Daily Archives: September 14, 2010

Quotes from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

“They came to her, naturally, since she was a woman, all day long with this and that; one wanting this, another that; the children were growing up; she often felt she was nothing but a sponge sopped full of human emotions.”

“If Shakespeare had never existed, he asked, would the world have differed much from what it is today? Does the progress of civilization depend upon great men? Is the lot of the average human being better now that in the time of the Pharaohs?”

“It was love, she thought, love that never clutch its object; but, like the love which mathematicians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases, was meant to be spread over the world and become part of human gain. The world by all means should have shared it, could Mr Bankes have said why that woman pleased him so; why the sight of her reading a fairy tale to her boy had upon him precisely the same effect as the solution of a scientific problem.”

“Oh, but she never wanted James to grow a day older or Cam either. These two she would have liked to keep for ever just as the way they were, demons of wickedness, angels of delight, never to see them grow up into long-legged monsters.”

“ A little strip of time presented itself to her eyes, her fifty years. There it was before her-life. Life: she thought but she did not finish her thought. She took a look at life, for she had a clear sense of it there, something real, something private, which she shared neither with her children nor husband. A sort of transaction went on between them, in which she was on one side, and life was on another, and she was always trying to get the better of it, as it was of her; and sometimes they parleyed (when she sat alone), she felt this thing called life terrible, hostile, and quick to pounce on you if you gave it a chance.”

“Children never forget. For this reason, it was so important what one said, and what one did, and it was a relief when they went to bed. For now she need not to think about anybody. She could be herself, by herself. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated.”


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To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Truthfully, I fell in love with this book madly in the beginning, from page 1 -18 to be exact, and then even though it wasn’t going extremely downhill for the rest, it was the first 18 pages that really captures me. There were some passages, words, descriptions that I admire…but the journey in finding them was quite long and monotonous. So it’s really hard for me to rate this book. At some point it bore me so much with all the intricate details, e.g. when one time Woolf described a family dinner, where everything seemed too tranquil. There were too many details and body language, you could feel you won’t miss anyone’s heartbeat and breath. I waited patiently for something to happen, but it didn’t! But I still forced myself to continue reading, knowing that I might find a ‘gem’ passage, one that made my heart jumped with delight. Thankfully, this book is quite small, therefore just little patience required to finish the whole book. (Though a thesaurus on hand will be handy to look for those oh-what-the-hell-does-it-mean words, but when you found it you’ll know that no other words could be more suitable to describe such moment!).

For a taste of the book, read this paragraph and if it moved you as much as it did with me, then go on read the whole book. This is the kind of book that you can reread again and again and always finding something that astonish you. BUT just like most good things in life, this book is not meant to be read in a hurry =).

“There he stood in the parlour of the poky little house where she had taken him, waiting for her, while she went upstairs a moment to see a woman. He heard her quick steps above; heard her voice cheerful, then low; looked at the mats, tea-caddies, glass shades; waited quite impatiently; looked forward eagerly to the walk home, determined to carry her bag. Suddenly, in she came, and all at once he realized that it was this: it was this:- she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen.
With the starts in her eyes and veils in her hair, with cyclamen and wild violets – what nonsense was he thinking? She was fifty at least; she had eight children. Stepping through fields of flowers and taking to her breast buds that had broken and lambs that had fallen; with the starts in her eyes and the wind in her hair- He took her bag.”

(I never know that one could use : and – so playfully and properly as this! Also, I need a few moment to take a deep breath when he finally took her bag! That simple action speaks so much about how deeply he feels for her and his longing to do something, anything to show his affectionate. But alas, he did.)

“They went to Hampton Court and he always let her, like the perfect gentleman he was, plenty of time to wash her hands, while he strolled by the river. That was typical of their relationship. Many things were left unsaid. Then they strolled through the courtyards, and admired, summer after summer, the proportions and the flowers, and he would tell her things, about perspective, about architecture, as they walked, and he would stop to look at a tress, or the view over the lake, and admire a child in a vague aloof way that was natural to a man who spent so much time in laboratories that the world when he came out seemed to dazzle him, so that he walked slowly, lifted his hands to screen his eyes and paused, with his head thrown back, merely to breathe the air.”

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