Blogger Theophrastus got me reading Virginia Woolf again. (Well, he got me re-reading Mrs. Dalloway [my idea] in preparation for reading Michael Cunnigham’s The Hours [again my idea] by getting me to read Cunningham’s op ed essay, “Found in Translation.”) Then I noticed the very modern Virginia Woolf used the phrases kindle, nook, twitter, yahoo, google, and the web.
I’d been paying attention to such, I guess, as I was composing my sms poem for a context. And this week at the library, my daughter found for me a paper book called Twitterature, that pretends to have txtd Mrs. Dalloway and To Kill A Mockingbird (and it killed both Woolf’s and Harper Lee’s classic works by its awful mocking). Anyway, as I was saying, Virginia Woolf used terms in her great literary works and in her letters that the turn of the century info agers recently have claimed for their buzz.
Have a read for yourself:
And everywhere, though it was still so early, there was a beating, a stirring of galloping ponies, tapping of cricket bats; Lords, Ascot, Ranelagh and all the rest of it; wrapped in the soft mesh of the grey-blue morning air, which, as the day wore on, would unwind them, and set down on their lawns and pitches the bouncing ponies, whose forefeet just struck the ground and up they sprung, the whirling young men, and laughing girls in their transparent muslins who, even now, after dancing all night, were taking their absurd woolly dogs for a run; and even now, at this hour, discreet old dowagers were shooting out in their motor cars on errands of mystery; and the shopkeepers were fidgeting in their windows with their paste and diamonds, their lovely old sea-green brooches in eighteenth-century settings to tempt Americans (but one must economise, not buy things rashly for Elizabeth), and she, too, loving it as she did with an absurd and faithful passion, being part of it, since her people were courtiers once in the time of the Georges, she, too, was going that very night to kindle and illuminate; to give her party. (from Mrs. Dalloway)
The whole book is full of nooks and corners which I enjoy exploring. Sometimes one wants a candle in one’s hand though — Thats my only criticism — you’ve left (I daresay in haste) one or two dangling dim places. (in her letter to Vita Sackville-West)
The sounds of laughter, deep genuine laughter from Helen, a derisive twitter from Mr Pepper, came to her across the deeps; but, having loosed her grasp completely, she could not say why popery should make them laugh. (from Melymbrosia)
He withdrew the finger that was still thrust between the pages of Gulliver, opened the book, and ran his eye down the list of chapters, as though he were about to select the one most suitable for reading aloud. [The fulsome embraces of the young female Yahoo at the river arouse all the horrors of miscegenation in Gulliver…] (an allusion to Swift’s novel’s reference to yahoo, in Night and Day)
Arnold Bennett lies, it is said, like the picture of a dying fox in Uncle Remus… [Twel de day Mr. Fox got back fum de woods… an’ sezee, … “its ‘Google-goody!’ an’ its ‘Google-good!'”] (from her letter to Clive Bell referencing Uncle Remus and the Fox)
For it is a perennial puzzle why no woman wrote a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet. What were the conditions in which women lived, I asked myself; for fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in midair by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in. (from A Room of One’s Own)