Apparently, the weekly serialization of Thomas Hardy’s novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge began on January 2, 1885. The date of this event is unimportant; what caught my eye was the fact that Virginia Woolf visited Hardy in 1926, one and a half years before his death, and she took this very novel with her to read on the train. Unable to put the book down, she told him about her appreciation for his novel. He, on the other hand, seemed unable to talk positively about her writing. She had just finished the draft of To the lighthouse. He was holding on to the past in his Wessex-based stories, while she was pushing forward with all her might. Hardy emphasized the importance of stories having a beginning, a middle, and an end, and remarked scathingly on the fact that “a story can come to an end with a woman leaving the room”.
It warms my heart to know that two of my literary idols met this way, and that Virginia Woolf appreciated Hardy’s prose.
It is no coincidence that Hardy and Woolf represent what I hold most dear in literature. Over the years I’ve become increasingly aware of the importance of roots, or the lack thereof. At the same time, I am fascinated by progress. I’ve embarked on a parallel search for my past and my future and who could depict these extremes within me better, than Hardy and Woolf…
It is also not surprising that lately I’ve been drawn to the tree of life symbol, especially its representations where the roots and the foliage are equal. Because I’m not sure what’s more important… I used to think that the past wasn’t. I think I was very wrong. I think that without a profound understanding of where we come from, and where we’re going, there can be no peace in the present.
(I borrowed the picture from this website, where you can purchase the artist’s print: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/tree-of-life-renee-womack.html)