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Archive W-X

· Lies Jane Austen Told Me by: Julie Wright · Frank Behrendt: Die Winnetou-Strategie Werde zum Häuptling deines Lebens · Alison Weir: Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession. A Novel · Peter Jordens: Hendrik Werkman en De Ploeg. The Next Call en het constructivisme · Onno Blom: Het litteken van de dood (Biografie Jan Wolkers) · Oscar WILDE: The Teacher of Wisdom · HET LEVEN VAN ELISABETH SIDDAL VERTELD DOOR EVA WANJEK IN DE ROMAN ‘LIZZIE’ · FLEUR DE WEERD WINNAAR VAN BOB DEN UYL PRIJS 2016 VOOR BESTE REISBOEK · VIRGINIA WOOLF: KEW GARDENS · VIRGINIA WOOLF: BLUE & GREEN · VIRGINIA WOOLF: THE MARK ON THE WALL · VIRGINIA WOOLF: THE STRING QUARTET

»» there is more...

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by: Julie Wright

Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she’s been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic.

So naturally when Emma falls for Blake Hampton and he invites her home to meet his parents, she is positive an engagement is in her future. After all, Blake is a single man in possession of a good fortune, and thus must be in want of a wife.



But when it turns out that what Blake actually wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, the fastest growing gym franchise in the nation. She loves her work, and she’s good at it, which is why she bristles when her boss brings in a consultant to help her spearhead the new facilities on the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake’s younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate.



What she can’t understand is why Lucas continues to try to push her back into Blake’s arms when he so clearly has fallen as hard for her as she has fallen for him. It isn’t until Lucas reveals to Emma that he was adopted into the Hampton family that she begins to understand his loyalty to Blake as well as his devotion to the child April-she is Lucas’s biological niece.



Emma opens up to Lucas about the feelings of abandonment she has harbored ever since she was a child and her mother left the family. As she helps Lucas deal with his past demons, she is able to exorcise some of her own.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must find a way to let Blake know that it’s time for him to let her go and to let Lucas know it’s time for him to love her back.

Julie Wright wrote her first book when she was fifteen, and has since written twenty-three novels. She has a husband, three kids, a dog, and a varying amount of fish, frogs, and salamanders (depending on attrition). She loves writing, reading, traveling, speaking at schools, hiking, playing with her kids, and watching her husband make dinner.

Julie Wright
Lies Jane Austen Told Me
Published: 2017
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781629723426
Publisher: Shadow Mountain

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: - Book News, - Bookstores, Archive A-B, Archive W-X, Art & Literature News, Austen, Jane, Austen, Jane, Jane Austen


Frank Behrendt: Die Winnetou-Strategie Werde zum Häuptling deines Lebens

“Führe dich selbst in eine gute Zukunft. Wie ein guter Häuptling seinen Stamm.” (Frank Behrendt)

Frank Behrendt ist seit seiner Jugend leidenschaftlicher Winnetou-Fan – der »Guru der Gelassenheit« hat sich in vielen Lebenslagen von dem stolzen Apachen-Häuptling und anderen Figuren des Schriftstellers Karl May inspirieren lassen.

Auch von anderen Persönlichkeiten im echten Leben hat Frank Behrendt viel gelernt. Ihre Haltung, Klugheit und Weisheit hat er übernommen und für seinen eigenen Weg erfolgreich adaptiert. Selbstbestimmt und selbst-entschieden zu leben, tatsächlich Häuptling des eigenen Lebens zu sein, war immer sein Ziel.

In unterhaltsamen Geschichten erzählt Frank Behrendt an konkreten Beispielen, wie ihn die Helden seiner Kindheit nachhaltig beeinflusst haben. Eine Inspiration für jeden und ein flammender Appell an alle, Ausschau zu halten nach den Helden am Wegesrand – den fiktionalen und den realen.

Frank Behrendt, geb. 1963, ist seit gut 20 Jahren ausgewiesener PR- und Kommunikationsfachmann mit intensiven Kontakten zu Medien, Wirtschaft und Politik. Nach Stationen bei BILD, Dornier, Henkel, RTL Television und Universal Music war der Absolvent der Deutschen Journalistenschule in München Deutschland-Chef bei KetchumPleon, bevor er 2011 als Vorstand zur fischerAppelt AG wechselte. Seit Februar 2017 ist er in der Serviceplan-Gruppe tätig. Im März 2017 wurde er von der Deutschen Public Relations Gesellschaft (DPRG) als “PR-Kopf des Jahres” ausgezeichnet. Frank Behrendt lebt mit seiner Frau und seinen drei Kindern in Köln.

Frank Behrendt
Die Winnetou-Strategie Werde zum Häuptling deines Lebens
Seitenzahl: 221
Oktober 2017
Deutsch
Abmessung: 218mm x 139mm x 25mm
Gebundenes Buch mit Schutzumschlag
ISBN-13: 9783579086811
ISBN-10: 3579086812
Verlag: Gütersloher Verlagshaus

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: * Cowboys and Indians, - Book News, - Bookstores, Archive A-B, Archive M-N, Archive W-X, Art & Literature News, Karl May


Alison Weir: Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession. A Novel

In this second novel of Alison Weir’s epic Six Tudor Queens series, the acclaimed author and historian weaves exciting new research into the story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s most infamous wife, a woman ahead of her time whose very life—and death—forever changed a nation.

Born into a noble English family, Anne is barely a teenager when she is sent from her family’s Hever Castle to serve at the royal court of the Netherlands. This strategic move on the part of her opportunistic father also becomes a chance for the girl to grow and discover herself. There, and later in France, Anne thrives, preferring to absorb the works of progressive writers rather than participate in courtly flirtations. She also begins to understand the inequalities and indignities suffered by her gender.

Anne isn’t completely inured to the longings of the heart, but her powerful family has ambitious plans for her future that override any wishes of her own. When the King of England himself, Henry VIII, asks Anne to be his mistress, she spurns his advances—reminding him that he is a married man who has already conducted an affair with her sister, Mary. Anne’s rejection only intensifies Henry’s pursuit, but in the absence of a male heir—and given an aging Queen Katherine—the opportunity to elevate and protect the Boleyn family, and to exact vengeance on her envious detractors, is too tempting for Anne to resist, even as it proves to be her undoing.

While history tells of how Anne Boleyn died, this compelling new novel reveals how fully she lived.

“This is a stunning, engaging, comprehensive and convincing novel. . . . [Alison] Weir’s characterisation is superb, and this complex novel will be, without doubt, one of the most admired works of historical fiction of 2017.” – Historical Novels Review

Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous historical biographies, including The Lost Tudor Princess, Elizabeth of York, Mary Boleyn, The Lady in the Tower, Mistress of the Monarchy, Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and the novels Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession; Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen; The Marriage Game; A Dangerous Inheritance; Captive Queen; The Lady Elizabeth; and Innocent Traitor. She lives in Surrey, England, with her husband.

Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession
A Novel
By Alison Weir
Part of Six Tudor Queens
Historical Fiction – Literary Fiction
Paperback
Publ. Penquin Random House
May 01, 2018
576 Pages

new books
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More in: - Book News, - Book Stories, Anne Boleyn, Archive W-X, Art & Literature News


Peter Jordens: Hendrik Werkman en De Ploeg. The Next Call en het constructivisme

Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman (1882-1945) wordt in 1919 lid van de ‘Groninger Kunstkring De Ploeg’.

Men waardeert hem vooral als drukker. In 1922, wanneer hij zakelijk een stap terug moet doen, maakt Werkman kennis met het gebruik van typografisch zetmateriaal als vorm van drukkunst. Hij begint de mogelijkheden ervan te onderzoeken.

