Virginia Woolf's Comments on To the Lighthouse

Updated July 8, 1997
Created July 8, 1997

"Father’s birthday.  He would have been 96, 96, yes, today; and could have 
been 96, like other people one has known; but mercifully was not.  His 
life would have entirely ended mine.  What would have happened?  No 
writing, no books—inconceivable.  I used to think of him and mother daily; 
but writing the Lighthouse laid them in my mind.  And now he comes back 
sometimes, but differently.  (I believe this to be true—that I was 
obsessed by them both, unhealthily; and writing of them was a necessary 
act). . . ." (A Writer's Diary for 28 November 1928)

"Until I was in the forties—I could settle the date by seeing when I wrote 
To the Lighthouse, but am too casual here to bother to do it—the presence 
of my mother obsessed me.  I could hear her voice, see her, imagine what 
she would do or say as I went about my day’s doings.  She was one of the 
invisible presences who after all play so important a part in every 
life. . . .  
	Then one day walking round Tavistock Square I made up, as I 
sometimes make up my books, To the Lighthouse, in a great, apparently 
involuntary, rush.  One thing burst into another. . . .  I wrote the book 
very quickly; and when it was written, I ceased to be obsessed by my 
mother.  I no longer hear her voice; I do not see her.
	I suppose that I did for myself what psycho-analysts do for their 
patients.  I expressed some very long felt and deeply felt emotion.  And 
in expressing it I explained it and then laid it to rest.  But what is 
the meaning of ‘explained’ it?" (from Moments of Being, "Sketch," 80-81; 
Woolf was 45 when she began writing To the Lighthouse in 1925)

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