To the Lighthouse Quotes by Virginia Woolf
animesost.info: Beneath the Lighthouse eBook: Julieanne Lynch: Kindle Store. that will left the hairs on my neck on end and goose bumps crawling on my flesh. Names, Texts, and WWI in To the Lighthouse Now, of course, is the time to .. surface of the sea as if something had boiled and bled, invisibly, beneath,” or later .. End and To the Lighthouse is to be found in comparing Lily's relationship with. quotes from To the Lighthouse: 'What is the meaning of life? Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again “So that is marriage, Lily thought, a man and a woman looking at a girl throwing a ball”.
Summer '07 Reading: 'To The Lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf [Archive] - Literature Network Forums
Read it for the first time a few months ago, and the characters are most interesting. Since we already have a Wilde read next month. Can't remember if I mentioned this before but I like your avatar very much, Nossa! D I actually had to go through nearly 30 avatars to choose this one for this forum Glad you liked it: D SFG75 The very end was dignified in its simplicity and emphasis of stepping forward.
I'll definitely be joining in! Of course, judging by the reception of the book, and the fact that it has touched so many people, we have our answer. I don't mind reading book, W. Woolf is already looking like a man more than a woman, at least more manly than D. Oooh those English are weirdos their men are more feminine than their women, and their women are more masculine than their men!
If you want to know what i think about feminism read related thread; "Will femminism dismantle patriarchy? I am not against women who defend human rights, but basically i am against these women who are ashamed of their gender, and wants to be like men in all ways. I will review it, or read once again as we go along. I am quite interested in disgussing it. It should be a good discussion with this many people joining in. Could someone explain or point me the appropriate thread how this works.
Glad you will be joining us, Scharphedin. Ok, actually Charles Baudelaire told it, not me. The fact that Baudelaire said it does not make it any less misogynistic and unfair. Judging authors based on their gender and their looks? That speaks for the reader's intellectual and maturity level rather than author's, I believe. If you can pass the fact Virginia Woolf does not look like Jodie Foster http: She could write good book.
Though i didn't understand anything from Jodie Foster. It says "document not found".: I look forward to re-reading To the Lighthouse and hopefully contributing to the discussion. It has been almost ten years, but I did at one point read a number of Woolf's books, as well as a couple of biographical books. As such things go, I have forgotten many of the details of both the books and Woolf's personal life.
However, during the weeks, when I was reading Woolf, I became very taken with her -- her writing was often very beautiful, and I found most of her books fascinating. More than that, her credo, when it came to reading and recording personal experience journal writing made a deep impression on me.
Woolf studied the literature of the ages, and thought about her readings in her journals -- some of this work later became A Common Reader, which I remember as a particularly exciting book as I was undertaking similar personal reading projects at the time.
With respect to personal experience, Woolf apparently held that a day is not lived, until you have recorded it in writing. As someone who has never been able to maintain a journal, this insistence on thinking in written words, deeply impressed me, and impresses me still. Again, most of the details of what I read I no longer retain, but the portrait that I maintain of Woolf above and beyond anything else is of a lady, who had an immense passion for the limitless possibilities and phenomena of the world, and that of literature in particular.
I thought she came across as very sweet and beautiful, and, a woman with a gigantic imagination and mental presence. I liked to look at the photographs in the biographies, and to imagine from the words on the pages of the books, what a day in the country Woolf loved to walk with Virginia would have been like, and what kind of conversation I would have carried with her.
I tried to penetrate the customs of dress and social mores of her time, and to meet her as someone in her day.
I am sure I would have found her very attractive As another note on the photos of Woolf, I think many of the later ones are of a woman along in years and, remember, people aged sooner in Woolf's daywho, for most of her life suffered extreme bouts of mental depression, so severe in fact that they affected her physically.
You aren't English, are you? I loved the photos you posted and have never seen the first one before - it is marvelous. I read "To the Lighthouse" and "Mrs. Dalloway" a few years back and liked them. I found the style very different from what I am used to reading. I thought some passages were extraodinarily sensitive and beautiful. The way she strings words together is pure genius. I had heard or read that "To the Lighthouse" is basically autobiographical about her family's yearly outing to a seaside house they owned.
