- “The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”
- Virginia Woolf quotes
- The Short Stories Of Virginia Woolf: "The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages."
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Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses. One has to secrete a jelly in which to slip quotations down people's throats - and one always secretes too much jelly. Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded.
We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print. Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do. Boredom is the legitimate kingdom of the philanthropic. The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their anonymity. The beautiful seems right by force of beauty, and the feeble wrong because of weakness. Nothing induces me to read a novel except when I have to make money by writing about it. I detest them. If we help an educated man's daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war?
To depend upon a profession is a less odious form of slavery than to depend upon a father. Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
Let a man get up and say, "Behold, this is the truth", and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say. Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible. Language is wine upon the lips. Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.
The older one grows, the more one likes indecency.
“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”
We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods. It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top. I read the book of Job last night, I don't think God comes out well in it. On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple: one must be a woman manly, or a man womanly. These are the soul's changes.
Virginia Woolf quotes
I don't believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism. The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages. If one could be friendly with women, what a pleasure - the relationship so secret and private compared with relations with men. Why not write about it truthfully?
This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room. It is far more difficult to murder a phantom than a reality. One likes people much better when they're battered down by a prodigious siege of misfortune than when they triumph. As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.
I want the concentration and the romance, and the worlds all glued together, fused, glowing: have no time to waste any more on prose. The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.
The Short Stories Of Virginia Woolf: "The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages."
Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works. Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry. It seems as if an age of genius must be succeeded by an age of endeavour; riot and extravagance by cleanliness and hard work. Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title. It is curious how instinctively one protects the image of oneself from idolatry or any other handling that could make it ridiculous, or too unlike the original to be believed any longer.
The strange thing about life is that though the nature of it must have been apparent to every one for hundreds of years, no one has left any adequate account of it. Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. What I cannot thus eliminate, what I must, head down, eyes shut, with the courage of a battalion and the blindness of a bull, charge and disperse are, indubitably, the figures behind the ferns, commercial travellers.
There I've hidden them all this time in the hope that somehow they'd disappear, or better still emerge, as indeed they must, if the story's to go on gathering richness and rotundity, destiny and tragedy, as stories should, rolling along with it two, if not three, commercial travellers and a whole grove of aspidistra. If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.
A whole lifetime was too short to bring out, the full flavour; to extract every ounce of pleasure, every shade of meaning. In the past, the virtue of women's writing often lay in its divine spontaneity But it was also, and much more often, chattering and garrulous In future, granted time and books and a little space in the house for herself, literature will become for women, as for men, an art to be studied.
Women's gift will be trained and strengthened. The novel will cease to be the dumping-ground for the personal emotions. It will become, more than at present, a work of art like any other, and its resources and its limitations will be explored. Think what it would mean if you could teach, or if you could learn the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper you'd pick up, would tell the truth, or create beauty.
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But there is, it would appear, some obstacle in the way, some hindrance to the teaching of words. Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. There are moments when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy that we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now.
Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare's plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in midair by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to the grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in. The strongest natures, when they are influenced, submit the most unreservedly: it is perhaps a sign of their strength.
Outwardly, what is simpler than to write books? Outwardly, what obstacles are there for a woman rather than for a man?
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- The Short Stories Of Virginia Woolf.
- Virginia Woolf Quotes About Women & Feminism:.
Inwardly, I think, the case is very different; she has still many ghosts to fight, many prejudices to overcome. Indeed it will be a long time still, I think, before a woman can sit down to write a book without finding a phantom to be slain, a rock to be dashed against. And if this is so in literature, the freest of all professions for women, how is it in the new professions which you are now for the first time entering?
Theirs, too, is the word-coining genius, as if thought plunged into a sea of words and came up dripping. Once you begin to take yourself seriously as a leader or as a follower, as a modern or as a conservative, then you become a self-conscious, biting, and scratching little animal whose work is not of the slightest value or importance to anybody. Though we see the same world, we see it through different eyes. A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. I would venture to guess than Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.
Happiness is to have a little string onto which things will attach themselves.
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As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world. Humour is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue. The beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.