Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

64 Typed; Signed: November 20, 1931

Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

64 Typed; Signed: November 20, 1931

Article excerpt

November 20, 1931.

My dear Mrs. Woolf:

Since I respect you more highly than any other living writer, the enthusiasm with which I look forward to the publication of your works is boundless. For me to criticize you may be as presumptuous as taking the Almighty to task, but I feel compelled to voice my disappointment in The Waves in this, the first communication I have ever addressed to an author. I almost wish all the copies of your new book could be recalled and that you might see fit to spend several months more in revising what could easily be an even finer thing than To the Lighthouse. Certainly, there are passages in The Waves which are magnificent, bits of prosepoetry which exceed in beauty and imagery any that you have offered us heretofore. But one leaves the book without having heard near enough of what one would think you would be so eager to impart, remembering details which might have been omitted and labored portions of the descriptive interludes which tended to throw the design as a whole off balance and destroy its singleness of effect. Sometimes I felt you were doing what I thought you totally incapable of doing: writing words which did not matter.

You were wise in including such an individual as Bernard to the throw the personalities of the other five characters into higher relief, but there was far too much told from his point of view. Your submerging yourself in him page after page (they seemed much longer than I suppose they really were) was like lowering a radiant, heavenly light into a Mason jar. …

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