Next page 1891 This time the image is of a London trolleybus , the kind that ran on tram tracks and were pulled by horses There s a woman sitting on the upper deck She looks uncomfortable travelling shoulder to shoulder with strangers but she needs to get to her workplace She also looks like she doesn t speak about her work to many people, least of all to her father when she diligently returns home every afternoon at five o clock to serve his tea.
1907 In the centre of the photograph a woman pours tea for her daughter The daughter stares at her mother pouring tea as if she is imagining the scene as a painting Another daughter sits in a window seat holding a book and a pen in her hands, staring into the distance She looks like she may be thinking about writing.
1908 An old man is lying in a bathchair, covered in a blanket On a table beside him is a tea pot and some newspaper cuttings, one a photograph of a woman with a brick in her hand, another an obituary for the King.
1911 A group of women taking tea on a terrace One of them is brown from the sun She s been travelling on her own in Spain and Italy There is an owl in the background.
1913 An elderly woman pours tea for herself in a little room on the top floor of a lodging house in Wandsworth using the old china tea pot she saved from the house at St John s Wood where she worked all her life.
1914 Some people sitting in a caf and, yes, you ve guessed it, they are drinking tea actually I can t do this any This review is turning into a farce and Virginia Woolf s book doesn t deserve that treatment May 8th 2015 The Years has been the hardest of Woolf s novels for me to get through and it has also been a challenge to write about, such a challenge in fact that I ve been forced to do something I rarely do before writing a review read up on the writer s life to help me understand her work I bought A Writer s Diary a few days ago, and started it in the middle 1932 the year Woolf began The Years Here s an entry from the autumn of 1932 I have entirely remodelled my Essay It s to be called The Pargiters The Years and to take in everything, sex, education, life etc and come, with the most powerful agile leaps, like a chamois, across precipices from 1880 to here and now Everything is running of its own accord into the stream, as with Orlando What has happened of course is that after abstaining from the novel of fact all these years since Night and Day in 1919 I find myself infinitely delighting in facts for a change, and in possession of quantities beyond counting though I feel now and then the tug to vision, but resist it This is the true line, I am sure, after The Waves this is what leads naturally on to the next stage the Essay novel.
The Essay she is talking about at the beginning of that quote is Professions for Women published in 1931, which was the inspiration for both The Years and Three Guineas, the Essay novel she spoke of at the end As we can see, she had great plans for The Years and wrote nearly two hundred thousand words very quickly In 1933, she wrote in her diary I visualise this book now as a series of uneven time sequences a series of great balloons, linked by straight passages of narrative I can take liberties with the representational form which I didn t dare when I wrote Night and Day.
She began editing that enormous mass of words soon afterwards but the process took years during which she lurched between loving and hating every scene she had written It appears that she reduced the body of the novel quite a bit during the rewrites, although it is still one of her longest She removed many of the themes that would have been of interest to us today, the sex, education, life themes which she had spoken of with such enthusiasm at the beginning The result is a series of beautifully written vignettes, but without a strong underlying theme to knit them together that s why my initial attempt to review this book failed I couldn t find a common thread and was left with nothing butan elaborate teapot view spoiler hide spoiler That is true, Rose thought as she took her pudding That is myself Again she had the odd feeling being two people at the same time.
It has been months since I read The Years There have been many books in my life Light bulbs switched on and off over my head They glow and brightness hot to the touch I don t know how long they ll last but they often come back when I had been trying too hard to get inside other windows Hey, you forgot about it and left all of the lights on This next part might sound like a backhanded compliment In my little book loving heart that could it does not feel like a backhanded compliment I started to forget about The Pargiters when I was still reading about them There were men and their faces look like dream faces If you try to look at them up close you don t see anything I didn t care about the end or what happened to them You could sweep everyone out onto lit up streets in the safety of lit up faces for all I could care I was already in the other room with the lights left on When I was reading The Years I had a mental conversation going with myself about how I would explain my apathy about how it all turned out and be believed that they and the book had meant something to me I could have stopped reading it and never found out what happened What really happens, anyway People die and the next day and what s left is the other stuff that I m going to think about anyway You want your supper, do you said Maggie She went into the kitchen and came back with a saucer of milk There, poor puss, she said, putting the saucer down on the floor She stood watching the cat lap up its milk, mouthful by mouthful then it stretched itself out again with extraordinary grace.
