Plath-Woolf

14May08

There are too many things in this world for one to be completely and utterly ravaged by loss. (or so I say until … whenever)

My heartbreak over losing Shame has been diminished greatly by two other books: Q’s Legacy by Helene Hanff and Orlando by Virginia Woolf. The first, I chose from Zat’s bookshelf the morning after the KL trip; the second, I borrowed a few weeks ago from the library and forgot about until I spotted it at the end of my bed this week and realised I should read it before it’s overdue (which it already is I think).

The first one got me all hot and bothered about writing (writing writing) (as you can see in the post below, for which I will send you the password if you want to read some nonsense), but left me quite unsatisfied. I think maybe it’s because she lived in New York, and all the other New York-set books I’ve read always tell me something about what the city was like during that period and I got no sense of that at all from her book, or even what she got up to in the city besides her theatre work and writing in her apartment. I suppose I felt cheated? Nevermind. I’m still aching to read 84 Charing Cross Road.

But Orlando … oohhh, Orlando. I forgot how delicious it is to read Virginia Woolf. It’s delicious reading her when she’s rambling (yes I know there’s a word for it, but rambling it is nonetheless) and even more delicious when that rambling is reigned in, and the sentences flow not because it is a stream of thoughts, but because all the words and letters are all so perfectly meant for each other.

Funnily enough, all last night and this morning while I was reading, I kept mixing Plath and Woolf – I felt upset that the Woolf children had to wake up to see their mother’s head in the oven (Virginia was the one with the stones in the pockets).

Also, unconsciously remembering that Gwyneth Paltrow-as-Sylvia Plath film, I imagined that Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando while sitting at the table where she always wrote, early in the morning, being as productive as she could whilst she could (before the kids and the husband woke up).

Wikipedia tells me Virginia Woolf didn’t have any children. It also tells me that “in The Reptile Room, the second novel in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, there is mention of a snake called the Virginian Wolfsnake. The only thing said about it is that it should never, ever be allowed near a typewriter.”

: )

I feel like going to Jstor and looking for a Plath-Woolf comparative lit paper.

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6 Responses to “Plath-Woolf”

  1. 1 yasmine

    i nak tengok your story!

  2. Oh, fascinating the mix-ups between Plath and Woolf you have! I know exactly what you are talking about, being a fan of both writers. I always wondered if Plath ever read Woolf—and this question was answered in the Plath biograph ‘Rough Magic’ when it lists, at one point in her life, Woolf being one of her most influential writers.

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