This short discourse on our fragmented and multiplicitous selves struck me, and their resemblance to plates piled on a waiter’s hand conveys something of the precarious state they can create in the single person accommodating them all.  Later on, Orlando manages to integrate her many selves and derives much greater resilience in dealing with buffeting forces and influences.

‘… these selves of which we are built up, one on top of another, as plates are piled on a waiter’s hand, have attachments elsewhere, sympathies, little constitutions and rights of their own…’

Source: Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, ed. with an introduction by Rachel Bowlby (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1992), p. 294

Photo credit: Hans at


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