What followed this has come back to bite me, to sting me, to warm me and confuse me When I wasn t trying to hold it I almost had why I had not felt such acute envy It was this next part Sara, standing at a little distance, watched her Then she imitated her There, poor puss, there, poor puss, she repeated As you rock the cradle, Maggie, she added Maggie raised her arms as if to ward off some implacable destiny then let them fall Sara smiled as she watched her then tears brimmed, fell and ran slowly down her cheeks But as she put up her hand to wipe them there was a sound of knocking somebody was hammering on the door of the next house The hammering stopped Then it began again hammer, hammer, hammer.
It s that Sara imitates her This much I know When reading some other books these days that made me feel the loss of I don t know what I wondered if it was that security that I knew they had people who loved them a soul mate Another part of me to have faith in H.
D had an idea I wanted to run away with as my own to have the dog of your own in HERmione I wanted that dog but make it a mental Mariel dog and it would be as if you could feel your own soul But I m not jealous of Maggie it is something about how Sara measures where Maggie fits and it is her measuring that makes it so Someone loves you I don t want to say it is altogether that because it isn t It would also ruin it I like to think about this scene in The Years I ll be some place I shouldn t be seen having entire other worlds going on in my head surely I look off I wish I could make the gesture, to feed the kitten and be in the warm kitchen and some place safe.
Maggie must have been some kind of great hope for the Pargiters When she s a baby there is a deal made about purchasing her a necklace Eleanor must pick it out The Colonel will pay for it See to it that it is done This special important Pargiter baby must have the necklace If they were in a garden their plants would turn to her as if she was the sun Maybe they all reenacted the future kitchen scene through things before there was a hungry kitten to be fed in place of the warm family of her own in the future The safety of her assured warm place in their hearts turned me to her cousins and sister who must make their own, when they can, when they are lucky Before there was a who we want to be in young Pargiter flesh there was an angry young woman who secretly wishes that her mother would just die already I could hear her angry heart beating in her chest Stop beating, stop bleeding, just die Before anyone could learn all of the details, before conditions were right I could hear Rose with her lights left on memory Intense, willed alone With a knife in her hand she cuts a gash, thin and white still, into her wrist What made her do such a thing When she meets another of her own kind When she finally feels she can talk to another she doesn t choose one of her own kind She tries to wish on Maggie My eyes could follow her into the never ending conversation The kind where you repeated yourself and said something stupid When you are not you that you know because you didn t find another of your own kind after all You found someone who doesn t have to build My eyes could follow them into all of the rooms they ever go into and see that she doesn t see Eleanor and she doesn t see Sara I feel lonely when the men talk a lot and know what people are thinking When they know what each other are thinking When Eleanor wonders what made Rose do such a thing as to cut herself I had the feeling that she didn t know what else to do She will remember that forever and I know that Sometimes I find Rose again in my mind too She would be felt hot on the other side of concrete of me Intense memories of not knowing what else to do with not belonging When you don t feel like yourself When you don t feel real Eleanor sits somewhere off to the side, in a half light Sara must be looking out the window I know she will be happy some day but I want her to look out the window because I don t feel like me when it is assurance and the great hope I want to look at their faces and see faces when they get up close because they haven t walked off too far in The Years I like to think about that kind of stuff I don t want to be Delia and wanting her mother to die already and let the living people live I just want to feel that knowing that Sara had that people could That s probably going to be my The Years for my days The longing feeling about people I don t really know because they aren t real but they seemed real because they had feelings I ve had about wishing stuff was real This isn t the review I wanted to write back then I was happy when I went on goodreads and found reviews from Elizabeth, Sam and William They all like The Years and mentally I hugged and high five all around Others dismissed the book as something unspecial because it isn t The Waves or To the Lighthouse To that I say that the specialness was not only breathing in daring tattoo permanence I wish the disappointed or scornful The Years faces could see what I see that Woolf used paints on the inside, behind the eyes Right where you go to cry or something Something like that Something intense like a memory you turned into that something intense To me that is special to capture that To capture it because you didn t hold it You let the light come on afterwards by knowing what you held onto about how you feel about your family Does everything then come over again a little differently she thought If so, is there a pattern a theme, recurring, like music half remembered, half forseen a gigantic pattern, momentarily perceptible The thought gave her extreme pleasure that there was a pattern But who makes it Who thinks it Her mind slipped She could not finish her thought.
