Thursday, July 27, 2017

Night and Day

I’ve read other work of Virginia Woolf before, so I knew I had to expect a quiet contemplative novel, which focuses more on the emotional state of its characters instead of upon acts happening to, through or because of them.

Night and Day delivered what was to be expected.

I got to meet Katherine Hilbery, a young, beautiful, but serious young lady who is occupied with finishing a novel about her grandfather while secretly wishing to spend more time to unladylike mathematics. Ralph Denham is also instantly introduced as he is oddly at home at Mrs Hilbery’s table, where Katherine tries to make him feel at home. She doesn’t succeed, because Ralph detects that she is just playing the good host, without much feeling. When she gives him a tour of the relics left behind by her grandfather, a famous poet, he can’t help from antagonizing her and they part feeling slightly blighted and confused.

Next William Rodney and Mary Datchett enter the stage. William, an inspiring poet and play wright, who is very fond of Katherine. Mary Datchett, a self-sufficient woman, trying to come to terms with loving Ralph and not being sure if her love is returned by him. Ralph seems to be a very good friend to her, as he is found to ask her opinion on various subjects.
Katherine is being introduced to Mary at one of William’s parties. They feel a connection, even it they don’t exactly like each other. Mary feels daunted at first at the elegance and quiet fortitude that Katherine exudes, but tables turn when Katherine lets loose on her emotions.

There are a few small roles handed out for Katherine’s mother and father, her niece Cassandra, in the extent to help Katherine understand something about life and love and to set a genuine scenery in which she does this inner contemplation.

When the novel starts out, Katherine is a fairly closed off young woman, going through life thinking she isn’t one to feel much, as she lives her life very practical. When William asks her to marry her, her life changes instantly, because she needs to confess to herself what she is feeling. Drawing the wrong conclusions, the most part of this novel is spend to setting there faults right. As I told already, Virginia Woolf is very good at analyzing and dissecting a very peculiar situation of an engagement between two people who don’t love each other in a time when these sort of arrangements weren’t lightly broken. She dwells more in the inner sanctum than out, which makes this a typical Victorian novel in my opinion, where not even a kiss is shared, but we get to know the characters on a much deeper level, a more profound one, albeit harder to interpret.

Reading this novel was hard work, but I liked it. The ornamental language is unique in these novels, that I’m bound to slowly paint a picture of the scenery, the characters and their struggles, which even happening more than a hundred years ago, don’t differ much from what is still going on right now. Overthinking things is still a hot topic.