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


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...

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