The Years is a mature novel but also a hybrid work straddling a family saga and a collection of robbed moments that would have vanished into the river of time hadn t it been for Woolf s brilliant descriptive skills Capable of capturing the elusiveness of an atmosphere, of words left unsaid, of a particular landscape in any season, of the details that dress a room or the people that come in and go out of it scarcely leaving any trace, Woolf manages to give human quality to the passage of time, the real protagonist of this story.
It s true that she uses the Pargiter, a bourgeois family in extinction at the beginning of the twentieth century, to flesh out something as ungraspable as the passage of time We get to know the Pargiters in their childhood days and observe, in fragmentary manner, the evolution of their personalities as they grow up and become active actors in their lives Oddly enough, the cumulative changes they suffer only strengthen their innate characters, boosting their childhood traits As usual in Woolf s novels, London appears as a backdrop to the Pargiters doings, materializing the transformation of the city and its society over The Years The end of the Victorian era, WWI, the British colonies, women s causes or politics are addressed tangentially it s the alternating cycle of rebirth and decline of the main protagonists and their descendants that centers the focus of the storyline Despite the lyrical harmony of Woolf s subtle prose, this has been a tough novel to get through There is a certain detachment between the characters as years go by, and the style of the narrative evolves from an initial delightful family portrait to an oblique semi essay on the generational gap that is most evident in the last section of the novel titled present time , which takes place in a party reminiscent of Proust s long winded chronicles of the social soirees he loved and despised at once What I will mostly remember of this novel is the atmospheric openings of each section and Woolf s pristine, heart lifting passages that provide eternal quality to the ephemeral existence of the passersby who walk in the pathways of unstoppable time.
I will not call the early going a slog, but the novel did fail to engage me until page 140 or so After that, all was well The novel took off as a proper Virginia Woolf novel should By the end of the long party scene which closes the book I was familiarly dazzled I have to admit that I find the content almost unsummarizable There s no plot to speak of It s the technique that astonishes Woolf s concern is not the quotidian, and often not the particular, but the structural There are any number of exchanges between characters, sometimes arguments, in which the reader has no idea of the issues involved Woolf deliberately takes the emphasis off the particular here and this somehow pulls the characterizations into the foregroundstrongly I m not sure how she does it It s impressive She uses the technique throughout As for the timeline, it seems almost capricious Here are The Years which form the chapter heads 1880, 1891, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1917, 1918 and Present Day As with a bildungsroman, Woolf s interest is in the developmental arc over time The overwhelming feature of the novel is the sense of the result of experience But unlike the bildungsroman there is no movement toward a set goal, life being thinly plotted Neither is there a single central character but rather an ensemble effect Much takes place offstage births and deaths and weddings and childbirth Woolf s concern is with the interstitial moments, when the effect of time, certainly Proustian time though not flashbacks so much as flash forwards has its collective impact This novel is certainly a candidate for rereading, so enigmatic are its means of advancing the narrative Highly recommended.
The Years by Virginia Woolf is the story of the Pargiter family The story starts in 1880 and the family is headed by Colonel Abel Pargiter The colonel has seven children Eleanor, Edward, Milly, Delia, Morris, Rose, Martin and a sickly wife In Woolf s style, some details are left out and considered not important such as the name of the Colonel s wife Her death which is written indetail than To the Lighthouse s Prue Ramsay s death, which was passed along to the reader in parenthetical information, but little is known or said about her It is the reaction of other characters that are important in the death of the wife and mother as well as character reactions to the world around them Reaction isimportant than action.
