Monday, November 30, 2015

Autumnal Round: November 30, 2015

It was now November. After November, comes December. Then January, February, March, and April. After April comes May. June, July, August follow. Next is September. Then October, and so, behold, here we are back at November again, with a whole year accomplished.

This method of writing biography, though it has its merits, is a little bare, perhaps, and the reader, if we go on with it, may complain that he could recite the calendar for himself and so save his pocket whatever sum the Hogarth Press may think proper to charge for this book.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Room of Her Own: November 29, 2015

Of all the hours of an ordinary working week– day, which are the pleasantest to look forward to and to look back upon? If a single instance is of use in framing a theory, it may be said that the minutes between nine–twenty– five and nine–thirty in the morning had a singular charm for Mary Datchet. She spent them in a very enviable frame of mind; her contentment was almost unalloyed. High in the air as her flat was, some beams from the morning sun reached her even in November, striking straight at curtain, chair, and carpet, and painting there three bright, true spaces of green, blue, and purple, upon which the eye rested with a pleasure which gave physical warmth to the body.
Night and Day (77)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Remembering a Father: November 28, 2015

Talland House Ghosts, Digital Print
28 November 1928

Father’s Birthday.  He would have been . . . 96, yes, today; & could have been 96, like other people one has known; but mercifully was not.  His life would have entirely ended mine.  What would have happened?  No writing, no books; -- inconceivable.  I used to think of him & mother daily; but writing The Lighthouse, laid them in my mind.  And now he comes back sometimes, but differently. (I believe this to be true – that I was obsessed by them both, unhealthily; & writing of them was a necessary act).  He comes back now as more of a contemporary.  I must read him some day.  I wonder if I can feel again, I hear his voice, I know this by heart?

(D3 208)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Kew Orchids: November 27, 2015

Orchids at Kew, photo by Syd Cross

Nevertheless, when he saw Katharine among the orchids, her beauty strangely emphasized by the fantastic plants, which seemed to peer and gape at her from striped hoods and fleshy throats, his ardor for botany waned, and a more complex feeling replaced it. She fell silent. The orchids seemed to suggest absorbing reflections. In defiance of the rules she stretched her ungloved hand and touched one. The sight of the rubies upon her finger affected him so disagreeably that he started and turned away. But next moment he controlled himself; he looked at her taking in one strange shape after another with the contemplative, considering gaze of a person who sees not exactly what is before him, but gropes in regions that lie beyond it. The far–away look entirely lacked self–consciousness. Denham doubted whether she remembered his presence. He could recall himself, of course, by a word or a movement—but why? She was happier thus. She needed nothing that he could give her. And for him, too, perhaps, it was best to keep aloof, only to know that she existed, to preserve what he already had—perfect, remote, and unbroken.

Night and Day (331-2)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Burning Bush at Kew: November 26, 2015

November 26, 1917 

We went to Kew & saw a blazing bush, as red as cherry blossom, but more intense – frostily red – also gulls rising and falling for pieces of met, their crowd waved aside suddeny by three very elegant light grey cranes.  We also went into the orchid house where these sinister reptiles live in a tropical heat, so that they come out in all their spotted & streaked flesh even now in the cold.  They always make me anxious to bring them into a novel. 
(D1 82)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Leonard's Birthday: November 25, 2015

Leonard's desk at Monk's House
November 25, 1938

L's birthday -- 58?  But I open this [diary] to note at the foot of the last pessimistic page, in 2 minutes, the fact that pessimism can be routed by getting into the flow: creative writing.  A passage in Bio[graph]y came right.  After an incredible empty churning & grinding.  Cold tears standing behind my eyes.  It came right & I'm floated.  So why not, when pessimimist, dandle the brain a little, until it gets into its circuit?    
    A fine cold day: L's birthday.
(D5 189)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cow Chorus: November 24, 2015

Cows at Charleston
Then suddenly, as the illusion petered out, the cows took up the burden.  One had lost her calf.  In the very nick of time she lifted her great moon-eyed head and bellowed.  All the great moon- eyed heads laid themselves back.  From cow after cow came the same yearning bellow.  The whole world was filled with dumb yearning. It was the primeval voice sounding loud in the ear of the present moment.  Then the whole herd caught the infection.  Lashing their tails, blobbed like pokers, they tossed their heads high, plunged and bellowed, as if Eros had planted his dart in their flanks and goaded them to fury.  The cows annihilated the gap; bridged the distance; filled the emptiness and continued the emotion.

