Monday, December 19, 2011

Taking the salt cellar

Early mornings are the best time for scanning the patient. I can lie in bed and go through what needs to be written, what needs to be moved where. Does this part need to go right at the beginning, or towards the end?

This reminded me of Lily Briscoe, the painter in To The Lighthouse, and her moment of epiphany in the middle of dinner.

In a flash she saw her picture and thought, Yes, I shall put the tree further in the middle; then I shall avoid that awkward space. That's what I shall do. That's what has been puzzling me. She took up the salt cellar and put it down again on a flower in pattern in the table-cloth, so as to remind herself to move the tree.

Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse (1927)

More than anything else, I think this novel is about the pleasures and problems of creation. It's a book about writing a book (the one that's being written), and the way memory and time works on the imagination.


  1. OH the postmodernism of that last sentence. It is beautiful in itself. I know I will adore this book.

  2. ... but Woolf was a Modernist, not a PMist ... perhaps I am though (a PM). The book is also about her parents, and her dreadful tyrannical father; maybe I'm overemphasising the other aspect of it.

    I could lend you my 40 yo copy with all the bits pertinent to feminism underlined, so you wouldn't need to (underline it), but sadly, it's a rather unsavoury item, splotched with my menstrual blood (it's a long story, or at least, a story). More fastidious women than myself would have thrown it out, but I find it rather post-modernly amusing to own a copy of TTL stained with menstrual blood (sorry, but there are no men visiting this attic, are there?)

  3. I didn't mean the last sentence of the quote, I meant your last sentence, in the whole post: "It's a book about writing a book (the one that's being written), and the way memory and time works on the imagination."

    As much as I would love to see a copy of TTL splotched with menstrual blood and with the feminist bits underlined, I do have my own copy sitting on my bookshelf. Maybe I will even read it one day. :)