Monday, 30 January 2012

To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

What can I say about this that has not already been said? (When did that ever stop me?) Save to say that, as always, I have trouble getting started. The first section of Part One always seems to me to be much longer than it really is. Perhaps an indication of the extreme compression involved in the writing. There is so much to take on board at the beginning of the work that It makes the rest seem daunting, when in fact when has once found one’s balance, so to speak, the rest flows like... well... thought.

The best part of the book as far as I am concerned is the short, middle section. Ten years in fifteen pages and the sense of change and decay in an otherwise unchanging universe are conveyed with all the intensity of a poem – a nocturne in which the bursts of light are not stars or comets, but the falling of shells and the shock of sudden death.

That it is, for me, the best part of the book does not detract from the context in which it sits. Rather it enhances the preceding and following sections, providing a different perspective on the scene; perhaps even the perspective of the scene itself – a meditation on how the places we live view the passing of time. A triumphant work.