My favorite of the essays assigned for this week’s reading was “Walter Sickert: A Conversation.” The first line that hauled me in was “how statues and mosaics removed from their old stations and confined to the insides of churches and private houses lose the qualities proper to them in the open air” (187). This reminds me of Michelangelo’s David which was once displayed outside in the Piazza della Signoria but is now enclosed in a building (on the other side of Florence). The statue can still entice strong emotions to the surface, but how beautiful he would be outside with the sun shining on his marbled physique. It took me longer to read this essay because of the visuals that kept coming from the essay made me scribble little drawings in the margins where I usually make notes. Also, the essay encouraged me to investigate his paintings, so Google again comes to the rescue. I wanted to see how Sickert’s paintings made him “among the best of biographers” (191). He does indeed capture more of the person’s personality in his paintings; all sterility is erased. Whereas Woolf’s writings create a picture, his paintings create a story. She comments that he’s a realist and prefers to paint the lower middle-class. I’m not sure what the time frame is between this essay and whether or not Sickert painted his Camden Nudes all at once or just later made a collection of them, but they consisted of mostly prostitutes with some being very derogatory to women in my estimation which makes her statement on page 196 “he never sinks below a certain level in the social scale” a bit – hmmm, what word am I looking for?—ironic or just not fully informed? Whatever the case may be, I loved that I got to know a new artist.
I feel “The Death of the Moth” and “Evening Over Sussex: Reflections in a Motor Car” were both about death. The poor moth struggled to get out of the boundaries set for it and couldn’t succeed so it dies. I believe with “Evening over Sussex” that Woolf is comparing the sunset to aging or fading beauty, but it also looks forward to the future, because the star represents the future. She disassembles into four different selves to contemplate the sunset: 1. “eager and dissatisfied,” 2. “stern and philosophical” (1), 3. simple pleasure, and 4. the ADD self. I found the ADD self a bit hilarious: “a self which lies in ambush, apparently dormant, and jumps upon one unawares” (2). It reminded me of the t-shirt, “They don’t know, I don’t have A….OH, look a bunny!”
“Craftsmanship” was rather crafty. I loved the play on words, but could have gone without the imagery of the chicken with its head cut off. It appears that words like her novels and stories can have different interpretations. She comments that words are not useful because they can be interpreted different ways; however, some have come up with signs. One, two, or three gables for good places to stay; stars to denote a good painting, “So with a handful of stars and daggers the whole art criticism, the whole literary criticism could be reduced to the size of a sixpenny bit (2). Her wit shone through when she inferred that the English language was a bit of a naughty girl by having “gone a-roving” with several other different languages. I think the basis of this essay was to demonstrate the flux of words, or how they can change and signify different things for the variety of people.
One last comment about Sickert: did you know that Patricia Cornwell wrote a book claiming that Sickert was Jack the Ripper?
Woolf, Virginia. "Craftsmanship." eBooks@Adelaide. 26 July 2010. Web. 27 October 2010.
---. "Death of the Moth." eBooks@Adelaide. 26 July 2010. Web. 27 October 2010.
---. "Evening Over Sussex: Reflections in a Motor Car." eBooks@Adelaide. 26 July 2010. Web. 27 October 2010.
---. "Walter Sickert: A Conversation." The Captain's Death Bed. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1950. Print.