Saturday, August 24, 2013

On a Languid Summer Saturday

While browsing the stacks of favorite books on my many shelves, I came across Virginia Woolf's small masterpiece, The Waves, this morning.

We've all read it but as a writer seeking the secrets of true writing, The Waves has special meaning, and it takes a slow summer Saturday to sit down and appreciate it. Other days, other months are too distracting, but a steamy August Saturday lets a little more light and warm air swirl around us, so we sit, and we read amid the garden's glory.

"There are hours and hours,' said Rhoda, 'before I can put out the light and lie suspended on my bed above the world, before I can let the day drop down, before I can let my tree grow, quivering in green pavilions above my head. Here I cannot let it grow. Somebody knocks through it, They ask questions, they interrupt, they throw it down."

Have you ever noticed the chapters in The Waves? The author mentions she wrote to a rhythm and not to a plot. This tiny book explores Woolf's individual and collective identity, moving through the passage of time and the cycle of nature as her six main characters develop from childhood to maturity.

Each chapter begin in a delightful style, using the sun to pace the reader's way through the story, as I did on this languid day...

The sun had not yet risen.
The sun rose higher.
The sun rose.
The sun, risen, no longer couched on a green mattress darting a fitful glance through watery jewels, barred its face and looked straight over the waves.
The sun had risen to its full height.
The sun no longer stood in the middle of the sky.
The sun had now sunk lower in the sky.
The sun was sinking.
Now the sun had sunk.

It may interest you to know that Virginia Woolf worried that The Waves would be 'fundamentally unreadable' and yet also 'my first work in my own style'."

It is a rare Saturday that this blogger can to sit on the porch with this old favorite book, and slow down enough to read it in a new way. If you don't a copy of the Waves, ride your bike to the library or check Amazon. they have many copies at true bargain prices here.

Helen Gallagher

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