How then did it work out, all this? How did one judge people, think of them? How did one add up this and that and conclude that it was liking on felt, or disliking? And to those words, what meaning attached, after all?
- Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
I know I’ve done Virginia Woolf already — I highlighted the perennial Mrs. Dalloway back in September 2010 — but yesterday was the 70th anniversary of her suicide, so I felt it apropos to quote her today. Also, I happen to have just started To the Lighthouse for my Modernist Masterpieces course. You can see her suicide note to her husband Leonard here at our Tumblr. (Remember, though we no longer use Tumblr to host our website, we still keep it active with lots of literary, artistic, and musical tidbits!)
Published in May, 1927, To the Lighthouse is the epitome of high modernism (hence it being assigned for my Modernist Masterpieces class…along with novels by Joyce, Proust, Faulkner, Beckett, and Kafka). The plot takes the backseat to philosophical and psychological thought, as this quotation demonstrates: how do we determine whom we like and whom we dislike? And even when we do, what do those words signify?