VIRGINIA WOOLF: A CONGENIAL SPIRIT

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“I have written myself out of breath – 30,000 words in 8 weeks, and now want to dive and steep myself in other peoples books. I want to wash off all my own ideas. So I have been reading and reading, and making up a new little book for the Hogarth Press (if it survives) on six novels. A good idea, d`you think? Picking six novels from the mass, and saying everything there is to be said about the whole of literature in perhaps 150 pages. I`ve been reading Balzac, and Tolstoy, practically every scene in Anna Karenina is branded on me, though I`ve not read it for 15 years. That is the origin of all our discontent. After that of course we had to break away. It wasn`t Wells, or Galsworthy or any of our mediocre wishy washy realists: it was Tolstoy. how could we go on with sex and realism after that? How could they go on with poetic plays after Shakespeare? It is one brain, after all, literature; and it wants change and relief. The text book writers cut it up all wrong (the telephone: Leonard`s mother: is sending us a cake -) and where was I? Literature is all one brain………”

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The above letter was written on the 8th January 1928, and was part of Virginia Woolf`s ongoing correspondence to her on/off lover, Vita Sackville-West of her plan to write a short critique of 6 novels: it was a plan which she did not carry out. The Woolf mind was a teeming, volcanic mass of thought and ideas: partly in order to keep the said mind occupied and away from darker, more self-harming areas which would inevitably occur if she had even the briefest moment of self-contemplation.

Her letters to her friends, family and acquaintances are a spontaneous, exhilarating, sharply witty, and at times, flirtatious and always, always deeply moving and insightful barometer of her fragile mental condition. Her wide ranging interest and concerns over cultural, artistic, social, national and personal matters provides us with an intimate dissection of the mind of a generous and brilliant soul. A genius, whose flame still burns as bright as a super-nova.

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