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by Virginia Woolf

Orlando Memory and the Past Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #4

'So, my dear Lord,' he continued, settling himself comfortably in his chair and rubbing the wine-glass between his fingers, 'we must make the best of it, cherish the past and honour those writers--there are still a few of 'em--who take antiquity for their model and write, not for pay but for Glawr.' (2.19)

As we’ll later see, three centuries later Nick Greene retains his love for past literature. His obsession with the past adds comic effect to the story.

Quote #5

It is, indeed, highly unfortunate, and much to be regretted that at this stage of Orlando's career, when he played a most important part in the public life of his country, we have least information to go upon. […] But the revolution which broke out during his period of office, and the fire which followed, have so damaged or destroyed all those papers from which any trustworthy record could be drawn, that what we can give is lamentably incomplete. […] We have done our best to piece out a meagre summary from the charred fragments that remain; but often it has been necessary to speculate, to surmise, and even to use the imagination. (3.1)

When have you seen a biographer ready to resort to the imagination when there are no historical documents to use? The biographer is mocking the conventional biographers who piece together their narratives from past documents.

Quote #6

The form of it, by the hazard of fancy, recalled that earliest, most persistent memory--the man with the big forehead in Twitchett's sitting-room, the man who sat writing, or rather looking, but certainly not at her, for he never seemed to see her poised there in all her finery, lovely boy though she must have been, she could not deny it--and whenever she thought of him, the thought spread round it, like the risen moon on turbulent waters, a sheet of silver calm. Now her hand went to her bosom (the other was still in the Captain's keeping), where the pages of her poem were hidden safe. (4.16)

The mere memory of the shabby poet in Twitchett’s sitting room is inspiring to Orlando.

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