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I read recently that VW liked things to "vibrate" because when they stop that is when you see things clearly, for what they are.. which is not good .. the "golden haze" reminds me of that ..

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That is very interesting!! Is this from a letter of hers? Or a bio?

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"Besides, she knew, directly she came into the room, that the miracle had happened; she wore her golden haze. Sometimes she had it; sometimes not. She never knew why it came or why it went, or if she had it until she came into the room and then she knew instantly by the way some man looked at her."

Minta seems to recognize it more than she controls it. Youth. Love. Both? Something understandable only after one loses it? Really interesting moment....

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Agree. She acknowledges in her recognition that she doesn't control it. "She never knew why it came or why it went, or if she had it until she came into the room and then she knew instantly by the way some man looked at her." She seems to be at the mercy of it. :(

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I love that phrase "gaunt but gallant." It makes the young Mr. Ramsey come to life and shows what attracted her, all in three words.

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How did Mrs Dalloway sneak in here? ;-)

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Oops! This has been updated!

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It would be an interesting rematch. Who gave a better dinner party?

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I love the way this chapter ends with Mrs. Ramsey taking a bow. She has played her role, she has succeeded at her mission to have the dinner party a success, and now she can leave by taking her bow. But the last line--where she looks over her shoulder and sees the evening is already, so quickly, in the past--for someone who has not read the book, this is ominous, while at the same time it is exactly how we all live, none of us knowing the future, all of us living through major events of our lives only to have them recede immediately into the unchangeable past. All of us moving into the future. "And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves." Sing it!

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Even the room has a voice in the end!

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The ending lines of the chapter also seem an answer to the question posed earlier: “but how long do you think it will last?” Woolf carefully places that question in the mouth of “somebody.” No one in particular, a universal question.

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This bow at the end of 17 echoes the one that ended 16 and preceded the dinner, opening and closing this memory so elegantly. I agree this ending is ominous

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oh, you are so right! I'd forgotten that little bow at the end of 16. Thank you!

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Two observations from different characters regarding the duality of romantic love, its simultaneous gravity and beauty and campiness or coarseness or gaudiness:

Mrs. Ramsay:

"This will celebrate the occasion—a curious sense rising in her, at once freakish and tender, of celebrating a festival, as if two emotions were called up in her, one profound—for what could be more serious than the love of man for woman, what more commanding, more impressive, bearing in its bosom the seeds of death; at the same time these lovers, these people entering into illusion glittering eyed, must be danced round with mockery, decorated with garlands."

Lily:

"Such was the complexity of things. For what happened to her, especially staying with the Ramsays, was to be made to feel violently two opposite things at the same time; that’s what you feel, was one; that’s what I feel, was the other, and then they fought together in her mind, as now. It is so beautiful, so exciting, this love, that I tremble on the verge of it, and offer, quite out of my own habit, to look for a brooch on a beach; also it is the stupidest, the most barbaric of human passions, and turns a nice young man with a profile like a gem’s (Paul’s was exquisite) into a bully with a crowbar (he was swaggering, he was insolent) in the Mile End Road."

And yet between men and women there is dissonance about what romantic love is, according to Lily:

"Yet, she said to herself, from the dawn of time odes have been sung to love; wreaths heaped and roses; and if you asked nine people out of ten they would say they wanted nothing but this—love; while the women, judging from her own experience, would all the time be feeling, This is not what we want; there is nothing more tedious, puerile, and inhumane than this; yet it is also beautiful and necessary. Well then, well then?"

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This may be the most generous thought I've ever read or heard coming from someone about another who is annoying her. Lily on Tansley: "Success would be good for him."

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And somehow, the generosity gives Lily the upper hand....

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I don’t think it’s truly a generous thought.

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Not if she's being ironic. I think most people tend to assume that those who annoy them aren't or can't be successful in some meaningful sense.

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Someone reaches for a pear. You can’t have your fruit and eat it, too!

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I was struck by the fact that she looks at Rose in sympathy, as Rose had created the centerpiece of fruit, and now it has been spoiled. But then she thinks "How odd that one's child should do that." Does that mean that Rose took the pear? That Rose created a thing and then dismantled it. Or is she considering the original fact that Rose put together the centerpiece? I originally thought the first but now I'm unsure.

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Not sure, either!

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I wondered that, too. And I wondered why Woolf has Mrs. Ramsay notice the shapes and colors, rather than Lily.

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Yes, same. At first I thought it must be Lily.

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Reminiscent, also, of the last paragraph in the previous reading. When Mrs. Ramsey studies the centerpiece: “...of the horny pink-lined shell, of the bananas, made her think of a trophy fetched from the bottom of the sea...among the leopard skins and the torches lolloping red and gold...” I wondered why Mrs. Ramsey and Augustus were united in looking, rather than the poet and the painter. Maybe too neat? Maybe to achieve a satisfying complexity that imitates life, it needs to be someone other than Lily?

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Maybe VW wants us to see that artistic perceptions reside in all people. The artists(Lily, Carmichael, Virginia) attempt to capture and enshrine them. Why do they have that need and drive? What makes the artist struggle to articulate what others (Mrs . Ramsey) feel and accept?

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I read it as as Mrs. R. commenting on Rose creating a bowl of fruit in a self-conscious way, like a composition, or a painting .. just as she likes to choose her mother's jewels for her ..

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I underlined the section on the literary criticism as well! Though Woolf was a critic as well as a writer, I can't help but wonder if this is partly her responding to critics of her own work. I still feel like her own process is something more tied in with Lily.

So many phrases and ideas come together by the end the chapter; Mrs. Ramsey finds something of value in almost all of the main characters and seems to be looking at them from afar, just as she was remembering the dinner party from years ago with people she barely remembers. Relationships that merge with beginnings and endings, desires and disappointment. And death.

