Wednesday 2 September 2009

The cities which the elderly of the race have built upon the skyline

"Anyhow, whether undergraduate or shop boy, man or woman, it must come as a shock about the age of twenty - the world of the elderly - thrown up in such black outline upon what we are; upon the reality; the moors and Byron; the sea and the lighthouse; the sheep's jaw with the yellow teeth in it; upon the obstinate irrepressible conviction which makes youth so intolerably disagreeable - "I am what I am, and intend to be it," for which there will be no form in the world unless Jacob makes one for himself. The Plumers will try to prevent him from making it. Wells and Shaw and the serious sixpenny weeklies will sit on its head. Every time he lunches out on Sunday - at dinner parties and tea parties - there will be this same shock - horror - discomfort - then pleasure, for he draws into him at every step as he walks by the river such steady certainty, such reassurance from all sides, the trees bowering, the grey spires soft in the blue, voices blowing and seeming suspended in the air, [...].

Virginia Woolf: Jacob's Room, p. 30
I read every single novel, the short story collections, the diaries, the biography by Hermione Lee, for a 40 page paper on Virginia Woolf's work before graduating from high school. I haven't laid hands on any of these novels that now line my book shelves since, as if I had finished them forever. But you never really finish a good novel, because it becomes something different as you change, you discover the layers by re-reading them, and understanding them from a new perspective. "Jacob's Room" was published in 1922 and is, in my opinion, a more inspiring novel than the more commonly read "Mrs Dalloway" from 1925.

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