Virginia Woolf is happy, but not with D.H. Lawrence, not at all

Virginia Woolf

In the fall of 1932, the same year she fell apart in March and fainted in August, Virginia Woolf went on a happy compositional tear in October and November, writing 60,000 words in about 60 days. “All flowing into the stream of its own accord,” as she put it elsewhere. Amid this she recorded this happiness:

I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.…

I’m interested in watching what goes on for the moment without wishing to take part — a good frame of mind when one’s conscious of power. Then I am backed now by the downs: The country: how happy L. and I are at Rodmell: what a free life that is—sweeping 30 or 40 miles; coming in when and how we like; sleeping in the empty house; dealing triumphantly with interruptions; and diving daily into that divine loveliness— always some walk; and the gulls on the purple plough; or going over to Tarring Neville—these are the flights I most love now—in the wide, the indifferent air. No being jerked, teased, tugged.

… and then, irritated with D.H. Lawrence’s Letters, she finishes the diary entry by giving him a good proper spanking.

It’s harrowing: this panting effort after something…the brutality of civilized society to this panting agonized man: and how futile it was. All this makes certain gasping in his letters. And none of it seems essential. So he pants and jerks. Then too I don’t like strumming with two fingers— and the arrogance. After all, English has one million words: why confine yourself to 6? and praise yourself of so doing.… And why does Aldous say he was an “artist”? Art is being rid of all preaching.

from her diary entry of 2 October 1932, in A Writer’s Diary (Harvest/HBJ), pp 181-182.

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