the waves

sea waves painting 1, on wood panel

i’ve been reading The Waves by Virginia Woolf (a vintage Penguin paperback). it’s weird how books seem to find me at certain times, they just turn up (or i happen to be more receptive to them), i never go out intentionally to buy them… by all accounts, this is one of Woolf’s most accomplished and complex works of fiction, although it’s not really a novel, but a slowly unravelling, rambling prose on the passage of life.

there are some beautiful descriptions of everyday things and clever turns of phrase, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, acute sensory experiences, all the wonder, anxiety, hope, doubt – all human feelings and responses, really… the use of language is very poetic, rhythmic and performative, and Woolf at the time referred to it as a play-poem.

sea waves painting 2, on wood panel

i am finding it quite difficult to differentiate between the characters’ ‘voices’ [or Woolf's voices], their thoughts and interactions with others (a group of six friends as they pass through life from childhood to old age, together and apart). the punctuation and paragraph structure is quite confusing, and i lose a sense of ‘place’ and narrative continuity, to the extent that i want to mark their passages with highlighter pens. it was never going to be easy…

perhaps this is an intentional paradox or conflict in the book, that true life never runs smooth, there are always situations and events, conversations or encounters, that will change things…