Between the Acts (96)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mystical Series: November 23, 2015

Hours-- RGB silkscreen and collograph
November 23, 1926
Yet I am now & then haunted by some semi mystic very profound life of a woman, which shall all be told on one occasion; & time shall be utterly obliterated; future shall somehow blossom out of the past. One incident—say the fall of a flower—might contain it. My theory being that the actual event practically does not exist—nor time either. But I dont want to force this. I must make up my Series book. 
(D3 118)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flowering Antigone: Novemeber 22, 2015

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kenneday
And whether it was the wine or the words or both, a luminous shell formed, a purple fume, from which out stepped a Greek girl; yet she was English. There she stood among the marble and the asphodel, yet there she was among the Morris wall-papers and the cabinets--his cousin Kitty, as he had seen her last time he dined at the lodge. She was both of them--Antigone and Kitty; here in the book; there in the room; lit up, risen, like a purple flower. No, he exclaimed, not in the least like a flower!

The Years (49)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Drowned Sailors: November 21, 2015

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell And the profit and loss. A current under sea Picked his bones in whispers.

As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth Entering the whirlpool.

Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look windward,
Consider Phlebas who was once handsome and tall as you.

T.S. Eliot  The Waste Land

But he himself remained high on his rock, like a drowned sailor on a rock.  I leant over the edge of the boat and fell down, he thought.  I went under the sea.  I have been dead, and yet am now
alive, but let me rest still; he begged (he was talking to himself again--it was awful, awful!); and as, before waking, the voices of birds and the sound of wheels chime and chatter in a queer harmony,
grow louder and louder and the sleeper feels himself drawing to the shores of life, so he felt himself drawing towards life, the sun growing hotter, cries sounding louder, something tremendous about
to happen.

Mrs. Dalloway (67)

The Waste Land was published in The Dial in November 1922 
The Hogarth Press edition came out in September 1923


Friday, November 20, 2015

A Death Concealed: November 20, 2015

Asters beaten down by rain
November 22, 1906
Thoby is as well as possible. We aren’t anxious.  His nurses really are nice women; and full of fight and energy – and so far there have been no quarrels.  Indeed I had the greatest compliment I have had yet—‘you really are more sensible than other people, Miss Stephen” – and she didn’t know that I am also more inspired than most people.  Aint I?    (L1 249)

Letter to Violet Dickinson, concealing the death of Thoby Stephen on November 20, 1906 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Open Squares: November 19, 2015

Russell Square
“Yes, I took my little bag into the square,” said Mrs. Seal, with the self–conscious guilt of a child owning some fault to its elders. “It was really very sustaining, and the bare boughs against the sky do one so much GOOD. But I shall have to give up going into the square,” she proceeded, wrinkling her forehead. “The injustice of it! Why should I have a beautiful square all to myself, when poor women who need rest have nowhere at all to sit?” She looked fiercely at Katharine, giving her short locks a little shake. “It’s dreadful what a tyrant one still is, in spite of all one’s efforts. One tries to lead a decent life, but one can’t. Of course, directly one thinks of it, one sees that ALL squares should be open to EVERY ONE.

