Saturday, December 4

a friendship: meeting and memory

This is a passage from a novel we are reading in one of my classes; it is one of my favorites because it is one of those moments of brilliant insight that catches your eye, makes you double-take on such a distracting paragraph in a novel of nearly unbearable characters. But without further ado:

"Brief, broken, often painful as their actual meetings had been what with his absences and interruptions [...] the effect of them on his life was immeasurable. There was a mystery about it. You were given a sharp, acute, uncomfortable grain--the actual meeting; horribly painful as often as not; yet in his absence, in the most unlikely places, it would flower out, open, shed its scent, let you touch, taste, look about you, get the whole feel of it and understanding, after years of lying lost. Thus she had come to him; on board ship; in the Himalayas; suggested by the oddest things..."

--Virginia Woolf, in Mrs. Dalloway

1 comment:

Harbin said...

Do keep in mind that for all her good qualities, Woolfe suffers from a syndrome common to so many Russian writers (e.g. Tolstoy, Turgenev, Dostyefsky) in that her ability to recognize and illuminate the inner life causes aspects of plot and narrative direction to suffer.

Plus, she was eating Alice's cuisine half the time, anyway.

For contrast, see Hawthorne's 'My Kinsman, Major Molineaux'. Short, dark, and vivid, this little tale always resets my perspective.

Happy Holidays,