Orlando reveals his bias towards the 18th (or against the 19th) century by noting the turn of the century as having been marked by a change in climate.  Damp invades everything, releasing a kind of fetid fecundity in all things, with ivy taking over buildings, ornamentation running amock; even seeping into inkpots and pumping verbosity into writing.

‘… there is no stopping damp; it gets into the inkpot as it gets into the woodwork – sentences swelled, adjectives multiplied, lyrics became epics, and little trifles that had been essays a column long were now encyclopaedias in ten or twenty volumes.’

This even extends to commenting on Victorian literature where you either go for the full sixty-volume magnum opus, or slash and burn to a paragraph’s worth.  Orlando, or his maker, choose the latter.

‘And now it is clear that there are only two ways of coming to a conclusion upon Victorian literature – one is to write it out in sixty volumes octavo, the other is to squeeze it into six lines of the length of this one.  Of the two courses, economy, since time runs short, leads us to choose the second; and so we proceed.’

Source: Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, ed. with an introduction by Rachel Bowlby (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1992), p. p. 219 and p. 277

Photo credit: Bara Cross at unsplash.com


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