A Portrait of the Artist as Semi-Unwashed Essay Writer: Still life featuring Woolf and Forster, St Andrews, March 2013
I don’t know if it shows, but Modernism is my whole life at the moment.
Spring Break is very much proving to be a complete misnomer - I maintain that it is neither spring (at any given time there is at least one kind of precipitation hammering at my window, including, but not limited to, snow and hail), nor am I remotely having a break from anything other than human contact.
Ah well, best crack on.
This is an apology post. I’m sorry for being utterly absent for nearly three weeks, leaving you all to deal with the abject misery that must be surviving without Rosa Reads. It was irresponsible and cruel of me.
On the off-chance that you managed to get through this traumatic time and are still out there, here are some things you might like to know:
So, that’s my current literary situation in four bullet points. I really hope to get a couple of reviews done and posted here before Spring Break is over, and I’ll try and post other tidbits as well. Thanks for sticking around.#St Andrews #books #reading #lit #university #Virginia Woolf #Victor Hugo
Book Dates: recommended reads for Valentine’s Day.
Today in St Andrews we have been treated to a beautiful Valentine from the sun, meaning that all I really want to do is lie around by the window and read The Waves. Obviously I would not be venturing outside, as despite lovely appearances, I am sure it is still freezing cold. We had snow yesterday - I don’t trust Scottish weather.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), good ol’ Virginia is not my only Valentine this year. I also have a lunchdate with two of my charming ladyfriends, meaning I do actually have to leave the flat.
With my desire for a purely literary Valentine’s Day in mind, here are my reading recommendations for every V-Day situation:
Victims of unrequited love: Either feed the flames of your obsession and get all Wuthering Heights up in here, or aim for a happy ending in which they love you too in the tried-and-tested Pride and Prejudice.
Get over them: The Accidental Tourist helped me through the worst breakup of my life, so I stand by it. Food, friends, and masturbation also help.
Lost love: The Great Gatsby if you plan on winning them back (success not guaranteed, stay away from pools), or A Single Man if you really want to sob uncontrollably. Please don’t take any advice on dealing with grief from this book, though.
Sexually frustrated: Give Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber a go. Short, sexy and ultimately disturbing, so it’ll either help out…or remove from you any desire you might have for other people for good.
The love that dare not speak its name: Suffering because you feel like you have to hide your relationship? Check out Tipping the Velvet for some fluffy Victorian lesbian romance, The French Lieutenant’s Woman for convention-defying hetero stuff, or any Sherlock Holmes novel if you’re a fan of the least-concealed gay love story in literary history.
Forever alone: So was Pi. He dealt with it. You can too. (Yes, I’m going to keep recommending this book until everyone ever has read it.)
Happy couples in love: Really? You guys haven’t got anything better to do besides read? Alright, in that case grab yourself a copy of The Faber Book of Love Poems, read each other some of the hot stuff until you can’t stand it any longer and begin taking each other’s clothes off.
For anyone: To return to dear Woolfy, Orlando has been described as “the longest love-letter in English literature”, meaning Vita Sackville-West got the best literary Valentine ever.
So, whether you have a book date or a real one, look after yourselves and have a love-filled Valentine’s Day.
“Do not move, do not let the swing door cut to pieces the thing we have made, that globes itself here, among these lights, these peelings, this litter of bread crumbs and people passing. Do not move, do not go. Hold it forever.”
Virginia Woolf, The Waves [Vintage Classics, 2004, p.95]
As usual my family know how to make my birthday and Christmas excellent. These are my literary gifts!
Pictured: almost everything Virginia Woolf has ever written, a set of mini notebooks with Penguin Classics designs, a signed book of sonnets by James Nash, who happens to be my neighbour.
Not pictured: Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies (seen in this video), a copy of Life of Pi (which I’ve unfortunately already read), John Burnside’s A Summer of Drowning (from my buddy Holly), Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (from my flatmate Sarah), a bilingual edition of Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to my Native Land (from my friend Morgan, who’s studying in Paris at the moment, and bought it at Shakespeare and Co. for me, along with one of their tote bags).
So, I reckon I’m pretty lucky to have such considerate and thoughtful friends and family, who clearly know exactly how to make me happy! (I am arguably easily pleased)
Happy Holidays from Rosa Reads!
“Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded.”
- Virginia Woolf (via bookmania)
Review: The Lady in the Looking-Glass
This is a collection of short stories (part of the Penguin Mini Modern Classics range), each of which I shall be reviewing individually.
The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection
An intricately detailed, beautifully written description of a room, a mirror, the lady of the house and (of course, for this is Woolf) her thoughts on this particular summer afternoon. And really merely that. The carefully crafted vision is shattered (mirror-like, duh) at the end, and the reader is left with…well, very little actually.
A generally comedic and slightly surreal first person account of the forming and eventual disintegration of a women’s club. It didn’t leave much of an impression, if I’m honest, but one can see how it tied in to the issues of the day. Think Mrs Dalloway toned way way way down.
The Mark on the Wall
I enjoyed this mainly because I felt that Woolf was almost taking the piss out of her own literary technique. It is so utterly stream-of-consciousness and plotless - so completely given over to inner speculation, description and thought processes - that I almost* felt like I should abandon my love of modernism and return to the solid platform of traditional storytelling. But then Woolf provides an ending so painfully self-aware and undermining that it brings the whole thing firmly back into the realm of smart, experimental writing.
This was my favourite of the collection, and yet it was also the least Woolfian, perhaps because the protagonist was male, which is pretty uncommon in her work (if anyone so much as thinks about citing Orlando to me at this point I will come down on them like a tonne of Orlando-fangirling bricks). I don’t have much to say about Solid Objects (often a problem when I like stuff), other than the fact that I couldn’t decide whether it was gloriously hopeful or heartbreakingly sad. Decide for yourselves - prizes** for those who convince me one way or the other.
* Read: “not at all”, but whatever.
** Nope.#The Lady in the Looking-Glass #Virginia Woolf #books #reading #review