I thought this of particular interest. Do you know anything about this; if so could you you expand on the idea? I really look forward to re-reading To the Lighthouse, and will have to, in order to contribute meaningfully to any conversation on Woolf or this particular novel. I think the biographical elements in To the Lighthouse are generally recognised; I also think that most of Woolf's other fiction substantially draws on her personal life, and the personal life she did not have, but imagined that she would have liked to have had if that makes sense.
What I do remember is that the Stephens family did own a property in the Hebrides where To the Lighthouse takes place, and the makeup of the Stephens family did correspond relatively closely to that of the novel. Basically my acquaintance with Woolf is based on weeks of vigourous reading, and I admit that to me at this point Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves bleed together in memory -- if what memory I still have of these books serve me right, they are also quite similar in style, whereas the others I read -- Orlando, The Common Reader, A Room of One's Own and Between the Acts did not quite employ the same fragmented style stream-of-consciousness - Common Reader and Room of One's Own not being fiction at all, in fact.
Both were good, although I remember being most taken with the former, as it was written by her nephew and not surprisingly had a more personal feel without sacrificing good scholarship.
The hard part for many readers, I imagine -- and, especially if reading these books for school -- are the analyses of these long passages, where thoughts, and emotions, and events from the lives of several characters and different times flow together. Personally, I am not really good at this kind of analysis or, all that interestedchosing instead to surrender to intuition at some point along the way, and letting the work and the words of the author carry me, not necessarily needing to intellectually comprehend every paragraph.
The insight into the author's life on the other hand interests me, and maybe that takes the place of hard academic analysis for me.
In any event, it will be fun to read along with the forum in this manner, and hopefully I will be able to contribute more along the way. In closing, I return the compliment, Janine. I have read parts of the Women In Love thread, and I am impressed with the level of insight you, and several other forum members, have into the novel, and Lawrence's body of work and life in general.
I do not think it makes all that much sense to talk about and look at Virginia, or any other individual of the past for that matter, in the context of the present fashions, when it comes to physical appearance. Reading about her life made me a kind of sad. It's a pity conditions got so bad, the mental depression and all that she had to commit suicide Turk You aren't English, are you? I have hair on my face. And you know there are plenty of fake beards available out in the market! I think I have read it that Virginia Woolfe uses 'stream of consciousness'.
Can anyone explain to me what exactly does 'stream of consciousness' mean? I have tried to look up its definition on wikipedia but it doesn't make any sense. Wow, you read all that in weeks. I am looking forward to discussing To The Lighthouse with you and all the others.
It is beautifully written, but I'm not sure I would call the style fragmented.
animesost.info: Beneath the Lighthouse (): Julieanne Lynch: Books
It seems to flow like water from here to there rather than breaking into pieces. But those are just descriptive metaphors we each give her style. I think we are referring to the same thing. But more on that when we start. I won't be starting for a bit.
But we do have all summer. This should be a great discussion. Basically think it to write someone's mind. Like you are in someone's mind and watching his thoughts. Actually, I am a very slow reader, but I basically had the leisure to do nothing else at the time than to read summer break from schooland so I did. At this point in time, the same undertaking would probably take me several months.
What a sad state of affairs. You are right, "fragmented" is not the best description, hence the " stream-of-consciousness. I could not put it down, and it literally had me crying with laughter at times. Pensive, I do not know the exact definition of "stream-of-consciousness," but the term fits. Woolf's prose is exactly that. One thought or event on the page will lead to a memory of another time and place or event, and without any real transition, the book will move on to that other time and place.
You are at a flowershop, you are looking at the flowers, wondering which ones to take home -- your eyes fall upon a bouquet of red roses, and your mind wanders to someone's funeral, where someone placed roses on the grave, and you think about what the mourners were saying at the funeral.
In your memory, someone is describing an afternoon of the past, where the deceased was singing at a garden party, and you think back to that party on that afternoon, and you are recalling the final examns that were occupying your mind at the time, as the now deceased family member was singing. It goes something like that, but not quite as schematic. Woolf will sometimes write this way, allowing the thoughts and actions of several characters to interweave. It can be quite a euphoric experience to read.
