Monday, March 28, 2011

70 years ago today

Virginia Woolf died.

I know more about her life and death via Vita Sackville-West than through her literature, A Room of One's Own being the only work of hers I've completed. Orlando and Flush I've begun many times yet they remain unfinished. I'll work harder this year. Secretly, I wonder if she represents that part of the canon more readers claim to have read than have actually done so. Is that a male point of view, or just plain stupid. I'd admit to either, and would appreciate a guiding light.

Knowing you're becoming unhinged is a terrible cross to bear.

In her last note to her husband she wrote:

Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier 'til this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.

Virginia then put on her overcoat, filled the pockets with stones and walked into the nearby River Ouse. Her body wasn't recovered for 3 weeks. Hopefully, she found the peace she searched so long for.



JMW said...

I have always loved "A Room of One's Own." Virgnia's letter to her husband is so sad - the fact that she knew her illness was overtaking her. I can't imagine. She certainly left a literary legacy that will never be forgotten.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Seeing Ginny Woolf's picture drew me in. I have read this heartbreaking farewell before. I think you're probably right about who reads her. Forget everything else and read the "Time Passes" section of "To the Lighthouse."

preppyplayer said...

So articulate, so sad.

Toad said...

Thank you Jacqueline, I will. I have reserved the next available copy from our library.

Divine Theatre said...

I have never read her work.
What a sense of peace she must have had at the end...there is always an end, by the way.

Mistress Cynica said...

Mrs. Dalloway is one of my favorite books. Read it, then Michael Cunningham's The Hours. To the Lighthouse is wonderful also.
That letter is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I, too, hope she found peace.