I am going to found a colony where there shall be no marrying—unless you happen to fall in love with a symphony of Beethoven—no human element at all, except what comes through Art—nothing but ideal peace and endless meditation. This world of human beings grows too complicated. …
(Virginia Woolf, letter to Emma Vaughan, April 1901)
“It's you novelists who're responsible, you know. You've made a world in which everyone is always falling in love— but it's not this world.”
(Leonard Woolf, “A Tale Told by Moonlight”)
Love … and sensual pleasure … are two different phases of a single fact. … The man of superior mind as well as the imbecile … feels the need of the ideal and the need of the sensual; all alike go about in search of this mysterious hermaphrodite, this rara avis which, in a majority of cases, is found to be a work in two volumes. This search is a form of depravity for which society is to blame.
(Balzac, La Cousine Bette) 1
Marriage is a paradox. In legally uniting man and woman, society attempts to author a hermaphrodite: a single, ambivalent being. Yet flesh is an insuperable barrier, as is subjectivity: bodies cannot meld, nor brains join. And “falling in love” means embarking on a self-created fiction that has no simple resolution in marriage but receives there a continuation either fecund or embattled—or both. What began, often, as mutual cathexis is then, with luck, complicated and enriched through dialogue. For Leonard and Virginia Woolf, who experienced barriers to physical conjunction, true intercourse was verbal, and largely expressed through the remarkably fertile literary output of both partners. 2 Marriage, for them, was a cowritten narrative: one work in two volumes. 3 The many actual volumes the couple
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Publication information: Book title: Outsiders Together:Virginia and Leonard Woolf. Contributors: Natania Rosenfeld - Author. Publisher: Princeton University Press. Place of publication: Princeton, NJ. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 18.
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