"Only she thought life --- and 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 with her husband. A sort of transaction went on between them, in which she was on one side, and life was on another, and she always trying to get the better of it, as it was of her; and sometimes they parleyed (when she sat alone); there were, she remembered, great reconciliation scenes; but for the most part, oddly enough, she must admit that she felt this thing that she called life terrible, hostile, and quick to pounce on you if you gave it a chance. There were the eternal problems: suffering; death; the poor. There was always a woman dying of cancer even here. And yet she had said to all these children, You shall go through it all. To eight people she had said relentlessly that (and the bill for the greenhouse would be fifty pounds). For that reason, knowing what was before them --- love and ambition and being wretched alone in dreary places --- she had often the feeling, Why must they grow up and lose it all? And then she said to herself, brandishing her sword at life, Nonsense. They will be perfectly happy. And here she was, she reflected, feeling life rather sinister again, making Minta marry Paul Rayley; because whatever she might feel about her own transaction, she had had experiences which need not happen to everyone (she did not name them to herself); she was driven on, too quickly she knew, almost as if it were an escape for her too, to say that people must marry; people must have children." (Woolf 60)
- an excerpt from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
This is the most unforgettable lines i have ever read in my life. It is a wonderful excerpt about Life in the eyes of the book's main character Mrs. Ramsay. I dropped the book after reading it and sent a text message to both my parent to know if they are okay. I also sent a text message to my friend Keith who is still suffering Chicken Pox to know if he was okay.
Reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is life changing. Although I am still at page 65 anticipating chapter 12, I consider it as one of the most unforgettable experiences I have ever had. The book is so absorbing you can feel it eating you word by word. It has a power to transform you, to pierce into you with its clarity and clairvoyant depiction of the characters.
It has been four years since I attempted to read one of Mrs. Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway. At first it was hard. Very hard, really to read a stream of consciousness. Maybe because i am used to reading fully defined plots, especially those Russian plots of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky that i certainly love and adored. Anna Karenina, that voluminous piece of writing by Leo Tolstoy is breakaway. It connects the realist mode of writing to that of Woolf's stream of consciousness. It's an essential book to read, and should be read first, before attempting to read that of Woolf's or Joyce's or Faulker's perhaps. It is reading to highest of all levels.
How should one read To the Lighthouse?
Well take my advice and loose yourself, free yourself to be absorbed into the thoughts of characters. Be a willing participant. You have to read as if you are swimming into a deep wide lake. You have all the oxygen but you need a full concentration when you plunge into it. It seeks into the deepest of your emotions, it breaks you away from the world, it gobbles you up. I certainly cannot measure how deeply it affected me, reading is a leisure but Virginia Woolf took it as an introspection, an investigation of ones soul, very much like meditation.
It is a beautiful, beautiful book!