by thecustomhouse

I could quote the whole essay and be as struck by every paragraph.  In this one, Virginia Woolf describes, so effortlessly, why some novels strike us with the force of all we know of life… their integrity.

“What one means by integrity, in the case of the novelist, is the conviction that he gives one that this is the truth.  Yes, one feels, I should never have thought that this could be so; I have never known people behaving like that.  But you have convinced me that so it is, so it happens.  One holds every phrase, every scene to the light as one reads–for Nature seems, very oddly, to have provided us with an inner light by which to judge the novelist’s integrity or disintegrity.  Or perhaps it is rather that Nature, in her most irrational mood, has traced in invisible ink on the walls of the mind a premonition which these great artists confirm; a sketch which only needs to be held to the fire of genius to become visible.”

-Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own