Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

32 Handwritten: December 4, 1928

Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

32 Handwritten: December 4, 1928

Article excerpt

21 Hyde Park Place


Dec. 4 1928

Dear Virginia

Your brilliant fantasy 'Orlando' raises this puzzle among a lot of others--most likely intended--what are the proper limits of incredibility?--or perhaps rather--why does the reader swallow the greater impossibilities and stick at smaller incongruities? --

Clearly you are free to play the devil with Greenwich time in a world where a man can turn into a woman--but to rub it in by mentioning thirty years--just that number--as his/her age at the critical point sets the reader a counting: Why, he must have been born about the time of the Civil War--and a page to Queen Elizabeth?--and what was Charles II about to send such a veteran old man on an embassy?

But I mean irrelevant little impossibilities--Cheroots in Constantinople temp. Charles II? They are of South-Indian or Philippine origin, unknown in Europe till c. 1725 < as that joyful book Hobson-Jobson shall fructify unto you>--and I don't believe Turks ever smoked them. One feels like exclaiming--now I know she's lying (for the whole thing rests on Lady ?'s recollection) (We are not told by what name she was called), nor her exact rank.

And scarlet trousers in Hyde Park--I never saw the like even in India where one sees most things of most colours. There is or was one Hussars regiment with red--not scarlet--trousers (The Cherubims per metatheism hope Sister Modesty be not looking over your shoulder)--Undress trousers of the Guard are blueblack with narrow red stripe for foot, broad for horse--As for policemen carrying a royal warrant even if it came through the Home Office--there she must be chaffing: and she has had experience enough of family business to know without my very learned friend Sayer's aid that no warrant or charter--nothing short of Act of Parliament--can make or alter a settlement. …

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