I always judged books by their covers, since, in my uneducated family, I did not developed any other reference points. I began to read Brodsky because of the paintings by Pierro Della Francesca (which were on his books covers), William Blake because of his watercolours and Oscar Wilde because of Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations.
Once, I saw a portrait of Virginia Woolf and couldn’t get my eyes away from her unearthly beauty. I still like to contemplate her fragile and melancholy face. Instantly I fell in love with the thought of her writings, but disappointingly my first encounter with them in Russian fell short of my affections. I don’t know if the problem was translation or my coarseness, but a decade ago I decided her books were “too tedious and complicated” and never returned to her.
Since then, while self-studying English I’ve copiously read English language literature. Most recently readings included “Essayism”, a book by Brian Dillon. The author studies an essay by Virginia Woolf “The Death of the Moth”, which I immediately read. Now, as if stopped in my tracks I needed more, reading essay after essay until I’d completed her entire collection. To name a few I read “The Death of the Moth and Other Essays”, followed by the collections of essays “The Common Reader”, “The London Scene”, “Granite and Rainbow” and “Books and Portraits".
And of course, I read the feminist classics - “A Room of One's Own” and “Three Guineas”. The essay “On Being Ill” was also very relevant for me this winter.
Then I got into fiction and I read “The Waves”, “To the Lighthouse”, “Jacob's Room”, “Mrs. Dalloway” and “Orlando: A Biography”. Now I’ve switched to autobiographical works - “Moments of Being” and “A Writer’s Diary”. On some depressing winter days, I read so much that my eyes started to hurt.
So it was, as I believed, love at first sight. Within that cover these books have everything I adore: London, the sea and Cornwall, issues of gender and identity, the existential crisis, the fear of death and endless beauty. So now, I want to take a walk along the route of Mrs. Dalloway in London and watch the waves at St. Ives. The splashing of waves on sand and the light that drive artists to this coast. So while I suffer from my unfulfilled hopes, I trust my dreams, will one day soon, come true.