De eerste proeve van zijn kunnen is de uitgave van The Next Call, een serie van negen achtbladige cahiers bestaande uit teksten en abstracte composities die hij tussen 1923 en 1926 aan vrienden en andere mogelijk geïnteresseerden toestuurt. Talrijk zijn de aanwijzingen dat Werkman zich daarbij heeft laten inspireren door het dadaïstische en constructivistische idioom van de internationale avant-garde. Een modernistisch tijdschrift als een van de vele andere is The Next Call niet. Teksten en druksels laten zien dat het gaat over Werkman zelf, over wat hem in deze cruciale periode van zijn leven wezenlijk beroert

Peter Jordens:
Hendrik Werkman en De Ploeg.
The Next Call en het constructivisme
Dit boek verschijnt in oktober 2017
€ 22,50
ISBN 9789462582286
Formaat: 20 x 26,5 cm
Aantal pagina’s 176
In samenwerking met Museum Belvédère
Circa 150 afbeeldingen in kleur
Jaar 2017
Uitvoering: Gebonden
Uitg.: wbooks

new books
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: *Concrete + Visual Poetry U-Z, - Book Lovers, - Book News, Archive W-X, Archive W-X, Art & Literature News, Constructivism, Constuctivisme, Dada, DADA, Dadaïsme, De Ploeg, PRESS & PUBLISHING, REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS, Werkman, Hendrik Nicolaas


Onno Blom: Het litteken van de dood (Biografie Jan Wolkers)

Nederland vormde Jan Wolkers, en Jan Wolkers vormde Nederland.

Zijn kunstenaarschap ontstond uit woede tegen de God van zijn gereformeerde vader in Oegstgeest, bloeide op in Amsterdam, en vond harmonie op Texel.
Zijn romans werden verguisd, bejubeld en bekroond. Wereldwijd werden honderdduizenden exemplaren verkocht van Kort Amerikaans, Een roos van vlees en Turks fruit.
Wolkers werd opgeleid als beeldhouwer. Hij maakte vele beelden in brons en glas, en liet een schitterend oeuvre van kleurrijke schilderijen na. Zoals hij beeldhouwde met woorden, zo schreef hij met verf.

Meer dan tien jaar lang werkte Onno Blom aan Wolkers’ biografie. Op basis van een schat aan materiaal schetst hij een rebels, obsessief en zinnelijk leven in de greep van liefde en dood. Wolkers had onstuimige relaties met vrouwen en meisjes. De dood van zijn oudste broer en die van zijn tweejarige dochtertje bleven hem tot zijn laatste dag als demonen achtervolgen.

Onno Blom (1969) studeerde in 1994 cum laude af in de Nederlandse taal- en letterkunde en Culturele Studies. Na een aantal jaren te hebben gewerkt als literair redacteur bij dagblad Trouw en korte tijd als hoofdredacteur van Uitgeverij Prometheus Bert Bakker en adjunct-directeur van De Bezige Bij, is hij werkzaam als freelance journalist en literair criticus. Hij maakte voor Teleac een aantal radioprogramma’s en treedt op als interviewer en presentator bij literaire bijeenkomsten in het land. Blom is de officiële biograaf van Jan Wolkers.

‘Arme Onno. Zweet, bloed en tranen zullen langs zijn rug lopen,’ zei Wolkers vlak voor zijn dood in NRC Handelsblad.

Verwacht – 19 oktober 2017 – handelseditie
Het litteken van de dood
Onno Blom
Aantal pagina’s 1168
Uitvoering: Gebonden
ISBN 9789023454588
Uitgever De Bezige Bij
Druk vanaf 1e
Taal Nederlands
Bladzijden 1168 pp.
Bindwijze Hardcover
Genre Literaire non-fictie
€39,99

Naast de toegankelijke ‘volkseditie’ verschijnt een luxe editie in cassette, met daarin de biografie in een gebonden uitgave, een gebonden beeldboek met leven en werk van Jan Wolkers aan de hand van foto’s, portretten, kunstwerken en egodocumenten, en een facsimiledruk van een zelfportret van Jan Wolkers uit 1945.

Deze luxe editie verschijnt in een eenmalige oplage van 1500 exemplaren, wordt genummerd en voorzien van de handtekeningstempel van Wolkers.

Verwacht – 19 oktober 2017 – luxe uitgave
Het litteken van de dood
Onno Blom
ISBN 9789023456568
Uitgever De Bezige Bij
Druk vanaf 1e
Taal Nederlands
Bindwijze Hardcover
Genre Biografieën
€129,99

new books
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: - Book Lovers, - Book News, Archive W-X, Art & Literature News, BIOGRAPHY, Jan Wolkers


Oscar WILDE: The Teacher of Wisdom

fdm_oscarwilde3Oscar Wilde
(1854 – 1900)

The Teacher of Wisdom

From his childhood he had been as one filled with the perfect knowledge of God, and even while he was yet but a lad many of the saints, as well as certain holy women who dwelt in the free city of his birth, had been stirred to much wonder by the grave wisdom of his answers.

And when his parents had given him the robe and the ring of manhood he kissed them, and left them and went out into the world, that he might speak to the world about God. For there were at that time many in the world who either knew not God at all, or had but an incomplete knowledge of Him, or worshipped the false gods who dwell in groves and have no care of their worshippers.

And he set his face to the sun and journeyed, walking without sandals, as he had seen the saints walk, and carrying at his girdle a leathern wallet and a little water-bottle of burnt clay.

And as he walked along the highway he was full of the joy that comes from the perfect knowledge of God, and he sang praises unto God without ceasing; and after a time he reached a strange land in which there were many cities.

And he passed through eleven cities. And some of these cities were in valleys, and others were by the banks of great rivers, and others were set on hills. And in each city he found a disciple who loved him and followed him, and a great multitude also of people followed him from each city, and the knowledge of God spread in the whole land, and many of the rulers were converted, and the priests of the temples in which there were idols found that half of their gain was gone, and when they beat upon their drums at noon none, or but a few, came with peacocks and with offerings of flesh as had been the custom of the land before his coming.

Yet the more the people followed him, and the greater the number of his disciples, the greater became his sorrow. And he knew not why his sorrow was so great. For he spake ever about God, and out of the fulness of that perfect knowledge of God which God had Himself given to him.

And one evening he passed out of the eleventh city, which was a city of Armenia, and his disciples and a great crowd of people followed after him; and he went up on to a mountain and sat down on a rock that was on the mountain, and his disciples stood round him, and the multitude knelt in the valley.

And he bowed his head on his hands and wept, and said to his Soul, ‘Why is it that I am full of sorrow and fear, and that each of my disciples is as an enemy that walks in the noonday?’

And his Soul answered him and said, ‘God filled thee with the perfect knowledge of Himself, and thou hast given this knowledge away to others. The pearl of great price thou hast divided, and the vesture without seam thou hast parted asunder. He who giveth away wisdom robbeth himself. He is as one who giveth his treasure to a robber. Is not God wiser than thou art? Who art thou to give away the secret that God hath told thee? I was rich once, and thou hast made me poor. Once I saw God, and now thou hast hidden Him from me.’

And he wept again, for he knew that his Soul spake truth to him, and that he had given to others the perfect knowledge of God, and that he was as one clinging to the skirts of God, and that his faith was leaving him by reason of the number of those who believed in him.

And he said to himself, ‘I will talk no more about God. He who giveth away wisdom robbeth himself’

And after the space of some hours his disciples came near him and bowed themselves to the ground and said, ‘Master, talk to us about God, for thou hast the perfect knowledge of God, and no man save thee hath this knowledge.’

And he answered them and said, ‘I will talk to you about all other things that are in heaven and on earth, but about God I will not talk to you. Neither now, nor at any time, will I talk to you about God.’

And they were wroth with him and said to him, ‘Thou hast led us into the desert that we might hearken to thee. Wilt thou send us away hungry, and the great multitude that thou hast made to follow thee?’

And he answered them and said, ‘I will not talk to you about God.’

And the multitude murmured against him and said to him ‘Thou hast led us into the desert, and hast given us no food to eat. Talk to us about God and it will suffice us.’

