A literary breakup

Dear Virginia Woolf,

It’s been a long haul this semester.  We’ve been through a lot together, you and I.  But I think it’s time that we go our separate ways.  It’s not you.  It’s me.  Okay, that’s not true.  It’s totally you.  I think it’s time we break up.

Our first meeting, way back in my Brit Lit II survey course, went exceptionally well.  You sure do know how to make a good first impression.  Thus, I was optimistic.  But then our relationship turned out to be rockier than I expected.  Your short fiction had me stumbling about like a silly lady trying to figure out what was going on.  But I attributed that to your innovativeness, and that I just had to get used to it.  Then there was Jacob’s Room.  Ugh.

It wasn’t all thistles and thorns, though.  We had some good times, Virginia.  We really did.  We were reading Mrs. Dalloway on February 14th and you were my Valentine.  That book took my breath away.  It had me singing stupid love songs, declaring my passion to the skies.

But then To the Lighthouse happened over Spring Break.  Although I appreciated what you were doing there, Virginia, it was a bit of a slog to get through.  I ended up writing my fourteen page final essay on that book.  Mr. Ramsay is a piece of work, so props to you for creating a character that made me feel like I was suffocating while reading his thoughts.  All in all, your rendering of visual perception is fascinating, but kind of took away my will to live.  (In a scholarly sense, that is.)

For a while, Virginia, I thought there was no hope.  I thought we were doomed to fail, you and I.  But then Orlando came along.  I sat there thinking, “I didn’t know Woolf could be funny!”  And you were!  You were downright hilarious!  If you could go back, I encourage you to do more work like Orlando.  It’ll bring more joy to the world.

Ultimately, though, you slaughtered me with The Waves.  What on earth were you thinking?  Why was that a good idea?  I didn’t understand a single bit of it.  And oh my goodness, my professor’s lectures on it only made it worse.  Was it your goal to make a book that’s absolutely impossible to comprehend?  Because if so, you definitely succeeded.  What is the price of your success?  My happiness.  My hope.  My joy.  My dreams.  My will to continue our relationship.  You sacrificed those things by choosing to write The Waves.

So, Virginia, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.  And, frankly, I think it’s time we take a break from each other.  Some time and distance will help strengthen our relationship.  You wrote some things that were pretty miserable to read, and I don’t know if I’m ready to forgive you yet.  Don’t worry, though, we’ll get there.  I still remember the way my heart raced as Mrs. Dalloway exclaimed “What a lark!  What a plunge!”  There is good to be found, Virginia.  So take heart.  I’ll be seeing you eventually.  Until then… I think I’ll spend next semester hanging out with the Victorians.  Charles Dickens and I have some catching up to do.

Happy summer,

Amelia

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