Monday, January 25, 2010

Short Story Monday/A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf

You may visit John for more short stories this Monday.

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On Virginia Woolf's birthday, I've chosen a short story from the collection called Monday or Tuesday, published in 1921. I don't own this book but found all the stories online here.

It seems that death is always somewhere lurking in the works of Virginia Woolf. She has such an awareness of time passing, life changing, and then the final alteration. I suspect this is true of many of us who have lost a parent at a young age. While those with parents still alive have a buffer between them and death, we who are orphans early on have an acute awareness that death can come at any time. We learn to live with it sitting beside us.

When I finished reading A Haunted House, my heart felt full and there were tears in my eyes. It reminded me a little bit of Emily in Our Town, the play by Thornton Wilder. After she dies, she gets to spend an ordinary day back among the living, observing the details of daily life we often don't notice.

In A Haunted House, a dead couple comes back to the house where they were happy.

Wandering through the house, opening the windows, whispering not to wake us, the ghostly couple seek their joy.
“Here we slept,” she says. And he adds, “Kisses without number.” “Waking in the morning—” “Silver between the trees—” “Upstairs—” “In the garden—” “When summer came—” “In winter snowtime—”

This is not a scary haunted house story. It is warm and moving and I thought, wonderful.

19 comments:

  1. Nan,
    I would really enjoy reading this book, if only to be reminded that life is a gift to be savoured and cherished as it goes by so quickly! There are so many *little* blessings in each new day!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Joanne

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  2. Joanne, this is just one short story in the collection. It is very short and takes just a little time to read.

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  3. Virginia will always be my favourite.
    Happy Birthday to her.

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  4. It pleases me that you took the time to read it, Missi. I just loved it.

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  5. Nan, really nice review. I haven't read Woolf in a really long time so I look forward to reading this story.

    I read "Ghosts" for my short story, the one John reviewed last week:

    http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2010/01/ghosts-by-edwidge-danicat.html

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  6. What a lovely story! Thanks for posting the link... perfect for Virginia Woolf's birthday.

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  7. What a beautiful story, I didn't know that site thank you so much for posting it. I have read none of her short stories, I love her novels and return again and again to her wonderful prose, it is unique in its delicacy I think.
    Yes indeed, so many of us are orphans now. On a lighter note, do you remember the film,'When Harry mat Sally'? At the beginning Harry says he always reads the last page of a book first, in case he dies before he finishes it. Very funny, but poignant too, we don't know do we?
    Carole

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  8. Teddy Rose, I'll be over tomorrow to read it! This VW story is wonderful.

    JoAnn, I'm so glad you read it.

    Carole, I was thinking about you this morning! So pleased you wrote. I love your words. 'delicacy' is perfect.

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  9. This does sound wonderful! I'm going to bookmark it so that I can read it when I will not be interrupted!!

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  10. I'm going to read this one after I leave your blog. I love stories that make my heart feel full too. I'm loving these short stories. Thanks.

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  11. Staci and Margot, I was so pleased to find her stories online.

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  12. And so you've given me reason for my post today - with thanks to you. :)

    Absolutely lovely story...

    Coincidentally, my wife works for Dover Publications who publishes a thrift edition of this collection...

    Just may be able to get my hands on a couple of copies... :)

    - Jeff

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  13. Jeff, I'll be over to read it. What a good job she has!

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  14. Thanks for the link. I've read a lot of Virginia Woolf, but not her short stories. I can't wait to read them!

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  15. For my senior thesis years and years ago, I did a study of VW and this story and To The Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway all on memories and what's remembered etc. Remember reading it a million times and liking it a good deal. I am amazed I never realized her birthday was the same day as my mother's (and Mr. Burns, of course).

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  16. Susan, I can't think of a better thesis - to be able to spend all that time with VW. The two books you mentioned are my favorites with Mrs. D first.

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