The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf (1917)
Tuesday’s Tale May 15, 2018 Reading Fiction Blog.
NATIONAL SHORT STORY MONTH, May 2018. Week Three.
READING FICTION BLOG
“The tree outside the window taps very gently on the pane…. I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle. I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard separate facts.”
‘Sink deeper and deeper. ‘ We can do that with our author for this week of National Short Story Month with Virginia Woolf’s story The Mark on the Wall. We don’t generally think of Woolf when we think of suspenseful storytelling, but we do think human drama, stream of consciousness, symbolism, and keen interior monologue. Come along with me into Woolf’s world of the interior mind as our nameless character considers an odd mark on the wall. She turns inward in this narrative and focuses on the psychological. So many impressions emerge as she muses what the mark is and what has caused it. Mysterious? Yes. Captivating? For sure.
Expect no complex plot. This is a wandering story more about the nature of life than just some obscure flaw that has curiously appeared suddenly on the wall. Her reflections on this mark sustain the reader to explore phantoms in our own daily lives and in our own minds. Woolf is the master in the art of stream of consciousness writing (her greatest legacy to writers). In this story you can fall under Woolf’s spell into her flowing thoughts.
I read this story twice to get the fullest impact and it is an experience in itself. But I found listening to the audio to totally sweep me away.
“I shall never forget the day I wrote The Mark on the Wall—all in a flash, as if flying.” Virginia Woolf [Source: Nicolson, Letters, 4:231]
Read The Mark on the Wall at Bartleby.com:
Listen to the Audio on Librivox, YouTube:
Virginia Woolf wrote modernist classics including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and feminist works, A Room of One’s Own. She suffered bouts of deep depression, ending her own life in 1941 at the age of 59.
If you are a writer, you might like this short video (4 minutes) about Virginia Woolf’s writing at Open.edu.youtube:
Next week, watch for another short fiction to read for
National Short Story Month!
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