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Thread: Virginia Woolf - great writer or intellectual show-off?

  1. #31
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson Richardson View Post
    He has a point about The Waves.

    Dame Ivy should keep any reader on her toes unless they give up in despair.
    Gawd, The Waves is number 16 on the list. At least there are three books before it I have not read: The Good Soldier, Clarissa and Atonement. Clarissa is about ten thousand pages long, so I would not have to read The Waves for a long time.

    Virginia Woolf wrote Modernist novels (so I understand), which was the literary equivalent of Modern Art, which I dare say the majority of people do not like or understand either. I like some Modern Art although I don't know much about it. I think Virginia Woolf was being experimental for its own sake. Did she ever try write a traditional novel?
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  2. #32
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Not that I know of. But why do you have to follow a list in your reading?
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  3. #33
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    Not that I know of. But why do you have to follow a list in your reading?
    I don't. I read lots of other books too. I think the BBC's 100 best British books is actually quite an interesting list, being British myself. I just have a problem with Virginia Woolf's books being 2 and 3. I can't see what other people obviously do see in these books. They don't contain great plots, characters or dialogue. They are not entertaining, or particularly moving, or thought provoking. They are not books of ideas. They are writing experiments. Jane Austen changed the way books were written. She is often credited with inventing free indirect discourse. I think that is where the narrator reflects the state of the character's mind by dropping in words and phrases the character would think in a situation, rather than just stating baldly what the character thought. Something a bit like that anyway. That technique that was widely copied. How many stream of consciousness books are written these days? Trainspotting is the only one I remember reading. There are about as many epistolary novels.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  4. #34
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Yes, I know that you read a lot.
    I'll try to tell you what VW means to me, specially as I also didn´t like her at once.

    "I just have a problem with Virginia Woolf's books being 2 and 3. I can't see what other people obviously do see in these books. They don't contain great plots, characters or dialogue. They are not entertaining, or particularly moving, or thought provoking."
    With experimental literature you have to give up the usual conventions of plot, character, dialogue, omniscient narrator, and even of a linear story, all the aspects one likes about 18 and 19C novels. They are aspects that give one a sense of security, because this fictional world has is own rules and in a sense imitates the real world. Now, experimental fiction overturns these rules by interfering not only with the content but also with the form of the novel. It is the representation of a world where World War I and later II among other things have taken away the sense of security. VW shows how it affected particularly the rich class which she belonged too
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  5. #35
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Can´t edit the post above.
    So you don´t have profound Dostoevsky kind of dialogues, what you have now is Jackson's "butterfly mind", people thinking and talking about seemingly irrelevant every day matters. In The Lighthouse you have Mrs Ramsay thinking about her family, her friends "and tomorrow we will go to the lighthouse". All very neat, ordered and boring. But what happens tomorrow? Second part happens, all of a sudden the holiday party of Ramsays and Company is swept away and there is the war. And a very curious war account the novel gives. People from the family, including Mrs. Ramsay herself, die, but the information is given as if it didn´t matter much.The focus remains on the empty land house shaken by the tempest, deteriorating. But for Brits, if I am not mistaken, a house means much more than a home: it means security, stability, status. And, in a sense, it can be taken as representing the country itself. And after the war, some people of the party came back to the house and finally got to the lighthouse.
    And there is a beautiful parallel between Lily Briscoe´s picture and the book itself:
    "There it was — her picture. Yes, with all its greens and blues, its lines running up and across, its attempt at something. It would be hung in the attics, she thought; it would be destroyed. But what did that matter? she asked herself, taking up her brush again. She looked at the steps; they were empty; she looked at her canvas; it was blurred. With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision." So had it seems, VW. Whether one likes it or not, this is great literature.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  6. #36
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I wonder whether anyone has to like it to be great literature. The only bit that made me laugh was when one of young ladies at the dinner party said she doubted anyone really enjoyed Shakespeare, and he is considered our greatest writer.

    I wonder what Lili Briscoe's painting was like. I remember she had a lot of trouble placing a tree in her picture in the first part of the book. Since it's a landscape, why didn't she just paint it where she saw it? If she didn't like the view then she should have moved her easel.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  7. #37
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "I wonder what Lili Briscoe's painting was like. I remember she had a lot of trouble placing a tree in her picture in the first part of the book. Since it's a landscape, why didn't she just paint it where she saw it? If she didn't like the view then she should have moved her easel."

    Lili Briscoe´s art is for me very representative of VW,s art. Both are trying to represent a reality that has become very difficult to represent because it doesn´t fit in the old picture any more. So it was necessary to create a new form to represent it. There is a lot of symbolism here. I guess that moving her easel wouldn´t have helped, she would go on disliking the view.
    The problem is trying to read VW literally as if she was Jane Austen.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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