Night & Day (87) 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Autumnal Persuasion: November 18, 2015

There is a new element in Persuasion, the quality, perhaps, that made Dr. Whewell fire up and insist that it was "the most beautiful of her works".  She is beginning to discover that the world is larger, more mysterious, and more romantic than she had supposed.  We feel it to be true of herself when she says of Anne:  "She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older--the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning".  She dwells frequently upon the beauty and the melancholy of nature, upon the autumn where she had been wont to dwell upon the spring.  She talks of the "influence so sweet and so sad of autumnal months in the country".  She marks "the tawny leaves and withered hedges".  "One does not love a place the less because one has suffered in it", she observes. 

“Love and Friendship”  The Common Reader

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Secrets of 22 Hyde Park Gate: November 17, 2015

Drains: 22 Hyde Park Gate
They want a plot, do they? They want a reason?  It is not enough for them, this ordinary scene.  It is not enough to wait for the thing to be said as if it were written; to see the sentence lay its dab of clay precisely on the right place, making character; to perceive, suddenly, some group in outline against the sky.  Yet if they want violence, I have seen death and murder and suicide all in one room.  One comes in, one goes out.  There are sobs on the staircase.  I have heard threads broken and knots tied and the quiet stitching of white cambric going on and on on the knees of a woman.  Why ask, like Louis, for a reason, or fly like Rhoda to some far grove and part the leaves of the laurels and look for statues?  They say that one must beat one's wings against the storm in the belief that beyond this welter the sun shines; the sun falls sheer into pools that are fledged with willows.  (Here it is November; the poor hold out matchboxes in wind-bitten fingers.)

The Waves 

Olivier Bell suggests that Woolf read the essay "22 Hyde Park Gate," which reveals her sexual abuse by George Duckworth, aloud to the Memoir Club on November 17, 1920. (MOB 162)

Mud Words: November 16, 2015

Photo courtesy of Craig Sargent
She raised her glass to her lips.  And drank.  And listened.  Words of one syllable sank down into the mud.  She drowsed; she nodded.  The mud became fertile. Words rose above the intolerably laden dumb oxen plodding through the mud.  Words without meaning--wonderful words.

Between the Acts (144)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Flower Pictures: November 15, 2015

If I were a painter I should paint these first impressions in pale yellow, silver, and green. There was the pale yellow blind; the green sea; and the silver of the passion flowers. I should make a picture that was globular; semi- transparent. I should make a picture of curved petals; of shells; of things that were semi-transparent; I should make curved shapes, showing the light through, but not giving a clear outline. Everything would be large and dim; and what was seen would at the same time be heard; sounds would come through this petal or leaf--sounds indistinguishable from sights.

"A Sketch of the Past"

Happy Birthday, Georgia O'Keeffe 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tattered Flags of Autumn: November 14, 2015

The autumn trees, ravaged as they are, take on the flash of tattered flags kindling in the gloom of cool cathedral caves where gold letters on marble pages describe death in battle and how bones bleach and burn far away in Indian sands. The autumn trees gleam in the yellow moonlight, in the light of harvest moons, the light which mellows the energy of labour, and smooths the stubble, and brings the wave lapping blue to the shore.

To the Lighthouse

Friday, November 13, 2015

Literary Pilgrimages: November 13, 2015

Haworth, November 1904

I do not know whether pilgrimages to the shrines of famous men ought not to be condemned as sentimental journeys. It is better to read Carlyle in your own study chair than to visit the sound-proof room and pore over the manuscripts at Chelsea. I should be inclined to set up an examination on Frederick the Great in place of an entrance fee; only, in that case, the house would soon have to be shut up. The curiosity is only legitimate when the house of a great writer or the country in which it is set adds something to our understanding of his books. This justification you have for a pilgrimage to the home and country of Charlotte Brontë and her sisters.
(E1 5)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Animal Fantasy: November 12, 2015

[A]s Nurse Lugton snored, the animals heard the wind roaring through the forest.  Down they went to drink, and as they trod, the blue curtain (for Nurse Lugton was making a curtain for Mrs John Jasper Gingham’s drawing-room window) became made of grass, and roses and daisies; strewn with white and black stones; with puddles on it, and cart tracks, and little frogs hopping quickly lest elephants should tread on them.

