Skip to content

The seeds of addiction

I had hoped to finish reading Virgina Woolf’s The Waves today. I picked it up from my Mumini’s groaning bookshelf, having been suddenly and unexpectedly intoxicated with To The Lighthouse while travelling in New Zealand in January.

When I was in my undergrad studies, a berzillion years ago, I read a collection of the love letters exchanged between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West and I thought them wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. One of those books I got to the end of and immediately regretted the greed with which I had finished it. And then I was given a collection of Virgina Woolf’s general letters, and adored it even more. I started reading her collected diaries: I loved it all. But her fiction? I just didn’t get it. (As an Arts student, and particularly as an English Lit major, this was my dirty little secret, but when questioned, I found I could distract people by removing my pants and flinging them into the quadrangle.)

I have been on a rediscovering literature jag lately: I’m revisiting books that I read during my high school and uni studies, as well as books that I had a go at but never succeeded in finishing. That’s why I grabbed To The Lighthouse as one of my travelling books when I went overseas earlier this year — I’ve started it half a dozen times or so, but never really clicked with it. But when I opened it while relaxing one afternoon in NZ: wow. Wow. Why didn’t anybody TELL me? I don’t know if I had to grow into it or earn the right to love it or something crazy like that, but I devoured it. As soon as I got home, I was rummaging in Mumini’s bookshelf for more of the sublime Woolf; I started The Waves a week or two ago. It’s only a skinny little book, but my God, every sentence is loaded, full, rich, juicy. I can only read it slowly because there is so much to take in from every page, every paragraph. I love it. It gets called a novel, but it really doesn’t feel like one when I’m reading it: the way it slides between the six characters’ minds and voices, the strength of the imagery, the way it all sings and throbs like poetry. It is unique and awe-inspiring and magnificent.

I love getting caught up in a book like this: I take a break and feel like I’m seeing the world as if I were a wholly new person, or like I can suddenly see colour for the first time, or something like that — it’s a book I feel impacting me, changing me. It reminds me why I read; it thrills me. I’m hoping to finish it this afternoon, but I’ll miss it.

Normally I start off reading an author’s work and then learning more about the author out of curiosity — with Virgina Woolf, I have done it the other way around. I vividly remember hearing her suicide described on a TV show (the show itself now completely vague and forgotten) when I was a wee child, and it was my first encounter with the concept of suicide and the name Virginia Woolf. I found her life fascinating and tragic, her diaries and letters poignant and inspiring, and now I’ve fallen for her fiction, too. Next: the non-fiction. I nibbled at A Room of One’s Own in Year 11 and liked it very much — I am a twit of the first water for not having followed it up by reading it in its entirety. But! there is time to amend, especially since I have discovered an online version. But I want to finish The Waves first.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *