TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
Woolf’s novel is a drowsy read compared to the high stakes action found in today’s genre fiction. Yet, I’d pit her characters against the wickedest villain and the most courageous heroine without hesitation.
Although I’ve never fired a gun, I have no doubt about my own ability to kill an attacker that threatened either myself, or someone I loved. This is bravery. But it is brought on by external forces, which automatically triggers our fight or flight reflexes. I don’t wish to take anything away from such heroes, but it is a different kind of brave than the bravery found in To The Lighthouse.
The characters that populate Woolf’s novel discover their courage moment to moment as they face their darkest fears. From their incompetence in offering sympathy to their inability to accept beauty, they blatantly acknowledge their weaknesses. The inner strength required for such honesty is doubled by their willingness to endure the most uncomfortable situation, and by doing so, discover a better part of themselves.
To The Lighthouse is filled with extraordinary human beings who struggle with personal turmoil and triumph through simple perseverance. In my mind braver souls can not be found. If you are a writer and wish to master the complexity of simplicity, read Virginia Woolf. Awesome.