There are, apparently, a lot of her own personal writing that spoke highly of her research into the area and all of the scientific advances being made at the turn of the century, a time heralded by the legendary Charles Darwin. It is continually recycled and that all of our world is a constant fluctuation of heat and matter, moving in and out of different systems—including that oh so special system called human beings.
Woolf seemed particularly haunted by the idea that what seemed to be a solidified conscious experience was actually a continual fluctuation of matter, on a physical level, and the consequential thoughts, worries and sensual bombardment, on the experiential level.
These new ideas destabilized previous notions about our awareness of the world as the absolute avenue to truth and the reality of this world. Thus, it is in this tension that the characters of To the Lighthouse find themselves in. They are obsessed with creating still images out of the cacophony of a thermodynamic universe, trying to cling to old notions of a person still being that solidified center of the world.
A character will revel in the beauty and wonderment of a single moment, only to have it slip away from them and be washed away in the tumultuous seas of conscious experience. Although our minds create perfected still images out of the constant transformation of matter around, these still images skip away into the past before they can be fully grasped, fully made whole: Never for a moment does the specifics of the scientific theory engulf the work.
Instead it remains above the surface, leaving its impact upon you emotionally.
They must walk behind him carrying brown paper parcels. But they vowed, in silence, as they walked, to stand by each other and carry out the great compact — to resist tyranny to the death. So there they would sit, one at one end of the boat, one at the other, in silence. They would say nothing, only look at him now and then where he sat with his legs twisted, frowning and fidgeting, and pishing and pshawing and muttering things to himself, and waiting impatiently for a breeze.
And they hoped it would be calm. They hoped he would be thwarted. They hoped the whole expedition would fail, and they would have to put back, with their parcels, to the beach. Instantly, as if some great strain had been relieved, Mr. Ramsay uncurled his legs, took out his tobacco pouch, handed it with a little grunt to Macalister, and felt, they knew, for all they suffered, perfectly content.
Now they would sail on for hours like this, and Mr. Ramsay would ask old Macalister a question — about the great storm last winter probably — and old Macalister would answer it, and they would puff their pipes together, and Macalister would take a tarry rope in his fingers, tying or untying some knot, and the boy would fish, and never say a word to any one. James would be forced to keep his eye all the time on the sail. For if he forgot, then the sail puckered and shivered, and the boat slackened, and Mr.
So they heard Mr. Ramsay asking some question about the great storm at Christmas. Ramsay followed him, turning his head. He had seen four men clinging to the mast. Then she was gone. He liked that men should labour and sweat on the windy beach at night; pitting muscle and brain against the waves and the wind; he liked men to work like that, and women to keep house, and sit beside sleeping children indoors, while men were drowned, out there in a storm.
So James could tell, so Cam could tell they looked at him, they looked at each otherfrom his toss and his vigilance and the ring in his voice, and the little tinge of Scottish accent which came into his voice, making him seem like a peasant himself, as he questioned Macalister about the eleven ships that had been driven into the bay in a storm.
He looked proudly where Macalister pointed; and Cam thought, feeling proud of him without knowing quite why, had he been there he would have launched the lifeboat, he would have reached the wreck, Cam thought. He was so brave, he was so adventurous, Cam thought. There was the compact; to resist tyranny to the death.
Their grievance weighed them down. They had been forced; they had been bidden. He had borne them down once more with his gloom and his authority, making them do his bidding, on this fine morning, come, because he wished it, carrying these parcels, to the Lighthouse; take part in these rites he went through for his own pleasure in memory of dead people, which they hated, so that they lagged after after him, all the pleasure of the day was spoilt.
Yes, the breeze was freshening. The boat was leaning, the water was sliced sharply and fell away in green cascades, in bubbles, in cataracts.
Cam looked down into the foam, into the sea with all its treasure in it, and its speed hypnotised her, and the tie between her and James sagged a little. It slackened a little. She began to think, How fast it goes. Where are we going? But he began to think as he steered that he might escape; he might be quit of it all. They might land somewhere; and be free then. Both of them, looking at each other for a moment, had a sense of escape and exaltation, what with the speed and the change.
