Monday, June 14, 2010

Essay: "STreet Haunting." Virginia Woolf.

Review: She needs to have something to do. She can’t just go out. She needs to have a purpose. She decides to buy a pencil—on a cold winter evening. She moves down the street, encounters people and tries to enter their lives for just a few moments. She lets her imagination run free into the houses of leaders of state. She builds and furnishes beautiful houses. She lets her mind wander in the stream of consciousness. The book shop becomes the personalities of the people who have written travel books. Finally, she returns home to her familiar surroundings with her treasure—the pencil.

In the book shop: “There are travelers, too, row upon row of them, still testifying, indomitable spinsters that they were, to the discomforts that they endured and the sunsets they admired in Greece….”

“One must, one always must, do something or other; it is not allowed one simply to enjoy oneself.”

“It is always an adventure to enter a new room; for the lives and characters of its owners have distilled their atmosphere into it, and directly we enter it we breast some new wave of emotion.”

“Into each of these lives one could penetrate a little way, far enough to give oneself the illusion that one is not tethered to a single mind, but can put on briefly for a few minutes the bodies and minds of others.”

“…escape is the greatest of pleasures; street haunting in winter the greatest of adventures.”

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995.

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