Wednesday, March 10, 2010

They published your diary, and that's how I got to know you....

For the last couple of weeks, I've been reading volume 1 of Virginia Woolf's diary. Some of it is slow going (I can't keep straight all the people she mentions), but for the most part I am enjoying it very much. VW comes off unquestionably a snob and a classist; she really believes her servants are fundamentally different kind of people than she and her family are. That doesn't keep her, however, from saying wonderfully put things about books, ideas, and humanity (even the servants!). There are also lots of interesting details, especially about the Hogarth Press. Less than one hundred years ago, for example, she saw setting eight pages of type in one day as very fast and efficient.

I've dog-eared about every fifth page so I'll give periodic updates on my favorite bits, hopefully grouped thematically (there are lots of visits to the library). Today, I'll give you the "unclassified" quotations. Also, bonus points to whomever can place the quote that serves as this post's title.

"What a terrible grip Xianity still has -- she became rigid & bigoted at once, as if God himself had her in his grasp. That I believe is still the chief enemy -- the fear of God. But I was tactful enough to keep this view dark." (165)
I think here VW is not criticizing Christians per se, but how the structure and power of organized religion can stifle progress.

"But I was glad to come home, & feel my real life coming back again -- I mean life here with L.[Leonard, her husband]. Solitary is not quite the right word; one's personality seems to echo out across space, when he's not there to enclose all one's vibrations." (70)

"The future is dark, which is on the whole, the best thing the future can be, I think." (22)

All quotations from The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume One 1915-1919, ed. Anne Olivier Bell. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1977.