But he answered them not a word. For he knew that if he spake to them about God he would give away his treasure.

And his disciples went away sadly, and the multitude of people returned to their own homes. And many died on the way.

And when he was alone he rose up and set his face to the moon, and journeyed for seven moons, speaking to no man nor making any answer. And when the seventh moon had waned he reached that desert which is the desert of the Great River. And having found a cavern in which a Centaur had once dwelt, he took it for his place of dwelling, and made himself a mat of reeds on which to lie, and became a hermit. And every hour the Hermit praised God that He had suffered him to keep some knowledge of Him and of His wonderful greatness.

Now, one evening, as the Hermit was seated before the cavern in which he had made his place of dwelling, he beheld a young man of evil and beautiful face who passed by in mean apparel and with empty hands. Every evening with empty hands the young man passed by, and every morning he returned with his hands full of purple and pearls. For he was a Robber and robbed the caravans of the merchants.

And the Hermit looked at him and pitied him. But he spake not a word. For he knew that he who speaks a word loses his faith.

And one morning, as the young man returned with his hands full of purple and pearls, he stopped and frowned and stamped his foot upon the sand, and said to the Hermit: ‘Why do you look at me ever in this manner as I pass by? What is it that I see in your eyes? For no man has looked at me before in this manner. And the thing is a thorn and a trouble to me.’

And the Hermit answered him and said, ‘What you see in my eyes is pity. Pity is what looks out at you from my eyes.’

And the young man laughed with scorn, and cried to the Hermit in a bitter voice, and said to him, ‘I have purple and pearls in my hands, and you have but a mat of reeds on which to lie. What pity should you have for me? And for what reason have you this pity?’

‘I have pity for you,’ said the Hermit, ‘because you have no knowledge of God.’

‘Is this knowledge of God a precious thing?’ asked the young man, and he came close to the mouth of the cavern.

‘It is more precious than all the purple and the pearls of the world,’ answered the Hermit.

‘And have you got it?’ said the young Robber, and he came closer still.

‘Once, indeed,’ answered the Hermit, ‘I possessed the perfect knowledge of God. But in my foolishness I parted with it, and divided it amongst others. Yet even now is such knowledge as remains to me more precious than purple or pearls.’

And when the young Robber heard this he threw away the purple and the pearls that he was bearing in his hands, and drawing a sharp sword of curved steel he said to the Hermit, ‘Give me, forthwith, this knowledge of God that you possess, or I will surely slay you. Wherefore should I not slay him who has a treasure greater than my treasure?’

And the Hermit spread out his arms and said, ‘Were it not better for me to go unto the uttermost courts of God and praise Him, than to live in the world and have no knowledge of Him? Slay me if that be your desire. But I will not give away my knowledge of God.’

And the young Robber knelt down and besought him, but the Hermit would not talk to him about God, nor give him his Treasure, and the young Robber rose up and said to the Hermit, ‘Be it as you will. As for myself, I will go to the City of the Seven Sins, that is but three days’ journey from this place, and for my purple they will give me pleasure, and for my pearls they will sell me joy.’ And he took up the purple and the pearls and went swiftly away.

And the Hermit cried out and followed him and besought him. For the space of three days he followed the young Robber on the road and entreated him to return, nor to enter into the City of the Seven Sins.

And ever and anon the young Robber looked back at the Hermit and called to him, and said, ‘Will you give me this knowledge of God which is more precious than purple and pearls? If you will give me that, I will not enter the city.’

And ever did the Hermit answer, ‘All things that I have I will give thee, save that one thing only. For that thing it is not lawful for me to give away.

And in the twilight of the third day they came nigh to the great scarlet gates of the City of the Seven Sins. And from the city there came the sound of much laughter.

And the young Robber laughed in answer, and sought to knock at the gate. And as he did so the Hermit ran forward and caught him by the skirts of his raiment, and said to him: ‘Stretch forth your hands, and set your arms around my neck, and put your ear close to my lips, and I will give you what remains to me of the knowledge of God.’ And the young Robber stopped.

And when the Hermit had given away his knowledge of God, he fell upon the ground and wept, and a great darkness hid him from the city and the young Robber, so that he saw them no more.

And as he lay there weeping he was ware of One who was standing beside him; and He who was standing beside him had feet of brass and hair like fine wool. And He raised the Hermit up, and said to him: ‘Before this time thou hadst the perfect knowledge of God. Now thou shalt have the perfect love of God. Wherefore art thou weeping?’ And He kissed him.

Oscar Wilde, 1894
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More in: Archive W-X, Wilde, Oscar, Wilde, Oscar


HET LEVEN VAN ELISABETH SIDDAL VERTELD DOOR EVA WANJEK IN DE ROMAN ‘LIZZIE’

De kunstenaar en zijn muze: liefde, begeerte, desillusie en onontkoombare verbondenheid

lizzy_wanjekEen onconventionele relatie tussen twee bijzondere mensen leidt hen naar de toppen van de roem, maar ook naar afgronden van ellende en vertwijfeling: van drank, opium en vooral wederzijdse afhankelijkheid. Het is de symbiotische relatie van een gedreven kunstenaar die alles – ook zijn eigen geluk en dat van anderen – opoffert voor de kunst, en een vrouw die haar bestaansrecht ontleent aan haar uitzonderlijke schoonheid, terwijl ze faalt in haar eigen artistieke ambities.

Lizzie geeft een levendig en panoramisch beeld van het bruisende Londen van de 19de eeuw, met zijn culturele elite, zijn bohémiens en zijn zelfkant. Hij biedt zowel kostuumdrama en ‘Gothic horror’ als erotische en indringende psychologische scènes. Het is een groots opgezet drama, van de allereerste ontmoeting in 1849 tussen het onbekende naaistertje en het aanstormende genie, tot aan diens dood als beroemde, maar eenzame weduwnaar in 1882.

Lizzie is een boeiende roman, die alle facetten van een man-vrouwrelatie toont, van prille liefde en begeerte, via wederzijdse ontrouw, vervreemding en desillusie tot aan het besef van absolute lotsverbondenheid.

Eva Wanjek is het pseudoniem waaronder twee auteurs van Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek hun krachten hebben gebundeld: de romanschrijver Martin Michael Driessen en de dichteres Liesbeth Lagemaat.

De pers over Lizzie:
‘Een samenwerkingsverband tussen Martin Michael Driessen en Liesbeth Lagemaat leidt tot een historische roman waarin kunstzinnige verhevenheid en de liefde het pijnlijk afleggen tegen de zelfdestructie. ****’ NRC Handelsblad
‘De auteurs hebben dit tranentrekkende, vuistdikke verhaal schittering opgebouwd. beelden trekken als een film aan je voorbij en laten je niet los. En al ben je broodnuchter, raak je door hun liefdesgeschiedenis die gedoemd is te mislukken, bedwelmd, en leest die in één gelukzalige roes uit.’ Baarnsche Courant

Een fragment uit: ‘Lizzie’

lizzy_wanjek03En als Miss Siddall maar lang genoeg in dit water ligt terwijl ik schilder, en vergeet waar ze is, dan krijg ik misschien juist de uitdrukking die ik zoek. Die van vergetelheid, van opgave, alsof ze op de wateren van de Lethe drijft. Misschien helpt een beetje laudanum. En ze is mooi genoeg om ook dan nog begeerlijk te zijn. Want dat is waarom het gaat. Ophelia moet in haar dood begeerlijk zijn. Want alleen dan is het tragisch dat niemand haar ooit zal beminnen.
Hij vroeg zich af wie van hen Miss Siddall als eerste bezitten zou. Ik niet, dacht hij, ze is zo kwetsbaar, daar zit je voor de rest van je leven aan vast. Hunt was te rechtschapen, die zou alleen met zijn wettige echtgenote naar bed gaan. En Deverell ook niet. Walter was idolaat van haar, maar hij was een ziek man. Het zou Dante wel zijn. Lizzie was Dante’s meisje.

