THE LONDON SCENE by Virginia Woolf


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Five wee essays--totaling 44 pages--written in the early 1930s but not previously published in book form (except in a 1975 limited edition). ""The Docks of London"" takes in the ships going up-river, the garbage coming down-river, the cargos--ivory, wool, wine. (""Here side by side the objects of our worship lie swollen with sweet liquor. . . ."") There's a stroll down Oxford Street--where flimsy commerce is taking over from older values: ""If the moralist chooses to take his afternoon walk along this particular thoroughfare, he must tune his strain so that it receives into it some queer, incongruous voices."" Woolf looks in on the houses once occupied by the Carlyles and by Keats. (""If Keats left any impress . . . it is the impression not of fever, but of that clarity and dignity which come from order and self-control."") And there are brief glimpses of St. Paul's (""Effort and agony and ecstasy have no place in this majestic building""), Westminster Abbey (""worn, restless and animated""), and the House of Commons . . . in action: ""Dipping and rising, moving and settling, the Commons remind one of a flock of birds settling on a stretch of ploughed land."" Some remarkable passages, many undistinguished ones--but, in any case, the top contender so far for Christmas '82's most aristocratic literary stocking-stuffer.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Random House