But the breeze bred in Mr. She raised herself reluctantly and looked. But which was it? She could no longer make out, there on the hillside, which was their house. All looked distant and peaceful and strange. The shore seemed refined, far away, unreal. Already the little distance they had sailed had put them far from it and given it the changed look, the composed look, of something receding in which one has no longer any part. Which was their house? She could not see it. He had found the house and so seeing it, he had also seen himself there; he had seen himself walking on the terrace, alone.
He was walking up and down between the urns; and he seemed to himself very old and bowed. Cam half started on her seat. It shocked her — it outraged her. The movement roused her father; and he shuddered, and broke off, exclaiming: They looked at the island. But Cam could see nothing.
She was thinking how all those paths and the lawn, thick and knotted with the lives they had lived there, were gone: Did she really think they lived right out there? And he pointed again, and showed her where their house was, there, by those trees. He wished she would try to be more accurate, he said: Yet she did not know. And seeing her gazing, with her vague, now rather frightened, eyes fixed where no house was Mr. Ramsay forgot his dream; how he walked up and down between the urns on the terrace; how the arms were stretched out to him.
He thought, women are always like that; the vagueness of their minds is hopeless; it was a thing he had never been able to understand; but so it was.
It had been so with her — his wife. They could not keep anything clearly fixed in their minds. But he had been wrong to be angry with her; moreover, did he not rather like this vagueness in women?
It was part of their extraordinary charm. I will make her smile at me, he thought. She was so silent. He clutched his fingers, and determined that his voice and his face and all the quick expressive gestures which had been at his command making people pity him and praise him all these years should subdue themselves. He would make her smile at him.
He would find some simple easy thing to say to her. For, wrapped up in his work as he was, he forgot the sort of thing one said. There was a puppy. They had a puppy. Who was looking after the puppy today?
I shall be left to fight the tyrant alone. The compact would be left to him to carry out. Cam would never resist tyranny to the death, he thought grimly, watching her face, sad, sulky, yielding.
And as sometimes happens when a cloud falls on a green hillside and gravity descends and there among all the surrounding hills is gloom and sorrow, and it seems as if the hills themselves must ponder the fate of the clouded, the darkened, either in pity, or maliciously rejoicing in her dismay: He said so rightly; justly. For they must fight tyranny to the death, she thought. Of all human qualities she reverenced justice most. Her brother was most god-like, her father most suppliant.
And to which did she yield, she thought, sitting between them, gazing at the shore whose points were all unknown to her, and thinking how the lawn and the terrace and the house were smoothed away now and peace dwelt there. And what was she going to call him? He had had a dog when he was a little boy, called Frisk.
They look down he thought, at their knitting or something. Then suddenly they look up. There was a flash of blue, he remembered, and then somebody sitting with him laughed, surrendered, and he was very angry. It must have been his mother, he thought, sitting on a low chair, with his father standing over her. He began to search among the infinite series of impressions which time had laid down, leaf upon leaf, fold upon fold softly, incessantly upon his brain; among scents, sounds; voices, harsh, hollow, sweet; and lights passing, and brooms tapping; and the wash and hush of the sea, how a man had marched up and down and stopped dead, upright, over them.
Meanwhile, he noticed, Cam dabbled her fingers in the water, and stared at the shore and said nothing. Well, if Cam would not answer him, he would not bother her Mr. Ramsay decided, feeling in his pocket for a book. But she would answer him; she wished, passionately, to move some obstacle that lay upon her tongue and to say, Oh, yes, Frisk.
She wanted even to say, Was that the dog that found its way over the moor alone? But try as she might, she could think of nothing to say like that, fierce and loyal to the compact, yet passing on to her father, unsuspected by James, a private token of the love she felt for him.
Her father was feeling in his pockets; in another second, he would have found his book. For no one attracted her more; his hands were beautiful, and his feet, and his voice, and his words, and his haste, and his temper, and his oddity, and his passion, and his saying straight out before every one, we perish, each alone, and his remoteness.
He had opened his book. They have no suffering there, she thought. It was the boat with greyish-brown sails, which she saw now flatten itself upon the water and shoot off across the bay. There he sits, she thought, and the children are quite silent still.