Nog een fragment uit: ‘Lizzie’

lizzy_wanjek04Ik ben Rossetti,’ zegt hij en ik hoor zijn stem vertraagd, alsof hij weerkaatst wordt door een gewelf. ‘Mijn naam is Dante Gabriel Rossetti, u zult wel nooit van mij gehoord hebben. Ik ben dichter en schilder.

Er is een beweging, de Prerafaëlitische Broederschap… zo noemen we ons… waarvan ik de leider ben. En nu ik u heb gezien, wil ik u vragen…’

Als een mens ooit werd opgetild van de aarde, dan werd ik het, nu. Ik wist niet wat me overkwam. Maar ik wist wel wat ik nu wilde zeggen…

Ze glimlachte en reciteerde – bevangen, als iemand die onwennig op een bruiloft of uitvaart spreekt en bang is iets verkeerds te zeggen – twee van zijn eigen verzen, uit ‘The Blessed Damozel’:

I’ll take his hand and go with him
To the deep wells of light…

Hij knielde voor haar en kuste haar hand. Het was voor het eerst in haar leven dat een man voor haar knielde. Nu mocht en kon er niets meer gezegd worden.
In de deuropening draaide hij zich om. Ze zat nog steeds op haar stoel, haar ene hand op het tafelblad, blank en haast doorschijnend, als door een Hollandse meester geschilderd. Ze keek over haar schouder naar het beroete raam, dat nauwelijks licht doorliet, en scheen weer onbereikbaar, in haar eigen gedachten verzonken. Was ze zo, of poseerde ze? Wat het ook was, ze deed het goed.

Voordat Dante de deur weer sloot, maakte hij met zachte stem de strofe af:

As unto a stream we will step down,
And bathe there in God’s sight

lizzy_wanjek02Eva Wanjek:
Lizzie
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15×23 cm.
464 pagina’s
ISBN 9789028426160
prijs € 24,95

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Tel: 020 570 61 00
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FLEUR DE WEERD WINNAAR VAN BOB DEN UYL PRIJS 2016 VOOR BESTE REISBOEK

WEERD_HETLANDDATFleur de Weerd: Het land dat maar niet wil lukken.
Een reis door het grillige Oekraïne
Winnaar Bob den Uyl Prijs 2016 voor beste reisboek

Schrijfster Fleur de Weerd heeft de VPRO Bob den Uyl Prijs uitgereikt gekregen voor haar boek Het land dat maar niet wil lukken (Atlas/Contact). De prijs, voor het beste Nederlandstalige reisboek uit het afgelopen kalenderjaar, bestaat uit een geldbedrag van 7500 euro.

Fleur de Weerd (1985) ontving de prijs uit handen van juryvoorzitter Clairy Polak. De jury prijst de wijze waarop ze het ontwrichte Oekraïne portretteert aan de hand van vele ontmoetingen met gewone Oekraïners: boeren, feministen, ultranationalisten, huwelijksmakelaars, kozakken en prostituees. Onbevangen beweegt De Weerd zich langs de grenzen van het conflict, zonder de menselijke verhoudingen uit het oog te verliezen. Gaandeweg begint de lezer iets te begrijpen van dit land en zijn grillige geschiedenis, om uiteindelijk te beseffen dat een oplossing voor dit conflict nog heel ver weg is.

De vijf genomineerde titels waren:
Laurens SamsomTegendraadse dromen. Dwars door Israël en de Palestijnse gebieden (Prometheus)
Sandra SmallenburgExpeditie Land Art. Landschapskunst in Amerika, Groot-Brittannië en Nederland (De Bezige Bij)
Laura StarinkDe schaduw van de grote broer. Letten en Russen, Joden in Polen, Duits Kaliningrad, Oorlog om Oekraïne (Atlas/Contact)
Fleur de WeerdHet land dat maar niet wil lukken. Een reis door het grillige Oekraïne (Atlas/Contact)
Tommy WieringaHonorair Kozak (De Bezige Bij)

De jury werd dit jaar gevormd door Clairy Polak (voorzitter), Karin Amatmoekrim (schrijver en letterkundige), Mathijs Deen (schrijver en radiomaker), Alexander Reeuwijk (schrijver) en Rosan Smits (hoofd Conflict Research Unit bij Clingendael).

In de pers: Een huiveringwekkend beeld van ontwrichte maatschappijen door de toename van haat, angst, corruptie en cynisme. (…) Over het land naast het nieuws, waarin zij diverse groepen mensen ontmoet, confronterende vragen stelt, aandachtig luistert en zo telkens tot nieuwe eigen inzichten komt. **** – NRC Handelsblad

Paperback 288 blz.
ISBN 9789045029900
juni 2016
Uitgeverij Atlas Contact
€ 21,99

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VIRGINIA WOOLF: KEW GARDENS

Virginia_Woolf12Virginia Woolf
(1882-1941)

7. Kew Gardens
(from: Monday or Tuesday)

From the oval-shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. The petals were voluminous enough to be stirred by the summer breeze, and when they moved, the red, blue and yellow lights passed one over the other, staining an inch of the brown earth beneath with a spot of the most intricate colour.

The light fell either upon the smooth, grey back of a pebble, or, the shell of a snail with its brown, circular veins, or falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue and yellow the thin walls of water that one expected them to burst and disappear. Instead, the drop was left in a second silver grey once more, and the light now settled upon the flesh of a leaf, revealing the branching thread of fibre beneath the surface, and again it moved on and spread its illumination in the vast green spaces beneath the dome of the heart-shaped and tongue-shaped leaves. Then the breeze stirred rather more briskly overhead and the colour was flashed into the air above, into the eyes of the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July.

The figures of these men and women straggled past the flower-bed with a curiously irregular movement not unlike that of the white and blue butterflies who crossed the turf in zig-zag flights from bed to bed. The man was about six inches in front of the woman, strolling carelessly, while she bore on with greater purpose, only turning her head now and then to see that the children were not too far behind. The man kept this distance in front of the woman purposely, though perhaps unconsciously, for he wished to go on with his thoughts.

“Fifteen years ago I came here with Lily,” he thought. “We sat somewhere over there by a lake and I begged her to marry me all through the hot afternoon. How the dragonfly kept circling round us: how clearly I see the dragonfly and her shoe with the square silver buckle at the toe. All the time I spoke I saw her shoe and when it moved impatiently I knew without looking up what she was going to say: the whole of her seemed to be in her shoe. And my love, my desire, were in the dragonfly; for some reason I thought that if it settled there, on that leaf, the broad one with the red flower in the middle of it, if the dragonfly settled on the leaf she would say “Yes” at once. But the dragonfly went round and round: it never settled anywhere — of course not, happily not, or I shouldn’t be walking here with Eleanor and the children — Tell me, Eleanor. D’you ever think of the past?”

“Why do you ask, Simon?”

“Because I’ve been thinking of the past. I’ve been thinking of Lily, the woman I might have married . . . Well, why are you silent? Do you mind my thinking of the past?”

“Why should I mind, Simon? Doesn’t one always think of the past, in a garden with men and women lying under the trees? Aren’t they one’s past, all that remains of it, those men and women, those ghosts lying under the trees . . . one’s happiness, one’s reality?”

“For me, a square silver shoe buckle and a dragonfly —”

“For me, a kiss. Imagine six little girls sitting before their easels twenty years ago, down by the side of a lake, painting the water-lilies, the first red water-lilies I’d ever seen. And suddenly a kiss, there on the back of my neck. And my hand shook all the afternoon so that I couldn’t paint. I took out my watch and marked the hour when I would allow myself to think of the kiss for five minutes only — it was so precious — the kiss of an old grey-haired woman with a wart on her nose, the mother of all my kisses all my life. Come, Caroline, come, Hubert.”

