Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction”

“Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible? We are not pleading merely for courage and sincerity; we are suggesting that the proper stuff of fiction is a little other than custom would have us believe it.”

Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction,” from The Common Reader, p. 150

Notes: narrative perception, purpose of the author, purpose of fiction, reality vs. fiction, purpose of art, perception of time, historical context

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