Orlo Williams. The Monthly Criterion: A Literary Review. Vol. 6, No. 1, July 1927, 

To The Lighthouse. By Virginia Woolf. (Hogarth Press.) 7s. 6d.

Mrs. Woolf is not an inventive writer: but then—what time or 
need has she for inventing, when she cannot overtake all that she 
sees and feels and observes that other people see and feel? Miss 
Lily Briscoe, in this last novel, as she is painting in the garden at 
Skye where, ten years before, Mrs. Ramsay, her dead friend, made 
part of the picture, sitting in the window with her youngest boy 
upon her knee, becomes the vehicle of a rêverie upon which all 
Mrs. Woolf’s novels are simply variations.
‘She must rest for a moment. And, resting, looking from one 
to the other vaguely, the old question which traversed the sky of the 
soul perpetually, the vast, the general question which was apt to 
particularise itself at such moments as these, when she released 
faculties that had been on the strain, stood over her, paused over 
her, darkened over her. What is the meaning of life? That was 
all—a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with 
years. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there 
were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly 
in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other; herself and 
Charles Tansley and the breaking wave; Mrs. Ramsay bringing 
them together; Mrs. Ramsay saying “Life stand still here”; Mrs. 
Ramsay making of the moment something permanent (as in another 
sphere Lily herself tried to make of the moment something permanent)
—this was of the nature of a revelation. In the midst 
of chaos there was shape; this eternal passing and flowing (she looked 
at the clouds going and the leaves shaking) was struck into stability. 
Life stand still here, Mrs. Ramsay said.’
And, in the last lines of the book, ‘Yes, she thought, laying 
down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.’
These passages—one could find many others akin to them—
supply a perfect text for a survey, more exhaustive than space here 
allows me, of all Mrs. Woolf’s novels. They reveal, in a way that 
makes commentary superfluous, the nature of her inspiration, and 
they explain the recurrence of certain preoccupations, even of 
certain typical characters and details, in her work. If you read the 
five novels consecutively, this recurrence is very striking. The 
Voyage Out is nothing but a tentative piecing together of the riddles 
of life, in which, through inexperience, Mrs. Woolf used far too