Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

80 Handwritten: June 23, 1932

Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

80 Handwritten: June 23, 1932

Article excerpt



Nr. Lewes,



Dear Mrs. Woolf,

I have just read 'The Waves.' Please forgive my presumption, as a stranger, in writing to tell you my appreciation of your strange & lovely book. I have read it twice, but this is only a beginning, because in it are a thousand lovely things that will exist for all time to be read and re-read, for inspiration, for music, always new, always unique.

I imagine that the book must have been written gloriously & exhaustingly in an hour's mood, or through many separate recurrences of just that mood. The book's atmosphere is so constantly & consistently rarified & inspired, tense with the concentration of perception and understanding, that it seems impossible to associate with it all the labour of 'composition,' the pen-chewing, altering and despairing, exhilaration & sense of futility & frustration, & final measured accomplishment. Each sentence in it seems to have been netted intact & perfect from the elves from a flying chariot of inspiration--a mood that lives like a flame for a little while, & then dies. As if the Muse were with you, & returned again, & again. One feels that of ninety-nine per cent of the books one reads no Muse ever visited the author at all. Muses are, after all, hopelessly archaic, like Santa Claus. Nowadays one just writes.

So I am clamorous with admiration, & make no apology! …

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