They walked on the past the flower-bed, now walking four abreast, and soon diminished in size among the trees and looked half transparent as the sunlight and shade swam over their backs in large trembling irregular patches.

In the oval flower bed the snail, whose shelled had been stained red, blue, and yellow for the space of two minutes or so, now appeared to be moving very slightly in its shell, and next began to labour over the crumbs of loose earth which broke away and rolled down as it passed over them. It appeared to have a definite goal in front of it, differing in this respect from the singular high stepping angular green insect who attempted to cross in front of it, and waited for a second with its antenna trembling as if in deliberation, and then stepped off as rapidly and strangely in the opposite direction. Brown cliffs with deep green lakes in the hollows, flat, blade-like trees that waved from root to tip, round boulders of grey stone, vast crumpled surfaces of a thin crackling texture — all these objects lay across the snail’s progress between one stalk and another to his goal. Before he had decided whether to circumvent the arched tent of a dead leaf or to breast it there came past the bed the feet of other human beings.

This time they were both men. The younger of the two wore an expression of perhaps unnatural calm; he raised his eyes and fixed them very steadily in front of him while his companion spoke, and directly his companion had done speaking he looked on the ground again and sometimes opened his lips only after a long pause and sometimes did not open them at all. The elder man had a curiously uneven and shaky method of walking, jerking his hand forward and throwing up his head abruptly, rather in the manner of an impatient carriage horse tired of waiting outside a house; but in the man these gestures were irresolute and pointless. He talked almost incessantly; he smiled to himself and again began to talk, as if the smile had been an answer. He was talking about spirits — the spirits of the dead, who, according to him, were even now telling him all sorts of odd things about their experiences in Heaven.

“Heaven was known to the ancients as Thessaly, William, and now, with this war, the spirit matter is rolling between the hills like thunder.” He paused, seemed to listen, smiled, jerked his head and continued:—

“You have a small electric battery and a piece of rubber to insulate the wire — isolate? — insulate? — well, we’ll skip the details, no good going into details that wouldn’t be understood — and in short the little machine stands in any convenient position by the head of the bed, we will say, on a neat mahogany stand. All arrangements being properly fixed by workmen under my direction, the widow applies her ear and summons the spirit by sign as agreed. Women! Widows! Women in black —”

Here he seemed to have caught sight of a woman’s dress in the distance, which in the shade looked a purple black. He took off his hat, placed his hand upon his heart, and hurried towards her muttering and gesticulating feverishly. But William caught him by the sleeve and touched a flower with the tip of his walking-stick in order to divert the old man’s attention. After looking at it for a moment in some confusion the old man bent his ear to it and seemed to answer a voice speaking from it, for he began talking about the forests of Uruguay which he had visited hundreds of years ago in company with the most beautiful young woman in Europe. He could be heard murmuring about forests of Uruguay blanketed with the wax petals of tropical roses, nightingales, sea beaches, mermaids, and women drowned at sea, as he suffered himself to be moved on by William, upon whose face the look of stoical patience grew slowly deeper and deeper.

Following his steps so closely as to be slightly puzzled by his gestures came two elderly women of the lower middle class, one stout and ponderous, the other rosy cheeked and nimble. Like most people of their station they were frankly fascinated by any signs of eccentricity betokening a disordered brain, especially in the well-to-do; but they were too far off to be certain whether the gestures were merely eccentric or genuinely mad. After they had scrutinised the old man’s back in silence for a moment and given each other a queer, sly look, they went on energetically piecing together their very complicated dialogue:

“Nell, Bert, Lot, Cess, Phil, Pa, he says, I says, she says, I says, I says, I says —”

“My Bert, Sis, Bill, Grandad, the old man, sugar, Sugar, flour, kippers, greens, Sugar, sugar, sugar.”

The ponderous woman looked through the pattern of falling words at the flowers standing cool, firm, and upright in the earth, with a curious expression. She saw them as a sleeper waking from a heavy sleep sees a brass candlestick reflecting the light in an unfamiliar way, and closes his eyes and opens them, and seeing the brass candlestick again, finally starts broad awake and stares at the candlestick with all his powers. So the heavy woman came to a standstill opposite the oval-shaped flower bed, and ceased even to pretend to listen to what the other woman was saying. She stood there letting the words fall over her, swaying the top part of her body slowly backwards and forwards, looking at the flowers. Then she suggested that they should find a seat and have their tea.

The snail had now considered every possible method of reaching his goal without going round the dead leaf or climbing over it. Let alone the effort needed for climbing a leaf, he was doubtful whether the thin texture which vibrated with such an alarming crackle when touched even by the tip of his horns would bear his weight; and this determined him finally to creep beneath it, for there was a point where the leaf curved high enough from the ground to admit him. He had just inserted his head in the opening and was taking stock of the high brown roof and was getting used to the cool brown light when two other people came past outside on the turf. This time they were both young, a young man and a young woman. They were both in the prime of youth, or even in that season which precedes the prime of youth, the season before the smooth pink folds of the flower have burst their gummy case, when the wings of the butterfly, though fully grown, are motionless in the sun.

“Lucky it isn’t Friday,” he observed.

“Why? D’you believe in luck?”

“They make you pay sixpence on Friday.”

“What’s sixpence anyway? Isn’t it worth sixpence?”

“What’s ‘it’— what do you mean by ‘it’?”

“O, anything — I mean — you know what I mean.”

Long pauses came between each of these remarks; they were uttered in toneless and monotonous voices. The couple stood still on the edge of the flower bed, and together pressed the end of her parasol deep down into the soft earth. The action and the fact that his hand rested on the top of hers expressed their feelings in a strange way, as these short insignificant words also expressed something, words with short wings for their heavy body of meaning, inadequate to carry them far and thus alighting awkwardly upon the very common objects that surrounded them, and were to their inexperienced touch so massive; but who knows (so they thought as they pressed the parasol into the earth) what precipices aren’t concealed in them, or what slopes of ice don’t shine in the sun on the other side? Who knows? Who has ever seen this before? Even when she wondered what sort of tea they gave you at Kew, he felt that something loomed up behind her words, and stood vast and solid behind them; and the mist very slowly rose and uncovered — O, Heavens, what were those shapes? — little white tables, and waitresses who looked first at her and then at him; and there was a bill that he would pay with a real two shilling piece, and it was real, all real, he assured himself, fingering the coin in his pocket, real to everyone except to him and to her; even to him it began to seem real; and then — but it was too exciting to stand and think any longer, and he pulled the parasol out of the earth with a jerk and was impatient to find the place where one had tea with other people, like other people.

“Come along, Trissie; it’s time we had our tea.”

“Wherever does one have one’s tea?” she asked with the oddest thrill of excitement in her voice, looking vaguely round and letting herself be drawn on down the grass path, trailing her parasol, turning her head this way and that way, forgetting her tea, wishing to go down there and then down there, remembering orchids and cranes among wild flowers, a Chinese pagoda and a crimson crested bird; but he bore her on.

Thus one couple after another with much the same irregular and aimless movement passed the flower-bed and were enveloped in layer after layer of green blue vapour, in which at first their bodies had substance and a dash of colour, but later both substance and colour dissolved in the green-blue atmosphere. How hot it was! So hot that even the thrush chose to hop, like a mechanical bird, in the shadow of the flowers, with long pauses between one movement and the next; instead of rambling vaguely the white butterflies danced one above another, making with their white shifting flakes the outline of a shattered marble column above the tallest flowers the glass roofs of the palm house shone as if a whole market full of shiny green umbrellas had opened in the sun; and in the drone of the aeroplane the voice of the summer sky murmured its fierce soul. Yellow and black, pink and snow white, shapes of all these colours, men, women, and children were spotted for a second upon the horizon, and then, seeing the breadth of yellow that lay upon the grass, they wavered and sought shade beneath the trees, dissolving like drops of water in the yellow and green atmosphere, staining it faintly with red and blue. It seemed as if all gross and heavy bodies had sunk down in the heat motionless and lay huddled upon the ground, but their voices went wavering from them as if they were flames lolling from the thick waxen bodies of candles. Voices. Yes, voices. Wordless voices, breaking the silence suddenly with such depth of contentment, such passion of desire, or, in the voices of children, such freshness of surprise; breaking the silence? But there was no silence; all the time the motor omnibuses were turning their wheels and changing their gear; like a vast nest of Chinese boxes all of wrought steel turning ceaselessly one within another the city murmured; on the top of which the voices cried aloud and the petals of myriads of flowers flashed their colours into the air.