Woolf s method of putting the reader in the head of the characters to listen to their thinking and to see their observations is perfected The book is so much than about the plot and plot development, which covers over fifty years, but the characters and their personal interactions The story extends to the extended Pargiter family and a few outsiders like Edward s friends at Oxford, one who marries his sister Milly The housemaid, Crosby, gets her own chapter, 1918, but it is also the shortest chapter and is used to mark the end of the war Inside the mix of acquaintances is Nicholas Pomjalovsky a Polish homosexual who Elenor meets through her sister Maggie and her French husband Rene Elenor seems to be the character that binds everything together She is never far from the reader from start to finish She runs the day to day of the family while the colonel is still alive, budgeting and shopping Later she seems to be the thread that ties everyone together from siblings to nieces and nephews She never marries and remains as an anchor point to the family Outside the extended family little seems to happen Historical events like the death of Charles Parnell, King Edward, and the end of World War I are used to mark a point in time rather than center around the event With the exception of bricking throwing Rose, who lands herself in jail, not much is made of politics Perhaps the best reason to read Woolf is her use of words and descriptions This is the opening paragraph for the chapter 1911 The sun was rising Very slowly it came up over the horizon shaking outlight But the sky was so vast, so cloudless, that to fill it with light took time.
Very gradually the clouds turned blue leaves on forest trees sparkled downbelow a flower shone eyes of beasts tigers, monkeys, birds sparkled.
Slowly the world emerged from darkness The sea became like the skin of aninnumerable scaled fish, glittering gold Here in the South of France thefurrowed vineyards caught the light the little vines turned purple and yellow and the sun coming through the slats of the blinds striped the white walls.
Woolf writes not a novel or a story but literature There isto writing than plot alone and Woolf demonstrates this flawlessly.
The Most Popular Of Virginia Woolf S Novels During Her Lifetime, The Years Is A Savage Indictment Of British Society At The Turn Of The Century, Edited With An Introduction And Notes By Jeri Johnson In Penguin Modern Classics The Years Is The Story Of Three Generations Of The Pargiter Family Their Intimacies And Estrangements, Anxieties And Triumphs Mapped Out Against The Bustling Rhythms Of London S Streets During The First Decades Of The Twentieth Century Growing Up In A Typically Victorian Household, The Pargiter Children Must Learn To Find Their Footing In An Alternative World, Where The Rules Of Etiquette Have Shifted From The Drawing Room To The Air Raid Shelter A Work Of Fluid And Dazzling Lucidity, The Years Eschews A Simple Line Of Development In Favour Of A Varied And Constantly Changing Style, Emphasises The Radical Discontinuity Of Personal Experiences And Historical Events Virginia Woolf S Penultimate Novel Celebrates The Resilience Of The Individual Self And, In Her Dazzlingly Fluid And Distinctive Voice, She Confidently Paints A Broad Canvas Across Time, Generation And Class Everybody was like this is really conventional Woolf, and I was like, Really I mean, is she every really conventional and people were like, Dood, this is nowhere near as good as To the Lighthouse or The Waves, so don t get your hopes up, and I was like, Well I haven t read The Waves, and people were like, What Dood You never read The Waves I m not sure we can have this conversation, and I was like, Oh man, I d better read The Waves, but first I have to read The Years for class, you know, and people were like, sure, okay, but when you re done you better go read The Waves, because even Leonard Woolf knew The Years was kind of a let down, even though it sold a lot, and I was like, okay, I ll keep it in mind, and then I went home and read The Years and you know what FUCK THE HATERZ, THIS BOOK RULEZ.
Look people can we just get over the idea that long, loose sentences and experiments with viewpoint and narrative structure are somehow hierarchically better than short, pointillist sentences and a complex but fundamentally straightforward approach to viewpoint Because the use of the close variable third person in this book is just gangbusters Also the inexorable crush of time can we convey it Well, as far as we can convey it, I think this book just did Oh snap.
