The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Sunday, March 19, 2006

'Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed'

I am just about done reading Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Woolf has nothing to do with my area of interest, but this is indicative of my readings in general, which are, like Samuel Johnson's, too desultory. Perhaps my lack of focus is why I've had so much trouble getting in.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the dinner scene. The characters of Mr Ramsey and Charles Tansley, both of whom remind me of Mr Causabon in Eliot's Middlemarch, remind me of me, the aspiring scholar who sure as hell tries hard and is honest enough but can't seem to get much done. In a "something like stream of consciousness through the narrative"** when she is looking at Mr Ramsey, Mrs Ramsey (or is it Lily Briscoe) says

"Success would be good for him." That takes the biscuit. I can definitely relate

The title of this post comes from the first line of one of my favourite Dickinson poems.

**Very briefly, the reason why I don't merely call this "stream of consciousness" is because it isn't exactly that. Good examples can be found in Joyce's Ulysses and some of Tolstoy's works, to name but a few. Woolf certainly had the technique in mind, but many will agree that her "stream" is far more organized and less random and chaotic than Joyce's. Also, her "stream" is done through the narration ("She then thought about the day that....which led to..."etc, etc) whereas pure "stream" has no connective "tendons." Read the third chapter (I believe) of Ulysses and compare it with anything Woolf wrote and you'll see the difference. There's a method in Woolf's madness, as it were. Thus, I call Woolf's "something like stream of consciousness." It's probably somewhere in between interior monologue and "stream."


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