Well, war came-as it happens, not so very long after Woolf wrote her book and my mother arrived in England. Strangely enough, my mother, who was 17 at the time (about 40 years younger than Woolf) and who had been denied an education in a far more forceful manner than anything to which Woolf and the daughters of educated men had been subjected, was able despite her disadvantages to spot at once the morally relevant difference between Britain and her erstwhile homeland.
Had Woolf's views prevailed, of course, my mother's life would have been a short one. Failing to notice the brutal dictatorship under which the daughters of educated men lived, she became a fire-watcher by night during the Blitz and a mechanic constructing tank engines by day. She did not refuse to knit socks.
Once the war started and the bombs began to fall (destroying the Woolfs' London house), even Woolf began to think that a Nazi victory might not be such a good thing. Even more astonishing, she began to see virtues in the very people whom previously she had only disdained. Writing to the composer Ethel Smyth in 1940, she said: "What I'm finding odd and agreeable and unwonted is the admiration this war creates - for every sort of person: chars, shopkeepers, even more remarkably, for politicians - Winston at least - and the tweed-wearing, sterling dull women here... with their grim good sense."
Eventually, Woolf must have wondered from what deep source the virtues she noticed had arisen - or could they have been present all along and she had failed to notice them? Might the revelation by the war of the utter frivolity of her previous attitudinising have contributed to her decision to commit suicide? If the good life is a matter of judgment, the war proved that all her adult life she had none. My mother, with her wrench by day and helmet by night, did more for civilisation (a word that Woolf enclosed in quotation marks in Three Guineas, as if did not really exist) than Woolf had ever done, with her jewelled prose disguising her narcissistic rage.
Had Woolf survived to our time, however, she would at least have had the satisfaction of observing that her cast of mind - shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, and ultimately brutal - had triumphed among the elites of the western world.
Adéu a Nihil Obstat | Hola a The Catalan AnalystDesprés de 13 anys d'escriure en aquest bloc pràcticament sense interrumpció, avui el dono per clausurat. Això no vol dir que m'hagi jubilat de la xarxa, sinó que he passat el relleu a un altra bloc que segueix la mateixa línia del Nihil Obstat. Es tracta del bloc The Catalan Analyst i del compte de Twitter del mateix nom: @CatalanAnalyst Us recomano que els seguiu.
Moltes gràcies a tots per haver-me seguit amb tanta fidelitat durant tots aquests anys.
divendres, 23 de juliol de 2010
La culpa és de Bloomsbury
Ella és un dels escriptors més influents de l'era moderna. Però, argumenta a The Guardian Theodore Dalrymple, amb la seva barreja fatal de privilegi i autocompassió, Virginia Woolf ha infligit un dany durador a la cultura occidental.
Publicado por NO a les 1:24 p. m.