you step out? Where do you sit at the reunion? How do you mark time's passage without the fear that you've just frittered away your time on earth without being relevant? You'll need to find another purpose, another measure by which to judge whether or not you have been a successful human being. I love children, but what if I don't have any? What kind of person does that make me?
Virginia Woolf wrote, "Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword." On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where "all is correct." But on the other side of that sword, if you're crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, "all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course." Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will also be more perilous.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Virginia Woolf
“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, The Waves

Virginia Woolf
“I had tea. I then spent a long time in a bookshop. A quiet evening.”
Virginia Woolf, A Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897-1909

Virginia Woolf
“[she] might have been a shell, and his words water rubbing against her ears, as water rubs a shell on the edge of a rock.”
Virginia Woolf, The voyage out virginia woolf: Classic Virginia Woolf novels

Virginia Woolf
“When the guns fired in August 1914, did the faces of men and women show so plain in each other's eyes that romance was killed?”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf
“...it is a thousand pities never to say what one feels”
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf
“- Drogie panie, musimy spróbować podsumować nasze wyniki - zaczęła Jane, kiedy szum od jakiegoś czasu dochodzący zza okna zagłuszył jej słowa.
- Wojna! Wojna! Wojna! Wypowiedziano wojnę! - krzyczeli na ulicy mężczyźni.
Popatrzyłyśmy na siebie w przerażeniu.
- Jaka wojna? - zawołałyśmy. - Jaka wojna?
Zbyt późno uświadomiłyśmy sobie, że nie przyszło nam do głowy skierować wysłanniczki do Izby Gmin. Całkiem o tym zapomniałyśmy. Zwróciłyśmy się do Poll, która dotarła już do działu literatury historycznej w Bibliotece Londyńskiej, by nas oświeciła.
- Dlaczego - spytałyśmy - mężczyźni chodzą na wojnę?
- Raz mają takie powody, a raz inne - odpowiedziała spokojnie Poll. - W 1760 na przykład... - krzyki z zewnątrz zagłuszyły jej słowa. - A znowu w 1797... w 1804... w 1866 to byli Austriacy, w 1870 Franko-Prusowie, a z kolei w 1900...
- Ale teraz jest 1914 - przerwałyśmy jej.
- Och, nie wiem, po co teraz idą na wojnę - przyznała.”
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
“Pomimo wszystko zdołała sprawić, że jej szkic o postaci dziekana Swifta stawał się coraz bardziej widoczny, a trzy gwiazdki znów rozbłysły całkiem wyraźnie, choć już nie jasnym blaskiem, lecz znękaniem i krwią, jakby ten człowiek, ten wielki pan Brinsley, przez to tylko, że mówiąc (o swoim szkicu, o sobie oraz, ze śmiechem, o pewnej dziewczynie), wyrywał musze skrzydełka, osnuł jej jasne życie chmurą i na zawsze ją zdezorientował, zniszczył jej skrzydełka na grzbiecie, więc kiedy się od niej odwrócił, pomyślała o wieżach i cywilizacji z przerażeniem, a jarzmo, które wprost z niebios opadło na jej barki, zgniotło ją i poczuła się jak naga nieszczęśnica, która poszukiwała schronienia w cienistym ogrodzie, ale wygnano ją, mówiąc: nie, tu nie ma kryjówek ani motyli, w tym świecie, w tej cywilizacji, w kościołach, parlamentach i mieszkaniach. Ta cywilizacja, powiedziała Lily Everit do siebie, przyjmując od pani Bromley miły komplement na temat swojego wyglądu, zależy ode mnie, a pani Bromley powiedziała później, że Lily Everit wyglądała, "jakby na jej barkach spoczywał ciężar całego świata".”
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
“fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; 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 . . . 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 grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.”
Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare's Sister

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