"It could not last she knew, but at the moment her eyes were so clear that they seemed to go round the table unveiling each of these people, and their thoughts and their feelings, without effort like a light stealing under water so that its ripples and the reeds in it and the minnows balancing themselves, and the sudden silent trout are all lit up hanging, trembling."

I kept also thinking of the “out of it” section in the beginning of the chapter as it gets repeated here again. And the room gets a voice at the end of the flowing chapter: "it changed, it shaped itself differently; it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past."

Such ominous longing.

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I felt that same ominous foreshadowing here: “She looked at the window in which the candle flames burnt brighter now that the panes were black, and looking at that outside the voices came to her very strangely, as if they were voices in a service at a cathedral...” Also, just having typed that out, the rhythm of that sentence, its sounds, are extraordinary. Woolf can flat out write.

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I love how books "speak" to each other. Having recently read Jenny Offill's "Dept. of Speculation" in which she introduces the concept of an "art monster"--one who puts her art above all: "My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabakov didn't even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him." And then having read Claire Dederer's "Monsters", which asks if we can separate the art from a monstrous artist (in which Woolf is discussed), I can't help but hope Lily chooses to be an "art monster." In the dinner scene, where she keeps returning to her plan for her painting, I'm egging her on, "c'mon Lily, choose your art over the traditional path!"

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I’m sure interested in Dederer’s book ... a thorny issue.

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I won't go into detail here since that would be a DIFFERENT book club, however I'll just say it's worth the read. I have a bone to pick with some of the author's choices, however I'm still chewing on the book a few weeks after finishing it...which is telling about a book's value.

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I'm rooting for "art monster" too, and I love Dept. of Speculation, thank you for mentioning it!

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"For what happened to her, especially staying with the Ramsays, was to be made to feel violently two opposite things at the same time; that's what you feel, was one; that's what I feel, was the other, and then they fought together in her mind, as now."

I love this line, the way it sinks into the first person; the "f" sounds in "feel" and then "fought;" the way "violently" feels violent in the sentence and also connects to "fought;" how what one feels is often in opposition to what someone else feels; how we struggle to make sense of this opposition.

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Candles lit, night coming on, delicious food, anxieties subsiding, camaraderie all around: I’m feeling woozy and the dinner party feels familiar now.

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Two opposite at once - a common theme of the novel "Such was the complexity of things. For what happened to her, especially staying with the Ramsays, was to be made to feel violently two opposite things at the same time; that’s what you feel, was one; that’s what I feel, was the other, and then they fought together in her mind, as now. It is so beautiful, so exciting, this love, that I tremble on the verge of it."

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Just noticing repetition of tremble. This connecting to vibration that another reader mentioned VW liking. Interesting.

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There is lovely tension between permanence and change that runs through the novel, which is on full display at the party scene:

"[There[ seemed now for no special reason to stay there like a smoke, like a fume rising upwards, holding them safe together."

"It partook, she felt, carefully helping Mr. Bankes to a specially tender piece, of eternity; as she had already felt about something different once before that afternoon; there is a coherence in things, a stability; something, she meant, is immune from change, and shines out."

vs.

"Mr. Ramsay needed “somebody to say, Oh, but your work will last, Mr. Ramsay, or something like that."

"Ah, but how long do you think it’ll last?” said somebody. It was as if she had antennae trembling out from her"

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.”

"it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past.”

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You articulated that thread that runs through the novel so well, permanence and change. Mrs Ramsey relies on stability to deal with the changes and finds that stability in nature and objects and how she will be woven into those who love her after she is gone. I am always amazed at how Woolf can put in words what seems impenetrable

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Agree w what Margaret said, you pulled out that thread so well. Ah! The “antennae trembling”!

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What a brilliant, playful, masterful sentence: “It partook, she felt, carefully helping Mr. Bankes to a specially tender piece, of eternity…” - that winking comma, tempting our ear to drop it.

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I do think VW was of the Mr. Ramsay school and thought about her work and its place in history and whether it would last. Which of course it has, she changed the way people read and write, she advanced the art and did something truly original.

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And to think of the state of literature if she were more like Mr. Bankes...

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.. or Charles Tansley! But I like Charles Tansley ..! Maybe don't want to read him though!

But the state of literature is not .. something that Woolf did has been abandoned, I feel, and I don't think VW herself liked the term stream of consciousness .. I think in To the Lighthouse esp stream of consciousness does not really capture it ..

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Tansley's memoir: My Bloviating Heart

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"What does one live for... Foolish questions, vain questions, questions one never asked if one was occupied." Now that I'm at the age where that sort of thing can be indulged in, VW has much to say about that and more in a tour-de-force chapter.

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Checking in late today and surprised that no one has mentioned how the mood of the otherwise cantankerous Mr. Ramsay became playful upon the arrival of an attractive young woman. “She sat by Mr. Ramsay, which roused his chivalry… He liked these girls, these golden- reddish girls, with something flying, something a little wild, and harum-scarum about them,… There was some quality . . . some lustre, some richness, which attracted him, amused him, led him to make favourites of girls like Minta.“

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I find Mr. Ramsay to be a vain self-centered and insecure man--possibly a man of his time and situation--and Minta having to connect with him by playing dumb to be really appalling but perhaps that is my contemporary sensibility.

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I have been realizing that I’ve been reading the Mrs. R/Mr. R marriage with an overlay of assorted memories decades-old of a marriage I observed as a teen living outside New Haven. The man was more revered in his field than is Mr. R, but still there this sense that though she made the domestic world run that it pivoted entirely on his axis. And though both the wife and husband were aging, the man reportedly engaged in affairs while the woman just continued on in becoming more tired and less valued.

Trying to bat away this memory and experience Mrs. R as she is.

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