Kamis, 14 Juni 2012

On Sylvia Townsend Warner and Virginia Woolf

Bea Howe (c.1925) by Duncan Grant

"What inspired and intrigued most about Sylvia was her way of talking.  I had never heard anybody speak like her before.  Some chance remark or an artfully-posed question by Tommy – who loved to argue with her – and Sylvia was off in a fantastic flight of her own.  Poetic words, colourful phrases, an apt quotation, extraordinary similes poured forth from her in a way I did not meet again till I came to know, and dine with, Virginia Woolf.  But where Sylvia kept her conversational flights of fancy more or less under control while the slightly malicious gleam in her eyes dared one to give her verbal battle, Virginia’s flights of pure fantasy, soaring sky-high, as the light in her beautiful deep-set luminous eyes kindled and grew almost wild, silenced one to listen to her, entranced." 

Bea Howe
PN Review 8:3 (1981)

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