And she could not reach him either. The sympathy she had not given him weighed her down. It made it difficult for her to paint. She had always found him difficult. She never had been able to praise him to his face, she remembered. And that reduced their relationship to something neutral, without that element of sex in it which made his manner to Minta so gallant, almost gay. He would pick a flower for her, lend her his books. But could he believe that Minta read them? She dragged them about the garden, sticking in leaves to mark the place.
But he had pulled his hat half over his forehead; he was asleep, or he was dreaming, or he was lying there catching words, she supposed.
Ramsay on the beach; the cask bobbing up and down; and the pages flying. Why, after all these years had that survived, ringed round, lit up, visible to the last detail, with all before it blank and all after it blank, for miles and miles?
Is it a cork? Heaven be praised for it, the problem of space remained, she thought, taking up her brush again.
- To the Lighthouse
- Beneath the Lighthouse end scene
- To the Lighthouse Quotes
It glared at her. The whole mass of the picture was poised upon that weight. It was to be a thing you could ruffle with your breath; and a thing you could not dislodge with a team of horses. And she began to lay on a red, a grey, and she began to model her way into the hollow there. At the same time, she seemed to be sitting beside Mrs. Ramsay on the beach. Is it a cask? And she began hunting round for her spectacles.
And she sat, having found them, silent, looking out to sea. And Lily, painting steadily, felt as if a door had opened, and one went in and stood gazing silently about in a high cathedral-like place, very dark, very solemn. Shouts came from a world far away. Steamers vanished in stalks of smoke on the horizon. Charles threw stones and sent them skipping.
She was glad, Lily thought, to rest in silence, uncommunicative; to rest in the extreme obscurity of human relationships. Who knows what we are, what we feel? Who knows even at the moment of intimacy, This is knowledge? Ramsay may have asked it seemed to have happened so often, this silence by her side by saying them? The moment at least seemed extraordinarily fertile. She rammed a little hole in the sand and covered it up, by way of burying in it the perfection of the moment.
It was like a drop of silver in which one dipped and illumined the darkness of the past. Lily stepped back to get her canvas — so — into perspective.
It was an odd road to be walking, this of painting. Out and out one went, further, until at last one seemed to be on a narrow plank, perfectly alone, over the sea. And as she dipped into the blue paint, she dipped too into the past there. Ramsay got up, she remembered. It was time to go back to the house — time for luncheon. And they all walked up from the beach together, she walking behind with William Bankes, and there was Minta in front of them with a hole in her stocking. How that little round hole of pink heel seemed to flaunt itself before them!
How William Bankes deplored it, without, so far as she could remember, saying anything about it! It meant to him the annihilation of womanhood, and dirt and disorder, and servants leaving and beds not made at mid-day — all the things he most abhorred.
He had a way of shuddering and spreading his fingers out as if to cover an unsightly object which he did now — holding his hand in front of him. And Minta walked on ahead, and presumably Paul met her and she went off with Paul in the garden. The Rayleys, thought Lily Briscoe, squeezing her tube of green paint. She collected her impressions of the Rayleys. Their lives appeared to her in a series of scenes; one, on the staircase at dawn.
Paul had come in and gone to bed early; Minta was late. Paul came out in his pyjamas carrying a poker in case of burglars. Minta was eating a sandwich, standing half-way up by a window, in the cadaverous early morning light, and the carpet had a hole in it. But what did they say? Lily asked herself, as if by looking she could hear them.
Minta went on eating her sandwich, annoyingly, while he spoke something violent, abusing her, in a mutter so as not to wake the children, the two little boys. He was withered, drawn; she flamboyant, careless. For things had worked loose after the first year or so; the marriage had turned out rather badly. Not a word of it was true; she had made it up; but it was what she knew them by all the same.
She went on tunnelling her way into her picture, into the past. She saw him sitting in the corner of some lugubrious place where the smoke attached itself to the red plush seats, and the waitresses got to know you, and he played chess with a little man who was in the tea trade and lived at Surbiton, but that was all Paul knew about him.
