A journey backwards, through love, art, pain, illness and passion. Abandoning oneself. Abandoning. Deciding to say enough, without succeeding in conceiving the separation as an act of absolute will, but as a suffered liberation, both for oneself and for others. Removing the imaginary restraints of something that piercingly, lovingly and violently, oppresses.
Adeline Virginia Woolf, known as Virginia, the writer, essayist and British activist, died in the English village of Rodmell in Sussex on the 28th of March 1941. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered under two elm trees in the garden of Monk’s House.
Depressive crises, violent and persistent. Kept at bay by the company of others. Reawakened in solitude. And in that inner self, so private and closed where even the person who is closest can find no space or any way. Anxiety states, sudden mood changes. Intermittent light; perverse and violent darkness. The continuing war, then, the last straw, the insuperable limit, the final chapter. The full stop.
The touching note to her husband, heartfelt and holding back the tears, says:
« Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V. »
Total blackout. Final. The stop from which there is no going back.
London is celebrating her, remembering her and paying homage to the weaver of novels like Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928). While from her essays emerge The Common Reader (1925) and A Room of One’s Own (1929).
Letters, manuscripts, diaries, paintings and photographs recount her life, its torments and battles. The turning point.
The National Portrait Gallery (npg.org.uk) in London has inaugurated the exhibition “Virginia Woolf. Art, Life and Vision”, which will be open until the 26th of October 2014. The exhibition pays particular attention to linking her portrait photographs to events in her life, also in order to give them a quality that is extremely imaginative. Evocative. To enclose in your eyes. And with your eyes.
The exhibition is curated by Frances Spalding.