‘Look. This is the truth.’

Not my copy of ‘The Waves’. Alas.

“But how to describe a world seen without a self? There are no words. Blue, red — even they distract, even they hide with thickness instead of letting the light through. How describe or say anything in articulate words again? — save that it fades, save that it undergoes gradual transformation, becomes, even in the course of one short walk, habitual — this scene also. Blindness returns as one moves and one leaf repeats another. Loveliness returns as one looks with all its train of phantom phrases. One breathes in and out substantial breath; down in the valley the train draws across the fields lop-eared with smoke.

But for a moment I had sat on the turf somewhere high above the flow of the sea and the sounds of the woods, had seen the house, the garden, and the waves breaking. The old nurse who turns the pages of the picture-book had stopped and had said, ‘Look. This is the truth.’”

[Firmly reinstated as my favourite of VW’s novels. But I like to imagine the one that was never written: “On May 26, 1924, Virginia Woolf notes in her journal: ‘My thoughts are completely occupied by The Hours‘”. — Henri Lefebvre, The Missing Pieces.]

4 thoughts on “‘Look. This is the truth.’

  1. I need to read The Waves and Jacob’s Room. I really enjoyed Mrs. Dalloway, and I loved The Years though I know many do not consider the latter Woolf’s strongest book. I know so many adore To the Lighthouse. I skimmed it in college in my British literature course, and I reread it recently. It did not resonate with me like it does with so many other people though I do admire sections of it.


    • The more that I read Woolf, the more The Waves became my favourite, as much as I still admire To the Lighthouse. I reread Mrs. Dalloway recently and liked it even more on re-re-reading. I’ve not yet read The Years, Night and Day, or Between the Acts. I don’t know why. I suppose I will one day. I need to reread Orlando, which I disliked first time around. I quite enjoyed The Voyage Out. I loved Jacob’s Room, but recall little beyond its themes and must also reread.


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