Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Notes to Woolf the torero, or, on The Story about the Story

* Like this, from Virginia Woolf:
A writer will always be chary of dialogue because dialogue puts the most violent pressure upon the reader's attention.
Or this, from Sven Birkerts:
I believe that when we read a poem we absorb and process a great deal more than we are consciously aware of, and that it is precisely those cues that we pick up at the threshold--that we hear and feel but do not overtly take note of--that combine to give us the aesthetic surge.
Or this, from Randall Jarrell:
Miss Moore's forms have the lacy, mathematical extravagance of snowflakes, seem as arbitrary as the prohibitions in fairy tales; but they work as those work--disregard them and everything goes to pieces.
Or this, from E. B. White:
I think it is of some advantage to encounter [Walden] at a period in one's life when the normal anxieties and enthusiasms and rebellions of youth closely resemble those of Thoreau in that spring of 1845 when he borrowed an ax, went out to the woods, and began to whack down some trees for timber. Received at such a juncture, the book is like an invitation to life's dance, assuring the troubled recipient that no matter what befalls him in the way of success or failure he will always be welcome at the party--that the music is played for him, too, if he will but listen and move his feet.
And oh, how this note could go on . . .

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