Monday, August 03, 2015

Life in Squares and Forty Years On

I am trying to watch Life in Squares but am overpoweringly reminded of the parody of Bloomsbury in Alan Bennett's Forty Years On:
Of all the honours that fell upon Virginia's head, none, I think, pleased her more than the Evening Standard Award for the Tallest Woman Writer of 1927, an award she took by a neck from Elizabeth Bowen. 
And rightly, I think, for she was in a very real sense the tallest writer I have ever known. Which is not to say that her stories were tall. They were not. They were short. But she did stand head and shoulders above her contemporaries, and sometimes of course, much more so. Dylan Thomas for instance, a man of great literary stature, only came up to her waist. And sometimes not even to there. 
If I think of Virginia now it is as she was when I last saw her in the spring of 1938 outside the changing rooms in the London Library. There she stood, all flushed and hot after a hard day’s reading. Impulsively perhaps I went up to her and seized her hand. "It’s Mrs Woolf, isn’t it?" "Is it?" she said and looked at me out of those large limpid eyes. ‘Is it? I often wonder,’ and she wandered away.
Bennett says somewhere that this passage originally mentioned Cyril Connolly and was rewritten to feature Dylan Thomas instead when he complained. Connolly was disappointed. He wanted to stay in but be made taller.

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