Virginia Woolf’s Moments of Being

Ground breaking author Virginia Woolf is certainly one of the most respected writers of the twentieth century and any current writer, whether mainstream or cutting edge, can improve their work by learning something about her unique abilities. What was at the heart of Woolf’s unusual approach to writing? She once said, “I have some restless searcher in me,” indicating that a process of discovery was the basis of her life and work. For what was she searching?

Young Virginia Woolf, 1902

Woolf believed even trivial incidents can have intense emotional significance. She treasured certain moody moments of being and used them to great effect in her work. (Image: public domain)

We find the answer in Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out. Her young impressionable protagonist, Rachel Vinrace, takes ship for South America on a vessel owned by her father. During the voyage, her interaction with an odd assortment of passengers radically broadens her horizons. She has come from a secluded life in a London suburb, but exposure to challenging intellectual discourse and stimulating new ideas starts a process of rapid growth. She quickly transcends the limitations of her stuffy upbringing. She has begun an exciting psychological voyage of self-discovery.

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