Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf's Voice?

Virginia Woolf wrote some of the most beautiful, poetic prose in the English language.  Think of the opening of her novel Mrs. Dalloway
What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said, “Musing among the vegetables?”—was that it?—“I prefer men to cauliflowers”—was that it?
 It's probably just as well that we didn't have to listen to her read it aloud in the stuffy, stilted voice revealed in the story, "Recordings Capture Writer's Voices Off the Page," but check out Vladimir Nabokov and the others.  You can hear her and other authors reading their material aloud or just extemporising in some rare audio recordings just released by the BBC.   From NPR, on All Things Considered, October 23.  

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