And then Minta was out when he came home and then there was that scene on the stairs, when he got the poker in case of burglars no doubt to frighten her too and spoke so bitterly, saying she had ruined his life. At any rate when she went down to see them at a cottage near Rickmansworth, things were horribly strained. Paul took her down the garden to look at the Belgian hares which he bred, and Minta followed them, singing, and put her bare arm on his shoulder, lest he should tell her anything.
Minta was bored by hares, Lily thought. But Minta never gave herself away. She never said things like that about playing chess in coffee-houses. She was far too conscious, far too wary. But to go on with their story — they had got through the dangerous stage by now.
She had been staying with them last summer some time and the car broke down and Minta had to hand him his tools. He sat on the road mending the car, and it was the way she gave him the tools — business-like, straightforward, friendly — that proved it was all right now.
Far from breaking up the marriage, that alliance had righted it. They were excellent friends, obviously, as he sat on the road and she handed him his tools. So that was the story of the Rayleys, Lily thought. She imagined herself telling it to Mrs. Ramsay, who would be full of curiosity to know what had become of the Rayleys.
She would feel a little triumphant, telling Mrs. Ramsay that the marriage had not been a success. But the dead, thought Lily, encountering some obstacle in her design which made her pause and ponder, stepping back a foot or so, oh, the dead!
They are at our mercy. Ramsay has faded and gone, she thought. We can over-ride her wishes, improve away her limited, old-fashioned ideas. She recedes further and further from us. And one would have to say to her, It has all gone against your wishes.
Life has changed completely. At that all her being, even her beauty, became for a moment, dusty and out of date. For a moment Lily, standing there, with the sun hot on her back, summing up the Rayleys, triumphed over Mrs. Ramsay, who would never know how Paul went to coffee-houses and had a mistress; how he sat on the ground and Minta handed him his tools; how she stood here painting, had never married, not even William Bankes.
Ramsay had planned it. Perhaps, had she lived, she would have compelled it. What was this mania of hers for marriage? Lily wondered, stepping to and fro from her easel. Suddenly, as suddenly as a star slides in the sky, a reddish light seemed to burn in her mind, covering Paul Rayley, issuing from him. It rose like a fire sent up in token of some celebration by savages on a distant beach.
She heard the roar and the crackle. The whole sea for miles round ran red and gold. Some winey smell mixed with it and intoxicated her, for she felt again her own headlong desire to throw herself off the cliff and be drowned looking for a pearl brooch on a beach. And the roar and the crackle repelled her with fear and disgust, as if while she saw its splendour and power she saw too how it fed on the treasure of the house, greedily, disgustingly, and she loathed it.
She had only escaped by the skin of her teeth though, she thought. She had been looking at the table-cloth, and it had flashed upon her that she would move the tree to the middle, and need never marry anybody, and she had felt an enormous exultation. She had felt, now she could stand up to Mrs. Ramsay — a tribute to the astonishing power that Mrs. Ramsay had over one.
Do this, she said, and one did it. Even her shadow at the window with James was full of authority.
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She remembered how William Bankes had been shocked by her neglect of the significance of mother and son. Did she not admire their beauty? She did not intend to disparage a subject which, they agreed, Raphael had treated divinely.
She was not cynical. Thanks to his scientific mind he understood — a proof of disinterested intelligence which had pleased her and comforted her enormously. One could talk of painting then seriously to a man. Indeed, his friendship had been one of the pleasures of her life. She loved William Bankes. They went to Hampton Court and he always left her, like the perfect gentleman he was, plenty of time to wash her hands, while he strolled by the river.
That was typical of their relationship. Many things were left unsaid. Then they strolled through the courtyards, and admired, summer after summer, the proportions and the flowers, and he would tell her things, about perspective, about architecture, as they walked, and he would stop to look at a tree, or the view over the lake, and admire a child — it was his great grief — he had no daughter in the vague aloof way that was natural to a man who spent so much time in laboratories that the world when he came out seemed to dazzle him, so that he walked slowly, lifted his hand to screen his eyes and paused, with his head thrown back, merely to breathe the air.
Then he would tell her how his housekeeper was on her holiday; he must buy a new carpet for the staircase. Perhaps she would go with him to buy a new carpet for the staircase. And once something led him to talk about the Ramsays and he had said how when he first saw her she had been wearing a grey hat; she was not more than nineteen or twenty. She was astonishingly beautiful. There he stood looking down the avenue at Hampton Court as if he could see her there among the fountains. She looked now at the drawing-room step.
