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Tony Grist

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More About Woolf [Feb. 11th, 2013|10:52 am]
Tony Grist
Woolf was a poet who wrote in prose. To The Lighthouse has the structure of one of those Hardy poems in which stanza one is all about the bright dewy past and stanza two about the blighted present. One place, two moods and several deaths in between. "Down their carved names the raindrop ploughs". 

She wasn't any kind of a story teller. She really has no idea how to hook the reader. I picked up The Years.  Chapter 1 is a diffuse description of London on a spring afternoon. Chapter 2 introduces us to Colonel Blimp. Colonel Blimp might be tolerable if he were funny but he's not and it's very hard to know why we should be interested in him when his creator isn't. 

She was an inspired writer. When the spirit's with her there's no one like her. She leaves you speechless. When the spirit deserts her she's dull- and sometimes worse than dull because she's trying to fake the inspiration she doesn't feel- and falling into pretentiousness and sentimentality.  Her writing either soars or falls flat - just as poetry does.The collected works of the average poet are full of dead wood. We tolerate the Collected Tennyson because it contains Tears idle Tears and a few other things of similar intensity. Woolf's novels are the same. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2013-02-11 11:48 am (UTC)
We looked at her work in the MA course and the academic verdict seems to be that she subverted the form of the novel by getting rid of plot and action, and concentrating on the inner life of the mind, which is what abstract painters were doing at the time, and psycholanalysts for that matter.

In which case she might have been said to have invented the "women's novel" which is all about relationships. The first "chick lit" in fact.

I wouldn't rush to thank her for that.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-11 12:07 pm (UTC)
I think there's something cubist about her work. She's trying to see things from a multiplicity of viewpoints. In a painting you can do this all at once but in a piece of writing it has to be sequential.







Edited at 2013-02-11 12:12 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2013-02-11 01:03 pm (UTC)
Interesting thought.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-11 02:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2013-02-11 10:44 pm (UTC)
Interesting thought.
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From: cmcmck
2013-02-11 11:54 am (UTC)
As a poet for whom Tennyson has been a huge influence, I have to disagree with you on that one. I have a complete complete works with all the juvenilia too and there's precious little dead wood.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-11 12:11 pm (UTC)
Do you like Idylls of the King? I made myself read it once and found it almost unbearably dreadful (and crypto-fascist to boot.)
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From: cmcmck
2013-02-11 12:37 pm (UTC)
I like its structure if not its content. It tends to be the Greek mythological poems like 'The Lotos Eaters' and 'Tithonus' that really impress me deeply.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-11 02:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, those are fine. Tennyson at his best is wonderful.
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