Habits of MindHumanities

Listen and Learn

By April 9, 2015 No Comments

I like how blogger Maria Popova  (Brain Pickings) gathers up the debris of literature and history and delivers up perfect little gems like the one about Virginia Woolf reading from an essay titled “Craftsmanship” in 1937.  It is the only recording I have ever heard of Woolf’s voice, and I have been completely transfixed by it, playing and replaying it whenever I open my laptop.

Virginia Woolf is my patron saint. I have written more papers on her work than I should admit, since none are published or noteworthy. Her books, essays and miscellany line several shelves in my house and whenever I hear church bells toll the hours, I think immediately and only of Clarissa Dalloway. Whenever I see a lighthouse, I think of Mrs. Ramsay. Whenever I think of stones or pockets, I think of Virginia, wading out into the river.

Before listening to this recording, I had only ever heard Virginia Woolf speak through ink and paper. Hearing her voice was definitely unsettling to me, at first. But I’m getting used to how she sounds, and can finally actually listen to what she was saying, is saying still. Things like,  “a word is not a single and separate entity, but part of other words. It is not a word indeed until it is part of a sentence. Words belong to each other.”

As each of us.



Jessica is a doctoral candidate, education consultant, writer and editor. She is the founder of bookclique, a collaborative of English teachers and students working to promote book culture, and a co-founder of Well-Schooled, the site for educator storytelling, dedicated to sharing first-person educator stories. All Rights Reserved - What I Learned Today in School.