She sat musing, pondering she was in grey that day, Lily thought. Her eyes were bent. She would never lift them. Yes, thought Lily, looking intently, I must have seen her look like that, but not in grey; nor so still, nor so young, nor so peaceful. The figure came readily enough. She was astonishingly beautiful, as William said. But beauty was not everything. Beauty had this penalty — it came too readily, came too completely. It stilled life — froze it.
One forgot the little agitations; the flush, the pallor, some queer distortion, some light or shadow, which made the face unrecognisable for a moment and yet added a quality one saw for ever after. It was simpler to smooth that all out under the cover of beauty. Who could tell her?
Who could help her? Against her will she had come to the surface, and found herself half out of the picture, looking, little dazedly, as if at unreal things, at Mr. He lay on his chair with his hands clasped above his paunch not reading, or sleeping, but basking like a creature gorged with existence. His book had fallen on to the grass.
But one only woke people if one knew what one wanted to say to them. And she wanted to say not one thing, but everything.
Little words that broke up the thought and dismembered it said nothing. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low. Then one gave it up; then the idea sunk back again; then one became like most middle-aged people, cautious, furtive, with wrinkles between the eyes and a look of perpetual apprehension.
For how could one express in words these emotions of the body? She was looking at the drawing-room steps; they looked extraordinarily empty. The physical sensations that went with the bare look of the steps had become suddenly extremely unpleasant. To want and not to have, sent all up her body a hardness, a hollowness, a strain. And then to want and not to have — to want and want — how that wrung the heart, and wrung it again and again!
It had seemed so safe, thinking of her. Ghost, air, nothingness, a thing you could play with easily and safely at any time of day or night, she had been that, and then suddenly she put her hand out and wrung the heart thus.
Suddenly, the empty drawing-room steps, the frill of the chair inside, the puppy tumbling on the terrace, the whole wave and whisper of the garden became like curves and arabesques flourishing round a centre of complete emptiness. How do you explain it all?
For the whole world seemed to have dissolved in this early morning hour into a pool of thought, a deep basin of reality, and one could almost fancy that had Mr. Carmichael spoken, for instance, a little tear would have rent the surface pool.
A hand would be shoved up, a blade would be flashed. It was nonsense of course. A curious notion came to her that he did after all hear the things she could not say. He was an inscrutable old man, with the yellow stain on his beard, and his poetry, and his puzzles, sailing serenely through a world which satisfied all his wants, so that she thought he had only to put down his hand where he lay on the lawn to fish up anything he wanted.
She looked at her picture. Yet it would be hung in the attics, she thought; it would be rolled up and flung under a sofa; yet even so, even of a picture like that, it was true. Her eyes were full of a hot liquid she did not think of tears at first which, without disturbing the firmness of her lips, made the air thick, rolled down her cheeks.
She had perfect control of herself — Oh, yes! Was she crying then for Mrs. Ramsay, without being aware of any unhappiness? She addressed old Mr. What was it then? What did it mean?
Could things thrust their hands up and grip one; could the blade cut; the fist grasp? Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world? No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle, and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air? Could it be, even for elderly people, that this was life?
For one moment she felt that if they both got up, here, now on the lawn, and demanded an explanation, why was it so short, why was it so inexplicable, said it with violence, as two fully equipped human beings from whom nothing should be hid might speak, then, beauty would roll itself up; the space would fill; those empty flourishes would form into shape; if they shouted loud enough Mrs. The mutilated body it was alive still was thrown back into the sea.
That anguish could reduce one to such a pitch of imbecility, she thought! Anyhow the old man had not heard her. He remained benignant, calm — if one chose to think it, sublime. Heaven be praised, no one had heard her cry that ignominious cry, stop pain, stop! She had not obviously taken leave of her senses. No one had seen her step off her strip of board into the waters of annihilation. She remained a skimpy old maid, holding a paint-brush.
And now slowly the pain of the want, and the bitter anger to be called back, just as she thought she would never feel sorrow for Mrs.