Virginia_Woolf_sign11

Monday or Tuesday, by Virginia Woolf
7. Kew Gardens

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VIRGINIA WOOLF: BLUE & GREEN

Virginia_Woolf12Virginia Woolf
(1882-1941)

6. Blue & Green
(from: Monday or Tuesday)

GREEN

The ported fingers of glass hang downwards. The light slides down the glass, and drops a pool of green. All day long the ten fingers of the lustre drop green upon the marble. The feathers of parakeets — their harsh cries — sharp blades of palm trees — green, too; green needles glittering in the sun. But the hard glass drips on to the marble; the pools hover above the dessert sand; the camels lurch through them; the pools settle on the marble; rushes edge them; weeds clog them; here and there a white blossom; the frog flops over; at night the stars are set there unbroken. Evening comes, and the shadow sweeps the green over the mantelpiece; the ruffled surface of ocean. No ships come; the aimless waves sway beneath the empty sky. It’s night; the needles drip blots of blue. The green’s out.

BLUE

The snub-nosed monster rises to the surface and spouts through his blunt nostrils two columns of water, which, fiery-white in the centre, spray off into a fringe of blue beads. Strokes of blue line the black tarpaulin of his hide. Slushing the water through mouth and nostrils he sings, heavy with water, and the blue closes over him dowsing the polished pebbles of his eyes. Thrown upon the beach he lies, blunt, obtuse, shedding dry blue scales. Their metallic blue stains the rusty iron on the beach. Blue are the ribs of the wrecked rowing boat. A wave rolls beneath the blue bells. But the cathedral’s different, cold, incense laden, faint blue with the veils of madonnas.

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Monday or Tuesday, by Virginia Woolf
6. Blue & Green

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VIRGINIA WOOLF: THE MARK ON THE WALL

Virginia_Woolf12Virginia Woolf
(1882-1941)

8. The Mark on the Wall
(from: Monday or Tuesday)

Perhaps it was the middle of January in the present that I first looked up and saw the mark on the wall. In order to fix a date it is necessary to remember what one saw. So now I think of the fire; the steady film of yellow light upon the page of my book; the three chrysanthemums in the round glass bowl on the mantelpiece. Yes, it must have been the winter time, and we had just finished our tea, for I remember that I was smoking a cigarette when I looked up and saw the mark on the wall for the first time.

I looked up through the smoke of my cigarette and my eye lodged for a moment upon the burning coals, and that old fancy of the crimson flag flapping from the castle tower came into my mind, and I thought of the cavalcade of red knights riding up the side of the black rock. Rather to my relief the sight of the mark interrupted the fancy, for it is an old fancy, an automatic fancy, made as a child perhaps. The mark was a small round mark, black upon the white wall, about six or seven inches above the mantelpiece.

How readily our thoughts swarm upon a new object, lifting it a little way, as ants carry a blade of straw so feverishly, and then leave it . . . If that mark was made by a nail, it can’t have been for a picture, it must have been for a miniature — the miniature of a lady with white powdered curls, powder-dusted cheeks, and lips like red carnations. A fraud of course, for the people who had this house before us would have chosen pictures in that way — an old picture for an old room. That is the sort of people they were — very interesting people, and I think of them so often, in such queer places, because one will never see them again, never know what happened next. They wanted to leave this house because they wanted to change their style of furniture, so he said, and he was in process of saying that in his opinion art should have ideas behind it when we were torn asunder, as one is torn from the old lady about to pour out tea and the young man about to hit the tennis ball in the back garden of the suburban villa as one rushes past in the train.

But as for that mark, I’m not sure about it; I don’t believe it was made by a nail after all; it’s too big, too round, for that. I might get up, but if I got up and looked at it, ten to one I shouldn’t be able to say for certain; because once a thing’s done, no one ever knows how it happened. Oh! dear me, the mystery of life; The inaccuracy of thought! The ignorance of humanity! To show how very little control of our possessions we have — what an accidental affair this living is after all our civilization — let me just count over a few of the things lost in one lifetime, beginning, for that seems always the most mysterious of losses — what cat would gnaw, what rat would nibble — three pale blue canisters of book-binding tools? Then there were the bird cages, the iron hoops, the steel skates, the Queen Anne coal-scuttle, the bagatelle board, the hand organ — all gone, and jewels, too. Opals and emeralds, they lie about the roots of turnips. What a scraping paring affair it is to be sure! The wonder is that I’ve any clothes on my back, that I sit surrounded by solid furniture at this moment. Why, if one wants to compare life to anything, one must liken it to being blown through the Tube at fifty miles an hour — landing at the other end without a single hairpin in one’s hair! Shot out at the feet of God entirely naked! Tumbling head over heels in the asphodel meadows like brown paper parcels pitched down a shoot in the post office! With one’s hair flying back like the tail of a race-horse. Yes, that seems to express the rapidity of life, the perpetual waste and repair; all so casual, all so haphazard . . .

But after life. The slow pulling down of thick green stalks so that the cup of the flower, as it turns over, deluges one with purple and red light. Why, after all, should one not be born there as one is born here, helpless, speechless, unable to focus one’s eyesight, groping at the roots of the grass, at the toes of the Giants? As for saying which are trees, and which are men and women, or whether there are such things, that one won’t be in a condition to do for fifty years or so. There will be nothing but spaces of light and dark, intersected by thick stalks, and rather higher up perhaps, rose-shaped blots of an indistinct colour — dim pinks and blues — which will, as time goes on, become more definite, become — I don’t know what . . .

And yet that mark on the wall is not a hole at all. It may even be caused by some round black substance, such as a small rose leaf, left over from the summer, and I, not being a very vigilant housekeeper — look at the dust on the mantelpiece, for example, the dust which, so they say, buried Troy three times over, only fragments of pots utterly refusing annihilation, as one can believe.

The tree outside the window taps very gently on the pane . . . I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle. I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard separate facts. To steady myself, let me catch hold of the first idea that passes . . . Shakespeare . . . Well, he will do as well as another. A man who sat himself solidly in an arm-chair, and looked into the fire, so — A shower of ideas fell perpetually from some very high Heaven down through his mind. He leant his forehead on his hand, and people, looking in through the open door — for this scene is supposed to take place on a summer’s evening — But how dull this is, this historical fiction! It doesn’t interest me at all. I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises. They are not thoughts directly praising oneself; that is the beauty of them; they are thoughts like this:

