The London Scene_ Virginia Woolf

2015 Oct. 11  67

The London Scene
picture from Daunt Books Publishing

The London Scene

Virginia Woolf

Daunt Books Publishing

「The Delightful thing about London was that it was always giving one something new to look at, something fresh to talk about.」

This is the first book I bought in London.

When I first came here, I was so eager to read something about this place; in fact, I still do right now. Not tourist guide, but stories about London. And then I found this, a tiny, but beautiful book by Virginia Woolf.

I have never read anything by her before, but I am really glad I start with this one.

This book is composed of 6 essays on London life, originally published during the 1930s. Virginia Woolf was born and raised in London. In these essays, she vividly depicted the scenery of the place and its citizens’ lives in her time.

Reading a text written such a long time ago can be difficult for EFL/ESL students, but please do not feel threatened, this one is not as hard as you think and it is a really interesting read!

One thing I love about this book is that even if it was written in the last century, somehow I can still see the London she saw. I didn’t mean that London remained the same in the past 80 years, what I want to tell you is how vibrant this city still is and how Londoners managed to live in harmony with history and technology.

Anyway, I do recommend this book to those who just moved to this city. Reading this book allows you to picture what the locals’ lives were like in the past. Also, comparing what has changed and what has not is always a fun thing to do!


p.6 Drawn by some irresistible current, they come from the storms and clams of the sea, its silence and loneliness to their allotted anchorage.

p.7 Can it be possible that there is earth, that there once were fields and crops beneath this desolation and disorder? Trees and fields seem to survive incongruously like a sample of another civilisation among the wallpaper factories and soap factories that have stamped out old lawns and terraces.

p.14 The only thing, one comes to feel, that can change the routine of the docks is a change in ourselves.

p.19 And those who buy and those who sell have suffered the same city change. Tripping, mincing, in black coats, in satin dresses, the human form has adapted itself no less than the animal product.

p.21 The charm of modern London is that it is not built to last; it is built to pass.

p.37 All the traffic of life is silenced. The voice of the house is the voice of leaves brushing in the wind; of branches stirring in the garden.

p.38 Life goes on outside the window.

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