Quotes by Virginia Woolf

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Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929). more

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Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.

Really I don't like human nature unless all candied over with art.
Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.
Different though the sexes are, they inter-mix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is very opposite of what it is above.
It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities? For we have too much likeness as it is, and if an explorer should come back and bring word of other sexes looking through the branches of other trees at other skies, nothing would be of greater service to humanity; and we should have the immense pleasure into the bargain of watching Professor X rush for his measuring-rods to prove himself superior.
Novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand.
Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible.
Tom's great yellow bronze mask all draped upon an iron framework. An inhibited, nerve-drawn; dropped face -- as if hung on a scaffold of heavy private brooding; and thought.
A masterpiece is something said once and for all, stated, finished, so that it's there complete in the mind, if only at the back.
There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.
For what Harley Street specialist has time to understand the body, let alone the mind or both in combination, when he is a slave to thirteen thousand a year?
Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!
Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do.
It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the
If we help an educated man's daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war? -- not how she can learn, but how she can fight in order that she might win the same advantages as her brothers?
A strange thing has happened -- while all the other arts were born naked, this, the youngest, has been born fully-clothed. It can say everything before it has anything to say. It is as if the savage tribe, instead of finding two bars of iron to play with, had found scattering the seashore fiddles, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, grand pianos by Erhard and Bechstein, and had begun with incredible energy, but without knowing a note of music, to hammer and thump upon them all at the same time.
That great Cathedral space which was childhood.
Somewhere, everywhere, now hidden, now apparent in what ever is written down, is the form of a human being. If we seek to know him, are we idly occupied?
Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection. He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and engenders.
What I like, or one of the things I like, about motoring is the sense it gives one of lighting accidentally, like a voyager who touches another planet with the tip of his toe, upon scenes which would have gone on, have always gone on, will go on, unrecorded, save for this chance glimpse. Then it seems to me I am allowed to see the heart of the world uncovered for a moment.
Thus when I come to shape here at this table between my hands the story of my life and set it before you as a complete thing, I have to recall things gone far, gone deep, sunk into this life or that and become part of it; dreams, too, things surrounding me, and the inmates, those old half-articulate ghosts who keep up their hauntings by day and night... shadows of people one might have been; unborn selves.
At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.
Now, aged 50, I'm just poised to shoot forth quite free straight and undeflected my bolts whatever they are.
The older one grows, the more one likes indecency.
One likes people much better when they're battered down by a prodigious siege of misfortune than when they triumph.
If we didn't live adventurously, plucking the wild goat by the beard, and trembling over precipices, we should never be depressed, I've no doubt; but already should be faded, fatalistic and aged.
It is no use trying to sum people up. One must follow hints, not exactly what is said, nor yet entirely what is done.
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
The beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
The history of men's opposition to women's emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.
On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points
To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves.
As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world
Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery - always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What's this passion for?
Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.
The middlebrow is the man, or woman, of middlebred intelligence who ambles and saunters now on this side of the hedge, now on that, in pursuit of no single object, neither art itself nor life itself, but both mixed indistinguishably, and rather nastily, with money, fame, power, or prestige.
If we didn’t live venturously, plucking the wild goat by the beard, and trembling over precipices, we should never be depressed, I’ve no doubt; but already should be faded, fatalistic and aged.
When she looked in the glass and saw her hair grey, her cheek sunk, at fifty, she thought, possibly she might have managed things better--her husband; money; his books. But for her own part she would never for a single second regret her decision, evade difficulties, or slur over duties.
She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible; unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.
The whole edifice of female government is based on that foundation stone; chastity is their jewel, their centre piece, which they run mad to protect, and die when ravished of.
Why, she asked, pressing her chin on James's head, should they grow up so fast? Why should they go to school? She would have liked always to have had a baby.
The word-coining genius, as if thought plunged into a sea of words and came up dripping.
I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again -- as I always am when I write.
We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.
If people are highly successful in their professions they lose their senses. Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures. Sound goes. They have no time to listen to music. Speech goes. They have no time for conversation. They lose their sense of proportion—the relations between one thing and another. Humanity goes ….
“I will not cease from mental fight,” Blake wrote. Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. The current flows fast and furious. It issues a spate of words from the loudspeakers and the politicians.
Every time she gave a party she had this feeling of being something not herself, and that every one was unreal in one way; much more real in another. It was, she thought, partly their clothes, partly being taken out of their ordinary ways, partly the background, it was possible to say things you couldn't say anyhow else, things that needed an effort; possible to go much deeper.

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