Friday, December 9, 2016

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Me.

Liz and Dick being outrageous on film, with George Segal as an innocent bystander.
I have always wanted to be one of those special people who read Virginia Woolf, although I'm a little frightened of her because she was quite insane and ended up drowning herself in a river, fully clothed and with a big rock in her coat pocket to weigh her down, a method of suicide that seems really unpleasant and pretty boring; at least in the ocean there are waves and currents to keep you interested until the end. But that's another subject altogether. Anyway, my friend Greg in Pittsburgh is one of those special people, for other reasons as well, and his favorite book is Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Solely on Greg's recommendation I have tried and tried to read it but have never gotten anywhere near the lighthouse, in fact I've barely arrived at page three.

I have danced around Virginia Woolf for most of my life. Naturally I saw the 1966 film adaptation starring Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, and several stage productions of the play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. And I've done quite well reading books about books by Virginia Woolf. Right now I immersed again in an old favorite, The Hours by Michael Cunningham. It won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1998 and became an Oscar-winning movie in 2002. It's all about Mrs. Dalloway, a novel by Virginia Woolf, and it makes me want to try to read the real thing. (Again.)

So this morning I went to my bookshelves and found a copy of Mrs. Dalloway, my third I think since I loaned the others over the years and never asked for them back. I am determined to read it all the way through this time, and then read To The Lighthouse, and then read all her other books; I already own two more I have tried and failed at, and I read in college that I hardly remember. This is my early New Year's resolution, and it's a relief to have that decided, at least: In 2017 I will be one of those special people who reads Virginia Woolf. Plus I might lose a few pounds and meditate daily and eliminate all red meat and a couple of other things. But Virginia Woolf is for sure.

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