When Karen and Simon started off their new reading “club”, encouraging people to read books published in 1930 this time, I had a good old trawl through my TBR, hoping I’d find something. 1929, yes, but I drew a blank for 1930. Oh well, I thought, never mind, you can’t do everything. Then Karen reviewed Virginia Woolf’s “On Being Ill” and mentioned she’d got hold of an electronic copy. I had bus journeys into and back from town coming up and I had a look and found an electronic copy of the essay for 50p, downloaded it and happily read it on those journeys!

I’m not going to include this in my journal of books read, as it really is one essay, albeit a VW essay, which is always going to be A Good Thing, but I was very pleased to be able to join lots of illustrious readers and bloggers in the week!

Virginia Woolf – “On Being Ill”

(ebook, 15 October 2019)

Now, the first thing that Woolf says is that being ill isn’t written about properly in literature. That’s the basis of the whole essay, really, although she does go off on extended riffs about all sorts of things. I found this a bit peculiar, though, as I recalled Beth’s decline in “Little Women”, Katy’s long illness after her fall in “What Katy Did” and Colin’s dreary unwellness in “A Secret Garden”. But maybe illness doesn’t figure that much realistically in adult fiction.

I loved Woolf’s cry that

The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry. There is nothing ready made for him. He is forced to coin words himself.

She does acknowledge that the Americans are better at changing the language than us, so might be able to help. This was so funny and wry and classic Woolf. I’m not sure that I, as she claims, could really fancy Shakespeare to read if I was very poorly, though.

A good read, very Woolfian and an essay of hers which I’d not read before! Result. And I get to Join In. Thank you for the inspiration, Karen!

I’m currently reading “The Gender Agenda” by James Millar and Ros Ball, which was the oldest NetGalley book on my Kindle and so got opened when I was feeling I ought to be virtuous. I thought it was going to be a dry academic tome, but no, it’s their diary on raising their two children while making themselves aware of their, the kids’ and other people’s comments and assumptions about gender, feeding off Marianne Grabrucker’s “There’s A Good Girl” which is her diary with her daughter, which I have loved and read multiple times. So I’m racing through that and cursing my past self who left it until now!