Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Death of the Moth and Other Essays

by Virginia Woolf

I was lying on the floor, nominally exercising but really just taking time off from gravity, when I noticed a small piece of fuzz on the carpet.  Pinching it between forefinger and thumb, I realized it was a small moth crushed now in my fingers, as soft as lint.  Oh yuck, I thought, and good riddance too, darned thing and its cousins probably feasting on my winter wool wardrobe.

Virginia Woolf, however, has more moth compassion in her four page essay than I've mustered in a lifetime.  "The possibilities of pleasure seemed that morning so enormous and so various that to have only a moth's part in life...appeared a hard fate, and his zest in enjoying his meagre opportunities to the full, pathetic."  She stuck with Moth-Guy to his end, musing over life force and death. And that is why I loll on floors and she authors books.

Best essay of all in this book was "Street Haunting" wherein an early evening walk in winter through London streets "gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow.  We are no longer quite ourselves."  She proceeds on a 14 page meditative journey through the streets and shops of central London.

The bulk of the book's entries are literary criticism for which I have no background to appreciate.  But the first five essays are definite jewels.

No comments:

Post a Comment