Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

102 *Typed: [1937]

Academic journal article Woolf Studies Annual

102 *Typed: [1937]

Article excerpt

83, Fellows Road N.W.3


Dear Virginia,

No, I can't lie down under your accusation of scurviness: If you can think what I say about 'The Years' is of any value--here goes.

In the first place I have a monstrous prejudice in favour of dramatic word-writing - and a great shyness of the linings of people's minds. Dickens is the sort of writer I read for real pleasure, and Peacock too. So long as human beings are regarded as social types, or wits, or rational beings, or grotesques, I can read on without discomfort. It's when they begin to come to life, when the cadres of the novel ceases to be a stage proscenium, when, in fact, the writing invites you to be a participator rather than an onlooker that I frown and stamp and pretend to feel ill. 'The Years' had just that effect on me, and all your books do--more than most 'interior' novels because the twist and the outlook is more recognizable to me than Joyce's or anyone else's. I felt, after reading 'The Years', almost as if I were a school-girl caught reading a sex encyclopaedia. A mixture of fear, guilt, and exultation on one hand, and an effort to pooh-pooh and distract myself on the other. A few minutes after I finished the book I felt very angry. I felt got at, and hit under the belt. I thought--hell take it I could have been going on with reading for Leonard's book, I could have gone on trying to mend the light,--anything--but now I've gone and got myself firmly stuck in a particularly potent sentimental reverie--B-F-H- ect ect. So I went round and argued at poor Baba (who staunchly defended you) till she was haggard and speechless,--and then went and found a worthy bolshie friend and made her drink more sherry than was good for her complexion. After this anti-social behaviour I felt very relieved--and less like a Hemingway heroine. (Bloody Christ I gone all to pieces inside Mike--etc.) So how can you expect a sober criticism of 'The Years'?

I read 'The Years' again later in little sips, keeping a mental pin in my leg to prevent myself going off again. …

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