Tuesday, January 13, 2015

the unseen part

"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."

- Virginia Woolf

“Clarissa had a theory in those days - they had heaps of theories, always theories, as young people have. It was to explain the feeling they had of dissatisfaction; not knowing people; not being known. For how could they know each other? You met every day; then not for six months, or years. It was unsatisfactory, they agreed, how little one knew people. But she said, sitting on the bus going up Shaftesbury Avenue, she felt herself everywhere; not 'here, here, here'; and she tapped the back of the seat; but everywhere. She waved her hand, going up Shaftesbury Avenue. She was all that. So that to know her, or any one, one must seek out the people who completed them; even the places. Odd affinities she had with people she had never spoke to, some women in the street, some man behind a counter - even trees, or barns. It ended in a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her scepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places, after death. Perhaps - perhaps.”

- Virginia Woolf

The first Woolf I read was Mrs. Dalloway, and the exact copy I read was this one with the painting by William Strang "The Harlequin Hat" on the cover, published by Granada, and part of a boxed set. Rob owned it before I met him. The other copies have disappeared because the binding disintegrated, but we kept this one for the cover all these years.

The book opened things up for me, and led me to other books, Woolf, of course, but others, too.

The passage above. The idea or 'transcendental theory' that there is the part of us which appears, and the unseen part of us - which may somehow live on. Who else but Woolf would strike upon such a meditation? And the idea that we must seek out people and places who complete us, with whom we share affinities. How weird it sounds, how true.

And so for Christmas Rob painted the cover of the book for me.

I feel now I'm only missing the hat....


  1. Oh what a wonderful painting and beautiful gift! I have not read "Mrs. Dalloway" but I think I need to now. I like the idea that there is an unseen part of us that lives on. If I ever come across a hat like that, I'll send it to you!

    1. I do love it :) Thanks, Susan! I wonder if a hat like that can exist these days? lol.

  2. Gorgeous! perfectly hung next to the wings :) xo

  3. No doubt that Crafty Kid could make you one . . .
    Love that cover, and the painting.


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