Monday, November 16, 2015

Quote for Today


Virginia Woolf on Shakespeare

I read Shakespeare directly I have finished writing.  When my mind is agape and red-hot. Then it is astonishing.  I never yet knew how amazing his stretch and speed and word coining power is, until I felt it utterly outpace and outrace my own, seeming to start equal and then I see him draw ahead and do things I could not in my wildest tumult and utmost press of mind imagine.  Even the less known plays are written at a speed that is quicker than anybody else’s quickest; and the words drop so fast one can’t pick them up.  Look at this. “Upon a gather’d lily almost wither’d.”  (That is a pure accident.  I happen to light on it.) Evidently the pliancy of his mind was so complete that he could furbish out any train of thought; and, relaxing, let fall a shower of such unregarded flowers.  Why then should anyone else attempt to write?  This is not “writing” at all.  Indeed, I could say that Shakespeare surpasses literature altogether, if I knew what I meant.

From the Diaries, April 13th, 1930

4 comments:

R.T. said...

Thanks for the posting, James. If that doesn't send people scurrying to their Shakespeare anthologies, then very little else will motivate them. Woolf was such a brilliant diarist, essayist, and critic; I prefer those works to her fiction, which makes me something of a heretic, I suppose. Now, with time on my hands, I scurry to my bookshelf for a reunion with Shakespeare. Thanks, Virginia. Thanks, James.

Brian Joseph said...

That is some quote. After reading it, I think that I will approach Shakespeare little differently from here on.

James said...

R. T.,
Thanks for your astute observation. I could not agree with you more and share your preference for Woolf's nonfiction; although her fiction, in its own challenging way, is always a delight

James said...

Brian,
Thanks for your comment. Woolf's amazement at Shakespeare's facility with words made me stop and wonder as well.