by Virginia Woolf
Orlando Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Soon he had covered ten pages and more with poetry. He was fluent, evidently, but he was abstract. Vice, Crime, Misery were the personages of his drama; there were Kings and Queens of impossible territories; horrid plots confounded them; noble sentiments suffused them; there was never a word said as he himself would have said it, but all was turned with a fluency and sweetness which, considering his age--he was not yet seventeen--and that the sixteenth century had still some years of its course to run, were remarkable enough. (1.3)
Judging from this passage, young Orlando is a good writer but not a great one – his writing definitely sounds formulaic and unoriginal.
But there, sitting at the servant's dinner table with a tankard beside him and paper in front of him, sat a rather fat, shabby man, whose ruff was a thought dirty, and whose clothes were of hodden brown. He held a pen in his hand, but he was not writing. He seemed in the act of rolling some thought up and down, to and fro in his mind till it gathered shape or momentum to his liking. His eyes, globed and clouded like some green stone of curious texture, were fixed. He did not see Orlando. For all his hurry, Orlando stopped dead. Was this a poet? Was he writing poetry? 'Tell me', he wanted to say, 'everything in the whole world'--for he had the wildest, most absurd, extravagant ideas about poets and poetry--but how speak to a man who does not see you? Who sees ogres, satyrs, perhaps the depths of the sea instead? (1.9)
Despite the man’s physical appearance, Orlando is entranced by the poet's intellectual capabilities. This is the first of many instances that we see Orlando fascinated by the writing process and those who undergo it– only to be shocked by the actual physical appearance of the writer himself.
All he could say, he concluded, banging his fist upon the table, was that the art of poetry was dead in England.
How that could be with Shakespeare, Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Browne, Donne, all now writing or just having written, Orlando, reeling off the names of his favourite heroes, could not think.
Greene laughed sardonically. Shakespeare, he admitted, had written some scenes that were well enough; but he had taken them chiefly from Marlowe. Marlowe was a likely boy, but what could you say of a lad who died before he was thirty? As for Browne, he was for writing poetry in prose, and people soon got tired of such conceits as that. Donne was a mountebank who wrapped up his lack of meaning in hard words. The gulls were taken in; but the style would be out of fashion twelve months hence. As for Ben Jonson--Ben Jonson was a friend of his and he never spoke ill of his friends. (2.18 – 2.21)
Greene is best as a critic of others. This tirade further reflects his rather dour and pessimistic personality.