Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” Quotes (40 Quotes)


    He turned from the sight of human ignorance and human fate and the sea eating the ground we stand on, which, had he been able to contemplate it fixedly might have led to something; and found consolation in trifles so slight compared with the august theme just now before him that he was disposed to slur that comfort over, to deprecate it, as if to be caught happy in a world of misery was for an honest man the most despicable of crimes.

    The sigh of all the seas breaking in measure round the isles soothed them; the night wrapped them; nothing broke their sleep, until, the birds beginning and the dawn weaving their thin voices in to its whiteness

    Heaven be praised, no one had heard her cry that ignominious cry, stop pain, stop! She had not obviously taken leave of her senses. No one had seen her step off her strip of board into the waters of annihilation.

    The spring without a leaf to toss, bare and bright like a virgin fierce in her chastity, scornful in her purity, was laid out on fields wide-eyed and watchful and entirely careless of what was done or thought by the beholders.

    How then did it work out, all this? How did one judge people, think of them? How did one add up this and that and conclude that it is liking one felt, or disliking? And to those words, what meaning attached, after all?


    The strange thing about life is that though the nature of it must have been apparent to every one for hundreds of years, no one has left any adequate account of it.

    If Shakespeare had never existed, he asked, would the world have differed much from what it is today? Does the progress of civilization depend upon great men? Is the lot of the average human being better now that in the time of the Pharaohs?


    A sort of transaction went on between them, in which she was on one side, and life was on another, and she was always trying to get the better of it, as it was of her.

    It flattered her, where she was most susceptible of flattery, to think how, wound about in their hearts, however long they lived she would be woven...

    There is a coherence in things, a stability; something... is immune from change and shines out... in the face of the flowing, the fleeting, the spectral, like a ruby.

    About here, she thought, dabbling her fingers in the water, a ship had sunk, and she muttered, dreamily half asleep, how we perished, each alone.


    They came to her, naturally, since she was a woman, all day long with this and that; one wanting this, another that; the children were growing up; she often felt she was nothing but a sponge sopped full of human emotions.


    It was love, she thought, love that never clutch its object; but, like the love which mathematicians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases, was meant to be spread over the world and become part of human gain. The world by all means should have shared it, could Mr Bankes have said why that woman pleased him so; why the sight of her reading a fairy tale to her boy had upon him precisely the same effect as the solution of a scientific problem.

    To pursue truth with such astonishing lack of consideration for other people's feelings, to rend the think veils of civilisation so wantonly, so brutally, was to her so horrible an outrage of human decency that, without replying, dazed and blinded, she bend her head as if to let her pelt f jagged hail, the drench of dirty water, bespatter her unrebuked.

    Beauty had this penalty - it came too readily, came too completely. It stilled life - froze it. One forgot the little agitations; the flush, the pallor, some queer distortion, some light or shadow, which made the face unrecognizable for a moment and yet added a quality one saw for ever after.

    Never did anybody look so sad. Bitter and black, halfway down, in the darkness, in the shaft which ran from the sunlight to the depths, perhaps a tear formed; a tear fell; the waves swayed this way and that, received it, and were at rest. Never did anybody look so sad.

    Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world? No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle, and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air? Could it be, even for elderly people, that this was life?--startling, unexpected, unknown?

    Brooding, she changed the pool into the sea, and made the minnows into sharks and whales, and cast vast clouds over this tiny world by holding her hand against the sun, and so brought darkness and desolation, like God himself, to millions of ignorant and innocent creatures, and then took her hand away suddenly and let the sun stream down.

    No, she thought, one could say nothing to nobody. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low.




    With her foot on the threshold she waited a moment longer in a scene which was vanishing even as she looked, and then, as she moved and took Minta's arm and left the room, it changed, it shaped itself differently; it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past.

    But this was one way of knowing people, she thought: to know the outline, not the detail, to sit in one's garden and look at the slopes of a hill running purple down into the distant heather.

    One wanted, she thought, dipping her brush deliberately, to be on a level with ordinary experience, to feel simply that's a chair, that's a table, and yet at the same time, It's a miracle, it's an ecstasy.




    More Virginia Woolf Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Mind - Life - World - Woman - Thought & Thinking - Man - People - Time - Literature - Sense & Perception - Soul - Body - Love - Emotions - Truth - Poetry - Sadness - Water - Books - View All Virginia Woolf Quotations

    More Virginia Woolf Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Mrs. Dalloway
    - Orlando
    - To the Lighthouse

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