“Nurse Lugton’s Curtain”  (CSF 10)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Armistice Day: November 11, 2015

I forget my first view of Molly, going down the Strand the night of the Cenotaph; such a lurid scene, like one in Hell.   Soundless street, no traffic; but people marching.  Clear, cold, and windless.  A bright light in the Strand; women crying Remember the Glorious Dead, & holding out chrysanthemums.  Always the sound of feet on the pavement.  Faces bright & lurid.
(D2 79)

On November 11, 1920, King George unveiled the Cenotaph in Whitehall; the Unknown Soldier was also buried in Westminster Abbey.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Underneath the Semblance: November 10, 2015

'"Like" and "like" and "like"--but what is the thing that lies beneath the semblance of the thing?  Now that lightning has gashed the tree and the flowering branch has fallen and Percival, by his death, has made me this gift, let me see the thing. 

The Waves  (118)

RIP:  Sally W. Bryan. My teacher.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Sky Gazing: November 9, 2015

Photo courtesy of Ellen McLaughlin
Ordinarily to look at the sky for any length of time is impossible. Pedestrians would be impeded and disconcerted by a public sky-gazer. What snatches we get of it are mutilated by chimneys and churches, serve as a background for man, signify wet weather or fine, daub windows gold, and, filling in the branches, complete the pathos of dishevelled autumnal plane trees in London squares. Now, become as the leaf or the daisy, lying recumbent, staring straight up, the sky is discovered to be something so different from this that really it is a little shocking. This then has been going on all the time without our knowing it!—this incessant making up of shapes and casting them down, this buffeting of clouds together, and drawing vast trains of ships and waggons from North to South, this incessant ringing up and down of curtains of light and shade, this interminable experiment with gold shafts and blue shadows, with veiling the sun and unveiling it, with making rock ramparts and wafting them away.

“On Being Ill” (E5 198-99)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Post-Impressionist Opening: November 8, 2015

Nasturtiums by EKS

I suppose you have been going everywhere—to the Grafton Galleries, and the Bernard Shaw play. . . . Now that Clive is in the van of aesthetic opinion, I hear a great deal about pictures.  I don’t think them so good as books. But why all the Duchesses are insulted by the post-impressionists, a modest sample of painters, innocent even of indecency, I cant conceive.  However, one mustn’t say they are like other pictures, only better, because that makes everyone angry.
(L1 440)
Letter to Violet Dickinson, November 27, 1910.

November 8, 1910: First post-Impressionist exhibit opened in the Grafton Galleries

Printing Kew: November 7, 2015

School girls at Tropical House, Kew

Imagine six little girls sitting before their easels twenty years ago, down by the side of a lake, painting the water-lilies, the first red water-lilies I'd ever seen. And suddenly a kiss, there on the back of my neck. And my hand shook all the afternoon so that I couldn't paint. I took out my watch and marked the hour when I would allow myself to think of the kiss for five minutes only--it was so precious--the kiss of an old grey-haired woman with a wart on her nose, the mother of all my kisses all my life.
(CSF 91) 

November 8, 1918  Kew Gardens begins to be set up on press at Hogarth House  (D1 216)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Guy Fawkes Night: November 5, 2015

Photo by Craig Sargent
They dropped two legs of a table upon the fire and a scattering of twigs and leaves. All this blazed up and showed faces far back, round, pale, smooth, bearded, some with billycock hats on; all intent; showed too St. Paul's floating on the uneven white mist, and two or three narrow, paper-white, extinguisher-shaped spires.

The flames were struggling through the wood and roaring up when, goodness knows where from, pails flung water in beautiful hollow shapes, as of polished tortoiseshell; flung again and again; until the hiss was like a swarm of bees; and all the faces went out.
Jacob’s Room (75-6)