Tuesday, 14 April 2009
A Dialogue Upon Mount Pentelicus 1906
This story was possibly written in the Autumn of 1906 following a holiday to Greece. Virginia Woolf’s journal from the time notes that along with her sister and brothers, she climbed Mount Pentelicus and also that they encountered some monks.
I found this story more difficult to read, partly I think, because I have not really studied any Greek history or mythology. It is however, a very amusing sketch of the British abroad:
“To address them in their own tongue as Plato would have spoken it had Plato learned Greek at Harrow.” (p64)
It reminds me a little of E. M. Forsters A Room With a View, particularly with the reference to Baedeker.
The story begins as a group of “tourists” are descending Mount Pentelicus, although the narrator states that the group of people would not refer to themselves as tourists. The group pauses for a rest under the shade of some trees and the narrator describes the Greek guides resting in the sun. A debate then begins between the English about what Greece is today but are interrupted by the appearance of a monk.
Virginia Woolf comments on the difficulty in capturing a true account of the dialogue of the debate on paper so she instead records fragments of what is said and fills the reader in on the rest of the conversation. This is similar to the approach in The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn, where the essence of the conversation is given rather than a complete dialogue. The appearance of the monk interrupts the debate and the group moves on in their descent of the mountain. The pieces finishes in a very domestic way
“The talk was of supper and a bed.” (p68)
I’m not really sure what I think about this piece yet so I think I may come back to it at a later date to have another look at it.