What could be more charming than a boy before he has begun to cultivate his intellect? He is beautiful to look at; he gives himself no airs; he understand the meaning of art and literature instinctively; he goes about enjoying his life and making other people enjoy theirs. Then they teach him to cultivate his intellect. He becomes a barrister, a civil servant, a general, an author, a professor. Every day he goes to an office. Every year he produces a book. He maintains a whole family by the products of his brain poor devil! Soon he cannot come into a room without making us all feel uncomfortable; he condescends to every woman he meets, and dares not tell the truth even to his own wife; instead of rejoicing our eyes we have to shut them if we are to take him in our arms. True, they console themselves with stars of all shapes, ribbons of all shades, and incomes of all sizes but what is to console us?
Excerpt from “A Society”.
The book includes:
The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection: ★★★★★
A Society: ★★★★★ + ★
The Mark on the Wall: ★★★★ Review here
Solid Objects: ★★★★
Lappin and Lapinova: ★★★★
I started this book on Woolf’s 136th birthday. In this collection, her language fluctuates between lyricism and harshness as she describes, in great detail, the different worlds of the people she created based on the sensations, desires and restraints around her. As one deconstructs her short stories, everything – a simple idea, an innocent detail, a silly plan; all of them told using her inexhaustible supply of wit and sensitivity – turns into a profound analysis of society, of the collective and individual psyches of its citizens.
As ever, Woolf’s writing is an invitation to explore the depths of human emotion. In her case, I can’t possibly refuse.
* Actual rating: 4.6 stars.
Photo credit: Book cover via Goodreads.