The pleasures of rereading

My year with Virginia Woolf imply rereading. Quite a lot of it. It is such a pleasure! And there is so much new to focus on, even in the texts I thought I knew fairly well. There is no doubt that my own situation in life influence my way of reading & understanding.

Today I went back to The Lighthouse. This is how it opens:

The Window

“Yes, of course, if it’s fine tomorrow,” said Mrs Ramsay. “But you’ll have to be up with the lark,” she added.

To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as if it were settled, the expedition were bound to take place, and the wonder to which he had looked forward, for years and years it seemed, was, after a night’s darkness and a day’s sail, within touch. Since he belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand, since to such people even in earliest childhood any turn in the wheel of sensation has the power to crystallise and transfix the moment upon which its gloom or radiance rests, …

“But,” said his father, stopping in front of the drawing-room window, “it won’t be fine.”

Had there been an axe handy, a poker, or any weapon that would have gashed a hole in his father’s breast and killed him, there and then, James would have seized it.

I love how she introduces James: Since he belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand, … Isn’t this just a great psychological observation?! And isn’t it also very interesting to se how carefully and serious she presents the personality of a child.

But what actually surprised me the most today, was how easy it is, at 45, to identify with Mrs. Ramsay. I never did that before … last time I read this book (20 years ago or so) I saw Mrs. Ramsay as a mother-figure, also to me – the reader, today it felt almost like her thoughts were mine …

… rather shocking …