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Quotes

Quote #4

For some seconds the light went on becoming brighter and brighter, and she saw everything more and more clearly and the clock ticked louder and louder until there was a terrific explosion right in her ear. Orlando leapt as if she had been violently struck on the head. Ten times she was struck. In fact it was ten o'clock in the morning. It was the eleventh of October. It was 1928. It was the present moment. (6.55)

Orlando is recalled to the present moment by incredibly violent means. Like most of us, she usually spends time thinking about the past or the future and getting absorbed in her surroundings. Woolf uses stream of consciousness to take a simple action such as Orlando looking out a window to bring out a torrent of thoughts and musings about Orlando’s complex past.

Quote #5

No one need wonder that Orlando started, pressed her hand to her heart, and turned pale. For what more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment? That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side and the future on another. (6.56)

The past and future both allow us to anchor ourselves when we must confront the alienation and isolation of the present moment.

Quote #6

The true length of a person's life, whatever the "Dictionary of National Biography" may say, is always a matter of dispute. For it is a difficult business--this time-keeping. (6.67)

This supports the idea that time is subjective. It’s the qualitative experience of time, Woolf argues, rather than the quantitative one, that matters. For example, a week spent in Hawaii with your best friends is quite a different experience than a week spent studying for the SAT.

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