Or is the true self neither this nor that, but something so varied and wandering that it is only when we give the rein to its wishes and let it takes its way unimpeded that we are indeed ourselves? Circumstances compel unity; for convenience’ sake a man must be a whole. The good citizen when he opens hIs door in the evening must be a banker, golfer, husband, father; not a nomad wandering the desert, a mystic staring at the sky, a debauchee in the slums of San Francisco, a soldier heading a revolution, a pariah howling with scepticism and solitude.
Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting: A London Adventure, The Westgate Press, 1930 (1927)
But of course we are all these others. These early Virginia Woolf essays are darkly exquisite, and appear so very modern.
Terrific. Having now read The Voyage Out at last, I think I prefer the early Virginia Woolf to the later.
For me, To the Lighthouse is the peak, and I prefer what preceded it to what came after. The Voyage Out surprised me by how good it was; I had written it off as a minor work.
I feel the same way. To the Lighthouse was my gateway Woolf. I read it at age 17 and just went nuts about it, reading all of Woolf’s other novels except for The Voyage Out, which, like you, I’d assumed would be relatively marginal. Thanks to posts by you and Michelle Bailat-Jones I finally got around to it this year and found it far better than I expected. And I don’t know that I’ve ever read a first novel in which the seeds of the author’s later works were so thoroughly sown. There’s a lightness in it too that seems to have been significantly diminished by the war years and/or whatever Woolf went through during them. You have me interested now to read the early essays.