“And then I came into the room. They were discussing botany. I said how I’d seen a flower growing on a dust heap on the site of an old house in Kingsway. The seed, I said, must have been sown in the reign of Charles the First. What flowers grew in the reign of Charles the First?” I asked —(but, I don’t remember the answer). Tall flowers with purple tassels to them perhaps. And so it goes on. All the time I’m dressing up the figure of myself in my own mind, lovingly, stealthily, not openly adoring it, for if I did that, I should catch myself out, and stretch my hand at once for a book in self-protection. Indeed, it is curious how instinctively one protects the image of oneself from idolatry or any other handling that could make it ridiculous, or too unlike the original to be believed in any longer. Or is it not so very curious after all? It is a matter of great importance. Suppose the looking glass smashes, the image disappears, and the romantic figure with the green of forest depths all about it is there no longer, but only that shell of a person which is seen by other people — what an airless, shallow, bald, prominent world it becomes! A world not to be lived in. As we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways we are looking into the mirror that accounts for the vagueness, the gleam of glassiness, in our eyes. And the novelists in future will realize more and more the importance of these reflections, for of course there is not one reflection but an almost infinite number; those are the depths they will explore, those the phantoms they will pursue, leaving the description of reality more and more out of their stories, taking a knowledge of it for granted, as the Greeks did and Shakespeare perhaps — but these generalizations are very worthless. The military sound of the word is enough. It recalls leading articles, cabinet ministers — a whole class of things indeed which as a child one thought the thing itself, the standard thing, the real thing, from which one could not depart save at the risk of nameless damnation. Generalizations bring back somehow Sunday in London, Sunday afternoon walks, Sunday luncheons, and also ways of speaking of the dead, clothes, and habits — like the habit of sitting all together in one room until a certain hour, although nobody liked it. There was a rule for everything. The rule for tablecloths at that particular period was that they should be made of tapestry with little yellow compartments marked upon them, such as you may see in photographs of the carpets in the corridors of the royal palaces. Tablecloths of a different kind were not real tablecloths. How shocking, and yet how wonderful it was to discover that these real things, Sunday luncheons, Sunday walks, country houses, and tablecloths were not entirely real, were indeed half phantoms, and the damnation which visited the disbeliever in them was only a sense of illegitimate freedom. What now takes the place of those things I wonder, those real standard things? Men perhaps, should you be a woman; the masculine point of view which governs our lives, which sets the standard, which establishes Whitaker’s Table of Precedency, which has become, I suppose, since the war half a phantom to many men and women, which soon — one may hope, will be laughed into the dustbin where the phantoms go, the mahogany sideboards and the Landseer prints, Gods and Devils, Hell and so forth, leaving us all with an intoxicating sense of illegitimate freedom — if freedom exists . . .

In certain lights that mark on the wall seems actually to project from the wall. Nor is it entirely circular. I cannot be sure, but it seems to cast a perceptible shadow, suggesting that if I ran my finger down that strip of the wall it would, at a certain point, mount and descend a small tumulus, a smooth tumulus like those barrows on the South Downs which are, they say, either tombs or camps. Of the two I should prefer them to be tombs, desiring melancholy like most English people, and finding it natural at the end of a walk to think of the bones stretched beneath the turf . . . There must be some book about it. Some antiquary must have dug up those bones and given them a name . . . What sort of a man is an antiquary, I wonder? Retired Colonels for the most part, I daresay, leading parties of aged labourers to the top here, examining clods of earth and stone, and getting into correspondence with the neighbouring clergy, which, being opened at breakfast time, gives them a feeling of importance, and the comparison of arrow-heads necessitates cross-country journeys to the county towns, an agreeable necessity both to them and to their elderly wives, who wish to make plum jam or to clean out the study, and have every reason for keeping that great question of the camp or the tomb in perpetual suspension, while the Colonel himself feels agreeably philosophic in accumulating evidence on both sides of the question. It is true that he does finally incline to believe in the camp; and, being opposed, indites a pamphlet which he is about to read at the quarterly meeting of the local society when a stroke lays him low, and his last conscious thoughts are not of wife or child, but of the camp and that arrowhead there, which is now in the case at the local museum, together with the foot of a Chinese murderess, a handful of Elizabethan nails, a great many Tudor clay pipes, a piece of Roman pottery, and the wine-glass that Nelson drank out of — proving I really don’t know what.

No, no, nothing is proved, nothing is known. And if I were to get up at this very moment and ascertain that the mark on the wall is really — what shall we say? — the head of a gigantic old nail, driven in two hundred years ago, which has now, owing to the patient attrition of many generations of housemaids, revealed its head above the coat of paint, and is taking its first view of modern life in the sight of a white-walled fire-lit room, what should I gain? — Knowledge? Matter for further speculation? I can think sitting still as well as standing up. And what is knowledge? What are our learned men save the descendants of witches and hermits who crouched in caves and in woods brewing herbs, interrogating shrew-mice and writing down the language of the stars? And the less we honour them as our superstitions dwindle and our respect for beauty and health of mind increases . . . Yes, one could imagine a very pleasant world. A quiet, spacious world, with the flowers so red and blue in the open fields. A world without professors or specialists or house-keepers with the profiles of policemen, a world which one could slice with one’s thought as a fish slices the water with his fin, grazing the stems of the water-lilies, hanging suspended over nests of white sea eggs . . . How peaceful it is drown here, rooted in the centre of the world and gazing up through the grey waters, with their sudden gleams of light, and their reflections — if it were not for Whitaker’s Almanack — if it were not for the Table of Precedency!

I must jump up and see for myself what that mark on the wall really is — a nail, a rose-leaf, a crack in the wood?

Here is nature once more at her old game of self-preservation. This train of thought, she perceives, is threatening mere waste of energy, even some collision with reality, for who will ever be able to lift a finger against Whitaker’s Table of Precedency? The Archbishop of Canterbury is followed by the Lord High Chancellor; the Lord High Chancellor is followed by the Archbishop of York. Everybody follows somebody, such is the philosophy of Whitaker; and the great thing is to know who follows whom. Whitaker knows, and let that, so Nature counsels, comfort you, instead of enraging you; and if you can’t be comforted, if you must shatter this hour of peace, think of the mark on the wall.

I understand Nature’s game — her prompting to take action as a way of ending any thought that threatens to excite or to pain. Hence, I suppose, comes our slight contempt for men of action — men, we assume, who don’t think. Still, there’s no harm in putting a full stop to one’s disagreeable thoughts by looking at a mark on the wall.

Indeed, now that I have fixed my eyes upon it, I feel that I have grasped a plank in the sea; I feel a satisfying sense of reality which at once turns the two Archbishops and the Lord High Chancellor to the shadows of shades. Here is something definite, something real. Thus, waking from a midnight dream of horror, one hastily turns on the light and lies quiescent, worshipping the chest of drawers, worshipping solidity, worshipping reality, worshipping the impersonal world which is a proof of some existence other than ours. That is what one wants to be sure of . . . Wood is a pleasant thing to think about. It comes from a tree; and trees grow, and we don’t know how they grow. For years and years they grow, without paying any attention to us, in meadows, in forests, and by the side of rivers — all things one likes to think about. The cows swish their tails beneath them on hot afternoons; they paint rivers so green that when a moorhen dives one expects to see its feathers all green when it comes up again. I like to think of the fish balanced against the stream like flags blown out; and of water-beetles slowly raiding domes of mud upon the bed of the river. I like to think of the tree itself:— first the close dry sensation of being wood; then the grinding of the storm; then the slow, delicious ooze of sap. I like to think of it, too, on winter’s nights standing in the empty field with all leaves close-furled, nothing tender exposed to the iron bullets of the moon, a naked mast upon an earth that goes tumbling, tumbling, all night long. The song of birds must sound very loud and strange in June; and how cold the feet of insects must feel upon it, as they make laborious progresses up the creases of the bark, or sun themselves upon the thin green awning of the leaves, and look straight in front of them with diamond-cut red eyes . . . One by one the fibres snap beneath the immense cold pressure of the earth, then the last storm comes and, falling, the highest branches drive deep into the ground again. Even so, life isn’t done with; there are a million patient, watchful lives still for a tree, all over the world, in bedrooms, in ships, on the pavement, lining rooms, where men and women sit after tea, smoking cigarettes. It is full of peaceful thoughts, happy thoughts, this tree. I should like to take each one separately — but something is getting in the way . . . Where was I? What has it all been about? A tree? A river? The Downs? Whitaker’s Almanack? The fields of asphodel? I can’t remember a thing. Everything’s moving, falling, slipping, vanishing . . . There is a vast upheaval of matter. Someone is standing over me and saying —

“I’m going out to buy a newspaper.”

“Yes?”

“Though it’s no good buying newspapers . . . Nothing ever happens. Curse this war; God damn this war! . . . All the same, I don’t see why we should have a snail on our wall.”

