Virginia Woolf Quotes (269 Quotes)



    You were given a sharp, acute, uncomfortable grain..; yet in absence, in the most unlikely places, it would flower out, open, shed its scent, let you touch, taste, look about you, get the whole feel of it and understanding, after years of lying lost.

    The taste for books was an early one. As a child he was sometimes found at midnight by a page still reading. They took his taper away, and he bred glow-worms to serve his purpose. They took the glow-worms away and he almost burnt the house down with a tinder.




    She belonged to a different age, but being so entire, so complete, would always stand up on the horizon, stone-white, eminent, like a lighthouse marking some past stage on this adventurous, long, long voyage, this interminable --- this interminable life.

    For it has come about, by the wise economy of nature, that our modern spirit can almost dispense with language; the commonest expressions do, since no expressions do; hence the most ordinary conversation is often the most poetic, and the most poetic is precisely that which cannot be written down.

    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.

    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?

    For this is the truth about our soul, he thought, who fish-like inhabits deep seas and plies among obscurities threading her way between the boles of giant weeds, over sun-flickered spaces and on and on into gloom, cold, deep, inscrutable; suddenly she shoots to the surface and sports on the wind-wrinkled waves; that is, has a positive need to brush, scrape, kindle herself, gossiping.



    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?


    A million candles burnt in him without his being at the trouble of lighting a single one

    There was a serenity about him always that had the look of innocence, when, technically, the word was no longer applicable.

    She felt... how life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up with it and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach.

    And there is a dignity in people; a solitude; even between husband and wife a gulf; and that one must respect, thought Clarissa, watching him open the door; for one would not part with it oneself, or take it, against his will, from one's husband, without losing one's independence, one's self-respect-something, after all, priceless.

    She came into a room; she stood, as he had often seen her, in a doorway with lots of people round her. But it was Clarissa one remembered. Not that she was striking; not beautiful at all; there was nothing picturesque about her; she never said anything specially clever; there she was however; there she was.

    For it would seem - her case proved it - that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.

    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.


    Half the time she did things not simply, not for themselves; but to make people think this or that; perfect idiocy she knew for no one was ever for a second taken in.


    Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind.

    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?

    Love and religion! thought Clarissa, going back into the drawing room, tingling all over. How detestable, how detestable they are!

    A woman knows very well that, though a wit sends her his poems, praises her judgment, solicits her criticism, and drinks her tea, this by no means signifies that he respects her opinions, admires her understanding, or will refuse, though the rapier is denied him, to run through the body with his pen.

    To evade such temptations is the first duty of the poet. For as the ear is the antechamber to the soul, poetry can adulterate and destroy more surely then lust or gunpowder. The poet's, then, is the highest office of all. His words reach where others fall short. A silly song of Shakespeare's has done more for the poor and the wicked than all the preachers and philanthropists in the world.

    So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were stuck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sea.


    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 - Nature - View All Virginia Woolf Quotations

    More Virginia Woolf Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Mrs. Dalloway
    - Orlando
    - To the Lighthouse

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