“We live without a future”

woolf final

Virginia Woolf: detail from her final session with a professional photographer, Gisèle Freund Photo: Gisèle Freund/IMEC/Fonds MCC.

Virginia Woolf’s house was destroyed by bombings in the Second World War. One of the last entries in her journals before her suicide has imagery that lacerates. She sounds almost bemused by the despair she conveys, as if observing it at arm’s length from outside herself, ever the writer even in contemplation of vanishing. Her penultimate jotting limns awfulness with simple, slamming force — begging the question: Has the future returned?

“A kind of growl behind the cuckoos and t’other birds. A furnace behind the sky. It struck me that one curious feeling is, that the writing ‘I’ has vanished. No audience. No echo. . . . We live without a future. That’s what’s queer: with our noses pressed to a closed door.”

(Quoted by Erin Overbey, archive editor, The New Yorker, 10-30-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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