Long marriage

“What one wants in the person one lives with is that they should keep one at one’s best,” says Clarissa Dalloway in The Voyage Out (see yesterday’s post–I really am having trouble getting places as I listen!). As Shakespeare does with Polonius, Virginia gives us a foolish character who occasionally says something intriguing. Clarissa’s is a very mixed portrait in this book, published 10 years before Mrs. Dalloway.

But this comment elucidates something that happens in a good long relationship of any kind–the other helps you to see and sometimes overcome your persistent flaws, doesn’t let you get away with your particular laziness or ignorance or… fill in your specific blanks, but does it while still loving you, still supporting what is the best in you.

And as I was beginning to write this last night, Larry walked in and read me an example of an exemplary sentence, from Thinking, Fast and Slow:

“The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained.”

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Virginia Woolf’s exemplary sentences

Yesterday I got tired of driving around to PBS, SIrius/XM, KCSM, and got several books on CD from the library. (I miss Henderson!) I started with The Voyage Out. I probably read this decades ago, but have no memory of it. That’s the good thing about memory loss, Larry might say, you can hide your own Easter eggs.

But in this case, the pleasure of rediscovery includes reacquaintance with Ms. Woolf’s sly, economical wit. Here are just a few of her gems:

“..she slipped into a fine analysis of him which is best represented by one word, “sentimental,” by which she meant that he was never simple and honest about his feelings.”

What a perfect definition of what’s wrong with sentimentality! Or this, about a man who spent his life contemplating a book he never wrote:

“There never will be a book…That’s what comes of putting things off, and collecting
fossils, and sticking Norman arches on one’s pigsties.”

That’s what gets in my way, dreaming of Norman arches for the chicken coop. Or about her children’s religious education.

“So far, owing to great care on my part, they think of God as a kind of walrus…”

And finally the first one that caught my attention and made me pull over and get out my notebook (the only problem with listening while you drive is it slows your progress):

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