Ah, the mark on the wall! It was a snail.

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Monday or Tuesday, by Virginia Woolf
8. The Mark on the Wall

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VIRGINIA WOOLF: THE STRING QUARTET

Virginia_Woolf12Virginia Woolf
(1882-1941)

5. The String Quartet
(from: Monday or Tuesday)

Well, here we are, and if you cast your eye over the room you will see that Tubes and trams and omnibuses, private carriages not a few, even, I venture to believe, landaus with bays in them, have been busy at it, weaving threads from one end of London to the other. Yet I begin to have my doubts —

If indeed it’s true, as they’re saying, that Regent Street is up, and the Treaty signed, and the weather not cold for the time of year, and even at that rent not a flat to be had, and the worst of influenza its after effects; if I bethink me of having forgotten to write about the leak in the larder, and left my glove in the train; if the ties of blood require me, leaning forward, to accept cordially the hand which is perhaps offered hesitatingly —

“Seven years since we met!”

“The last time in Venice.”

“And where are you living now?”

“Well, the late afternoon suits me the best, though, if it weren’t asking too much —”

“But I knew you at once!”

“Still, the war made a break —”

If the mind’s shot through by such little arrows, and — for human society compels it — no sooner is one launched than another presses forward; if this engenders heat and in addition they’ve turned on the electric light; if saying one thing does, in so many cases, leave behind it a need to improve and revise, stirring besides regrets, pleasures, vanities, and desires — if it’s all the facts I mean, and the hats, the fur boas, the gentlemen’s swallow-tail coats, and pearl tie-pins that come to the surface — what chance is there?

Of what? It becomes every minute more difficult to say why, in spite of everything, I sit here believing I can’t now say what, or even remember the last time it happened.

“Did you see the procession?”

“The King looked cold.”

“No, no, no. But what was it?”

“She’s bought a house at Malmesbury.”

“How lucky to find one!”

On the contrary, it seems to me pretty sure that she, whoever she may be, is damned, since it’s all a matter of flats and hats and sea gulls, or so it seems to be for a hundred people sitting here well dressed, walled in, furred, replete. Not that I can boast, since I too sit passive on a gilt chair, only turning the earth above a buried memory, as we all do, for there are signs, if I’m not mistaken, that we’re all recalling something, furtively seeking something. Why fidget? Why so anxious about the sit of cloaks; and gloves — whether to button or unbutton? Then watch that elderly face against the dark canvas, a moment ago urbane and flushed; now taciturn and sad, as if in shadow. Was it the sound of the second violin tuning in the ante-room? Here they come; four black figures, carrying instruments, and seat themselves facing the white squares under the downpour of light; rest the tips of their bows on the music stand; with a simultaneous movement lift them; lightly poise them, and, looking across at the player opposite, the first violin counts one, two, three —

Flourish, spring, burgeon, burst! The pear tree on the top of the mountain. Fountains jet; drops descend. But the waters of the Rhone flow swift and deep, race under the arches, and sweep the trailing water leaves, washing shadows over the silver fish, the spotted fish rushed down by the swift waters, now swept into an eddy where — it’s difficult this — conglomeration of fish all in a pool; leaping, splashing, scraping sharp fins; and such a boil of current that the yellow pebbles are churned round and round, round and round — free now, rushing downwards, or even somehow ascending in exquisite spirals into the air; curled like thin shavings from under a plane; up and up . . . How lovely goodness is in those who, stepping lightly, go smiling through the world! Also in jolly old fishwives, squatted under arches, oh scene old women, how deeply they laugh and shake and rollick, when they walk, from side to side, hum, hah!

“That’s an early Mozart, of course —”

“But the tune, like all his tunes, makes one despair — I mean hope. What do I mean? That’s the worst of music! I want to dance, laugh, eat pink cakes, yellow cakes, drink thin, sharp wine. Or an indecent story, now — I could relish that. The older one grows the more one likes indecency. Hall, hah! I’m laughing. What at? You said nothing, nor did the old gentleman opposite . . . But suppose — suppose — Hush!”

The melancholy river bears us on. When the moon comes through the trailing willow boughs, I see your face, I hear your voice and the bird singing as we pass the osier bed. What are you whispering? Sorrow, sorrow. Joy, joy. Woven together, like reeds in moonlight. Woven together, inextricably commingled, bound in pain and strewn in sorrow — crash!

The boat sinks. Rising, the figures ascend, but now leaf thin, tapering to a dusky wraith, which, fiery tipped, draws its twofold passion from my heart. For me it sings, unseals my sorrow, thaws compassion, floods with love the sunless world, nor, ceasing, abates its tenderness but deftly, subtly, weaves in and out until in this pattern, this consummation, the cleft ones unify; soar, sob, sink to rest, sorrow and joy.

Why then grieve? Ask what? Remain unsatisfied? I say all’s been settled; yes; laid to rest under a coverlet of rose leaves, falling. Falling. Ah, but they cease. One rose leaf, falling from an enormous height, like a little parachute dropped from an invisible balloon, turns, flutters waveringly. It won’t reach us.

“No, no. I noticed nothing. That’s the worst of music — these silly dreams. The second violin was late, you say?”

“There’s old Mrs. Munro, feeling her way out — blinder each year, poor woman — on this slippery floor.”

Eyeless old age, grey-headed Sphinx . . . There she stands on the pavement, beckoning, so sternly, the red omnibus.

“How lovely! How well they play! How — how — how!”

The tongue is but a clapper. Simplicity itself. The feathers in the hat next me are bright and pleasing as a child’s rattle. The leaf on the plane-tree flashes green through the chink in the curtain. Very strange, very exciting.

“How — how — how!” Hush!

These are the lovers on the grass.

“If, madam, you will take my hand —”

“Sir, I would trust you with my heart. Moreover, we have left our bodies in the banqueting hall. Those on the turf are the shadows of our souls.”

“Then these are the embraces of our souls.” The lemons nod assent. The swan pushes from the bank and floats dreaming into mid stream.

“But to return. He followed me down the corridor, and, as we turned the corner, trod on the lace of my petticoat. What could I do but cry ‘Ah!’ and stop to finger it? At which he drew his sword, made passes as if he were stabbing something to death, and cried, ‘Mad! Mad! Mad!’ Whereupon I screamed, and the Prince, who was writing in the large vellum book in the oriel window, came out in his velvet skull-cap and furred slippers, snatched a rapier from the wall — the King of Spain’s gift, you know — on which I escaped, flinging on this cloak to hide the ravages to my skirt — to hide . . . But listen! the horns!”

The gentleman replies so fast to the lady, and she runs up the scale with such witty exchange of compliment now culminating in a sob of passion, that the words are indistinguishable though the meaning is plain enough — love, laughter, flight, pursuit, celestial bliss — all floated out on the gayest ripple of tender endearment — until the sound of the silver horns, at first far distant, gradually sounds more and more distinctly, as if seneschals were saluting the dawn or proclaiming ominously the escape of the lovers . . . The green garden, moonlit pool, lemons, lovers, and fish are all dissolved in the opal sky, across which, as the horns are joined by trumpets and supported by clarions there rise white arches firmly planted on marble pillars . . . Tramp and trumpeting. Clang and clangour. Firm establishment. Fast foundations. March of myriads. Confusion and chaos trod to earth. But this city to which we travel has neither stone nor marble; hangs enduring; stands unshakable; nor does a face, nor does a flag greet or welcome. Leave then to perish your hope; droop in the desert my joy; naked advance. Bare are the pillars; auspicious to none; casting no shade; resplendent; severe. Back then I fall, eager no more, desiring only to go, find the street, mark the buildings, greet the applewoman, say to the maid who opens the door: A starry night.

“Good night, good night. You go this way?”

“Alas. I go that.”

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Monday or Tuesday, by Virginia Woolf
5. The String Quartet

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