Val (valaria) wrote in frcs,

English help needed, anyone?

Okay, so I belong to this book forum,, and they have a discussion on Virginia Woolf, which I normally don't pay attention to. But I went and posted a question. This might be of interest to people, it might not.
Vally126 - 11:15am Mar 6, 2004 PDT(#1138 of 1141) Mark | Delete
"Sometimes a girl just likes to know that her man is fully capable of swinging on a chandelier, should the need arise." --CharisM

Hi. I don't normally visit this thread, but I have to write a paper on this really annoying commentary about To the Lighthouse, which basically stated that people only profess to like the book because it is regarded as a great work of literature. I don't agree with it, because I do actually think it is a good book. I was wondering, though, did anyone here enjoy it? If you did, Why? (I'm sorry if that sounds like an high school writing prompt, but I would appreciate the help.)

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mef - 11:22am Mar 6, 2004 PDT(#1139 of 1141) Mark
"Break Into The Game Industry: How to Get A Job Making Video Games" by Ernest Adams (

Man oh man, do I wish I could help. I didn't much like "To the Lighthouse" until I had to re-read it to write a paper on it myself! And then, somehow, rereading it -- I've decided that for me, all Woolf's work is better when re-read than when read -- it clicked and I got what she was doing, what (at least to the extent of my understanding) the Modernist schtick was. And I'm fairly into Woolf now, but only in terms of what it was she was trying to achieve and the experimental ways she tried to achieve those goals -- I admire what she was doing tremendously, but I would never read Woolf just because it was enjoyable. I don't have the gene for it.

I read Lawrence Durrell quoting Wilde that the best way to hate art is to appreciate it intellectually, so I guess I'd actually qualify as *hating* Woolf -- because that's exactly how I appreciate her. It's a head thing, not a heart thing, with me, although I do think that individual sentences or images of hers can take the breath away. On the whole, I don't enjoy her novels!

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skolkin - 02:18pm Mar 6, 2004 PDT(#1140 of 1141) Mark
author of "The Fragile Mistress", Glad Day Books(due out soon)

I thoroughly enjoy Virginia Woolf. It's her language and her depth. The startling way in To The Lighthouse she unearths another insight, another character's inner life. I love, too, the imagistic beauty of her work. In fact, there isn't a writer I enjoy more. I completely disagree with Mef in regard to her attitude towards an analysis of the self and its relation to the world. There is where she ignites the page. Her psychological complexities. I know that she hated Victorian medicine and psychology but I seriously doubt she would not have given a nod to Freud if she had known more about his theories. She ached for the novel to reveal the unconscious mind and simply did not live long enough to partake of the wealth of psychoanalytic thought that was to come.

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mef - 03:56pm Mar 6, 2004 PDT(#1141 of 1141) Mark
"Break Into The Game Industry: How to Get A Job Making Video Games" by Ernest Adams (

I completely disagree with Mef in regard to her attitude towards an analysis of the self and its relation to the world
...which I didn't mention at all...or perhaps that's what you disagree with? That I didn't mention it?

Ah -- I see. You're referring to a previous message, perhaps? I did say (I think -- not going to take the time to go back) that she began to read Freud after she met him. And it's clear from "To the Lighthouse" that she thought about his work and used some of the concepts. Elizabeth Abel's book is the best feet-on-the-ground analysis of Woolf in the light of Freud that I've seen, but there is a LOT of garbage out there on the subject.

As it happens, I would agree that had she lived, she probably would have gained more from her reading of Freud. You're assuming, I think, that I would not agree, from what I said about the evidence of what she wrote before she met him and really read him?

EDIT: Afterthought -- that's not to say I think she'd buy it all, hook, line and sinker. But I think she'd take it in, digest it, and get whatever was helpful out of it for her work. As for a therapeutic method -- I don't know that she would ever have come around. This is a woman who actually, as an adult, had healthy teeth pulled because that was thought to be a cure for mental illness, but didn't attempt to get any psychoanalytical treatment, even tho she was well-placed to do it, having relatives and friends who were psychoanalysts (trained under and analyzed by Freud in Vienna). There's something in Leonard Woolf's collected letters about why she didn't go for it...can't remember now just what...I think it was that she wouldn't do it, he wasn't inclined to push the subject and didn't think it would do any good. Other sources have said that he thought a 'cure' of that sort might harm her creativity -- I dunno.

There may be more responses later as well. Have a nice weekend, folks!
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