A handwritten journal page written in slanted purple ink, with two hole punches in the left margin.

To the Lighthouse holograph draft

Transcript below

Brandon Taylor: In a lot of ways, it is a novel about what an impossible project grief is, right? And how one never quite comes to terms with it, and it’s always that lighthouse that’s on the rocks getting battered that they never get to because it’s never fine enough, right? And there’s also that really beautiful section of the novel when after the war, they all go back, and the house is a mess, and they don’t have any more housekeepers or anything, and they’ve got to find the help to get the house good enough because they’ve come back and they want to have one more party. And it’s just so gutting because they’re also haunted by the good times that they’ve had that they’ll never be able to recapture.

Francesca Wade: Yeah, and I think she grapples with this in The Years as well. There’s the scene they’re at a party, or they’re at an air raid, and then there’s this sort of a giant gap and then things…the novel resumes, but it’s never quite the same. And I think, you know, Woolf with Mrs. Dalloway as well, she’s really finding a form to express both kind of inner lives and the kind of collective, especially the jolt of the war, how people reckon with that collectively and individually. 

Brandon Taylor: Yeah, and I think that in a lot of her work, what she’s grappling with also is this tension between experience and the narrative we make from experience and how sometimes narrative has to step aside to make room just for the feeling of being alive, that jolt of it.

Francesca Wade: Yeah, which I guess is like Lily Briscoe’s painting, which I think judging from the sort of description of it, it’s a kind of impressionist painting, and people like Charles Tansley, who both think that women can’t paint anyway but also doesn’t get that something could be an expression of something else if it’s not depicted in a straightforward realist manner, and she’s searching for that essence, just as Woolf is.

Brandon Taylor: The sort of limitation of Charles Tansley is one of my favorite parts of To the Lighthouse. One could write a whole novel about Charles Tansley’s inability to see the things around him. 

End of Transcript

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