Thursday, January 26, 2012

Virginia Woolf: The Flight of Time

Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge is one of the great essays on alcoholism, second only to The Shining. And even if you’re brain is dry, you should run to see the elegant edition of Hardy’s classic on display in Virginia Woolf: The Flight of Time, in its last precious few days at the Carrere Gallery in the Forbes Building on lower Fifth Avenue. Here’s a brief note, exhibited in the show, which V.W. wrote to Hardy’s widow. “I was very much disappointed not to come to your lunch the other day. I had been dining out the night before and fainted owing to the heat. So that it seemed unwise to go out again the next day. Indeed I stayed in bed. But I am quite well again now and hope very much I may see you later.” Contrast this to what V.W. wrote to her sister Vanessa Bell decades later, on 3/28/41, the day she took her life, by walking into the sea. “I feel that I have gone too far to come back again. I am certain now that I am going mad again. It’s just as it was the first time. I am always hearing voices and I know I shan’t get over it now.” And here is what Virginia’s beloved Vita Sackville-West would write in the manuscript of a poem, which appears in the exhibit, “Frugal, austere, fancy, proud/Rich in her contradictions, rich I love/Some say, she lived in an unreal world…she now has gone/Into the prouder world of immortality.” And now back to Hardy’s Mayor who was also riven by creative and self-destructive urges. Along with letters, memorabilia (like Woolf’s 1923 passport) and commentary, this gem of a show, comprised of works collected by William B. Beekman, includes Hogarth Press editions of Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves, whose extraordinary post-Impressionist covers, show the influence of her lover Roger Fry, who had written extensively on Cezanne and Van Gogh.  Some creative publisher must bring these wonderful non-sequiturs back from the dead.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post! Exhibition catalogues are available at The collection itself is for sale en bloc.


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