But you may ask why The Years and not Mrs Dalloway first I don t know I think it was a fortunate to find it in my local library and by reading a few pages of it, I realized that I must read it first Did you know that I tried to read Mrs Dalloway forthan 3 times, and even once I read almost half of the book, but I failed to finish it I was losing my hope I thought Woolf is not my type Reading A room of one s own opened my eyes to many things That Virginia Woolf mainly concentrates on what kinds of things around us Let me think It is a book on women, writing and novels but you see she s describing a cat without a tail in the yard of Oxford University Amazing huh And then she compares herself with that cat I don t think she was a revolutionary feminist She didn t write a book like The golden notebook of Doris Lessing She is not The woman destroyed of Simone de Beauvoir, despite her life I think she was beyond all these things Although I am not a professional Woolf reader, after reading The Years I felt I discovered something new in my life a new author, a new kind of writing above all kinds of hatred, a new kind of womanhood in fact She s smart She has her own style She s strong She s different The Years is like I can say The Waves that I have read it years ago, I could finish it but I don t think I wholly understood it, because of a bad translation or perhaps it s untranslatable or maybe I wasn t yet a mature reader It is the story of a family There are 4 sisters and 3 brothers living in a big house with their sick mother and father This is how it starts The title of each chapter is a certain year It goes for decades for almost fifty years until each one of the characters gets old What we expect from a Woolf novel should not be a mixture of events which supposedly must constitute a special year chapter Like chapter 1914 which is describing only one day, they are snapshots of a period od time I realized that I should read it like a poem, a long poem of winds, clouds, leaves, pigeons, sounds and noise, seasons , streets and London Each chapter starts with a description of a special season and then characters are floating in these natural frames It was January Snow was falling snow had fallen all day The sky spread like a grey goose s wing from which feathers were falling all over England The sky was nothing but a flurry of falling flakes Lanes were levelled hollows filled the snow clogged the streams obscured windows, and lay wedged against doors.
This is beautiful to see that how characters remain themselves by passing years How for instance Sara poetically reacts to other people s behavior in her 40 s like her 20 s Or how Woolf manages that her characters remembers those memories from years ago that we have read about them in previous chapters and it was for me a reminiscence of reading Proust I think one main special characteristics of Woolf s is that you have to participate in the novel Although she puts some clues in different places but you have to guess some things yourself And that makes it a mysterious reading.
The main characters are mainly women One thing that I really liked about them was that Woolf sometimes sees them from the eyes of other people, an old man sitting in front of them in a bus for instance The man on whose toe she had trodden sized her up a well known type with a bag philanthropic well nourished a spinster a virgin like all the women of her class, cold her passions had never been touched yet not unattractive She was laughing That above sentence looked so natural to me I mean as she herself says in A room of one s own, a successful female author writes beyond her gender And Woolf proves that she is like that.
Reviewed in conjunction with Margery Sharp s Lise Lillywhite One of the things I do in Geneva is hang out at the local flea market trying to suppress my urge to preserve dead lives Every week you ll see people disrespectfully pawing over the beloved libraries of the deceased, libraries which with possibly indecent haste, have been taken away by market vendors who, I can imagine, don t pay a cent for them It is merely enough that they are willing to cart them off There in the market they sit in boxes, 2CHF a book Amongst them will often be intimate belongings such as photo albums, travel diaries or autograph books Every time I see this, I want to save the memory even if nobody else does Could I not keep just a skeleton of the library s existence As it is, my own library is, as much as anything else, a cemetery of book bones, nothing as whole as a skeleton no doubt, but each death provides my shelves with somethingThere are many reasons for loving a book Some of mine I love simply because they belonged to people who cared about them and I have inherited them if only by chance Not least, the library remnants of the Hautevilles library.
When the sale of the chateau and its contents was first mooted, the best of the books went to a posh auction house The refuse of that process ended up at the local flea market Each time I see one of these discarded deceased estates, lying higgledy piggledy in boxes, I don t just look at the books one by one, deciding which small treasure to take home I also read the story of the library itself Ah, so and so was a jazz and cinema lover, as I see a record collection, the reference books lovingly collected on its side, now the junk man s province This Swiss person made trips to Australia in the 1950s, here are the photo albums, the travel books of the period Oh, and he was into.
So it goes on Most of these deceased book lovers leave only a small tale The Hautevilles, however, were a prominent family for many generations and their story is told via important legal battles, their castle and through the auction of the contents of that castle They loved theatre and put on productions, so the auction included the costumery collected over The Years At the junk end, ordinary books not worth anything, was a lovely collection of children s and adult s fiction from the pre and post WWII period It contained many gems of the period including an author, almost forgotten these days, Margery Sharp She is perhaps due for the requisite revival, not least because it would not be entirely unreasonable to call her the Jane Austen of her day I hesitate to do that, but as it may get somebody to read her, and as almost nobody on GR none of my friends have read this, I will take the chance.