All posts tagged: Virginia Woolf

To the River

I was pulled to the Ouse as a magnet is pulled to metal, returning on summer nights and during the short winter days to repeat some walks, some swims until they amassed the weight of ritual. I’d come to that corner of Sussex idly and with no intention of staying long, but it seems to me now that the river cast a lure, that it caught me on the fly and held me heart-stopped there. And when things in my own life began to falter, it was the Ouse to which I turned. To the River, Olivia Laing   In the summer of 2009, after ‘one of those minor crises that periodically afflict a life’ — the loss of a job, and then a lover — Olivia Laing set out to spend a week walking the length of the River Ouse, forty-two miles from source to sea. The Ouse, ‘a pretty, middling river’ flows through Sussex Weald and Downs and into the English Channel at Newhaven. If it’s famous for anything, it’s for being the …

On rereading

“For me rereading is the litmus test of a work of art” Edna O’Brien. “We finish a book and return to it years later to see what we might have missed, or the ways in which time or age have affected our understanding.” ‘Reading Like a Writer’, Francine Prose I would love to reread more than I do. I watch the way my seven-year-old daughter reads — returning to old favourites again and again, sometimes going back to the start of a series as soon as she reaches the end — and I remember the deep pleasure of reading a book over and over until it is as familiar as a dear friend. But it’s hard, as an adult, to make the time to reread. The piles of books that I want to read — both virtual & literal: by my bed, in the loft room, on the shelves at the end of the kitchen — seem to grow exponentially. There’s a strange pressure to read the next thing, or the latest thing, or the classic …

Things I Don’t Want To Know

  Now that we were mothers we were all shadows of our former selves, chased by the women we used to be before we had children. We didn’t really know what to do with her, this fierce, independent young woman who followed us about, shouting and pointing the finger while we wheeled our buggies in the English rain. We tried to answer her back but we did not have the language to explain that we were not women who had merely ‘acquired’ some children – we had metamorphosed  (new heavy bodies, milk in our breasts, hormonally-programmed to run to our babies when they cried) in to someone we did not entirely understand. Things I Don’t Want To Know, Deborah Levy We’re speeding now, towards the summer holidays. Two weeks and two days to go. And yet, there’s so much to be fitted in. Sports day, the school summer fair, the Moose’s visits to T’s school which he will start in September. Play dates and picnics and holiday preparations. It’s all fun, but it has the …

Midsummer’s Eve

…the creation of a character is like listening to something faint and distant. It’s like trying to remember someone one knew slightly, in passing, a very long time ago, but to remember them so that one knows them better than one knows oneself. It’s like trying to know a family member who died before one was born, from looking at photographs and objects belonging to them; also from hearing the things, often contradictory, that people say about them, the anecdotes told. from Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deidre Madden This morning, driving to pre-school, the cow parsley on the verges was a head-high veil of flickering white, the fields and roadsides were dotted red with poppies. Sitting here, in our loft room, I can hear the children at T’s school playing outside. The breeze is warm and gentle on my bare arms. The air smells of cut grass and privet. It’s the kind of day that you feel you are swimming out into, floating along in its warmth and fragrance. Days like this always remind me …

Sounds & distractions

It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded these open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void, and filled up with new sounds and distractions. Rebecca Solnit I finally read Rebecca Solnit’s essay last week (prompted by Denise and Keri). I’ve been thinking about it ever since. She writes so well on the rhythm of the recent past: the newspaper being delivered in the morning, the excitement of the post arriving, the news arriving via radio and television at appointed hours – a rhythm that was once so familiar. I used to wonder at my grandparents growing up in a world without cars, without television; now I know that my children wonder …

Time passes

‘Well, we must wait for the future to show,’ said Mr Bankes, coming in from the terrace. ‘It’s almost too dark to see,’ said Andrew coming up from the beach. ‘One can hardly tell which is the sea and which is the land,’ said Prue.To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf A thin white January sky. The Biscuit is five and a half, the Moose is two and three-quarters, the Pip Pop is five weeks. Like Max in The Wild Things we have sailed in and out of weeks and this is where we have landed: here in the thick of parenthood, here with three car seats lined up in the back of the car, here in a thick tangle of love and children.