Category Archives: Woolf

Illuminations

Those passages in novels in which the laboured-over story gathers itself into fleeting moments of clarity and illuminates itself in all directions. Idea of a book containing only such passages – something like Stephen Hero’s book of epiphanies, or a collection of Woolf’s ‘little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark’. But life rightly barges into our rooms and pulls us out of our ideas, into more little miracles.

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The idea has come to me that what I want now to do is to saturate every atom. I mean to eliminate all waste, deadness, superfluity: to give the moment whole; whatever it includes… Waste, deadness, come from the inclusion of things that do not belong to the moment; this appalling narrative business of the realist: getting on from lunch to dinner: it is false, unreal, merely conventional. Why admit anything to literature that is not poetry — by which I mean saturated?

— Woolf, diary (via here)

So she stood thinking. Without making any thought precise – for she was one of those reticent people whose minds hold their thoughts enmeshed in clouds of silence – she was filled with thoughts. Her mind was like her room, in which lights advanced and retreated, came pirouetting and stepping delicately, spread their tails, pecked their way; and then her whole being was suffused, like the room again, with a cloud of some profound knowledge, some unspoken regret, and then she was full of locked drawers, stuffed with letters, like her cabinets.

— Woolf, ‘The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection’