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Day 12

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Part III, Chapters 3-4

May 12, 2023 by Mona Simpson

Chapter 3

Let no one ever say Virginia Woolf is a “domestic” novelist (implication: a merely domestic novelist.) Her characters grapple with all the eternal questions.

“What is the meaning of life? That was all—a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other; herself and Charles Tansley and the breaking wave; Mrs. Ramsay bringing them together; Mrs. Ramsay saying ‘Life stand still here’; Mrs. Ramsay making of the moment something permanent (as in another sphere Lily herself tried to make of the moment something permanent)—this was of the nature of a revelation.”

This seems to me—always—Woolf’s revelation.

The Moment was all; the moment was enough. [The Waves]

“Life stand still here, Mrs. Ramsay said. ‘Mrs. Ramsay! Mrs. Ramsay!’ she repeated. She owed it all to her.

Chapter 4

The children, now teenagers, have only one parent. They’ve lost two siblings.

“Cam now felt herself overcast, as she sat there among calm, resolute people and wondered how to answer her father about the puppy; how to resist his entreaty—forgive me, care for me; while James the lawgiver, with the tablets of eternal wisdom laid open on his knee (his hand on the tiller had become symbolical to her), said, Resist him. Fight him. He said so rightly; justly. For they must fight tyranny to the death, she thought.”

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