Welcome to my blog Upstate Girl, (a.k.a Follow Your Bliss Part II), I am an independently published author. This blog is all about writing and the stuff that inspires me to write, the joys and obstacles that come along with the writer's life, and my fascination with the psychology of people and what makes them tick...the human condition, as is...and my love for words, playing with them and making sense of them...and I throw in a few photos from my acre of the world just to make things pretty...sometimes there are things I have no words for, only pictures will do.

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© Laura J. Wellner), unless otherwise noted, please be a peach, if you'd like to use my work for a project or you just love it and must have it, message me and we'll work out the details...it's simple...JUST ASK, please.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Melymbrosia by Virginia Woolf

Jeepers, I wish my first drafts of a novel turned out this good. Granted, it is rough—raw in places, and there are things that develop in later drafts that grow from knowledge and time, and so The Voyage Out grew from Melymbrosia as it should have. I can see why VW’s male friends cringed and insisted that she tone it down. (Here is where I must remind readers that it is a book of their time, not ours.) I read it from my size 6 ½’s in the 21st century and thought, “Really? That’s pretty tame.” Maybe because I’m so cynical at this point in my life, I’m just numb to it all—who knows. Whatever. It’s been a long time since I read The Voyage Out so I had to dig out my copy and poke through it while I wrote this bit and admired it for what it is, fleshed out to a density that was typical of her early novels. I noted that Hewet never had his revelation of “dreams and realities” until The Voyage Out—it’s the same musing that Ralph Denham had about Katharine Hilbery in Night and Day (the original title was Dreams and Realities.) So it is interesting to see the overlapping of themes between the two novels—how often do we imagine a person being a certain way, thinking certain thoughts, creating a mold and filling the qualities of our dreams into it, and then when faced with the real person the mold is shattered completely and we feel certain that they do not love us in the same way as we love them.

The title Melymbrosia is a mystery, apparently, VW never gave an explanation for it—Louise DeSalvo speculates in her introduction (which you must read after reading the book) that perhaps it is a combination of the Greek words for honey and ambrosia, but I wonder if it is instead, melancholy and ambrosia—a strange combination—sadness, gloominess, miserable moodiness, delicious, delightful, intoxicating loveliness—the beauty and the terror, the sublime. In my opinion, it is sort of in the vein of the sublime as in “the beauty and the terror”. It’s a Victorian aesthetic that creeps into British writing ever since the Romantic era. Mr. Dalloway suggested that Rachel should read Burke, tho’ he mused over the more political books about the French and the American Revolutions, but I thought Burke’s book, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) was more appropriate for this journey. " WHATEVER is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. I say the strongest emotion, because I am satisfied the ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure. Without all doubt, the torments which we may be made to suffer are much greater in their effect on the body and mind, than any pleasure which the most learned voluptuary could suggest, or than the liveliest imagination, and the most sound and exquisitely sensible body, could enjoy. " Burke believed that the sublime—such as vastness, infinity, magnificence of a stormy ocean or an unexplored landscape—has the power to destroy, it was something that could incite terror, and yet, “pleasure” enters into this intense emotion, as in a sense of being “ravished”, the passion of fear (especially the fear of death.) It is a complex human experience—ambiguous in its nature. The tension between representation (imagination) and concepts (reason); the waffling of harmony and disharmony, pleasure and displeasure, anguish and joy—there and back again—all very human feelings. Virginia Woolf knows the language of the sublime, and perhaps she felt it much too keenly—when writers write, their emotional spigots are on full blast, it’s exhausting to say the least, rummaging around within the inner depths and dragging out a treasure of words—

“—while the gulls are squawking above, the sea is running round the world, and the plants are opening on earth? I live, I die; the sea comes over me; it’s the blue that lasts.” – page 42


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