novelist. For imaginative prose of this kind there ought to be 
another name, since it is a thing different from the novel, verging at 
its most exalted moments on poetry. The average novel-reader, 
mainly interested in ‘story’ and characterization, will probably judge 
the first section of To the Lighthouse, where Mrs. Ramsay is alive, 
the most successful. After her death the book becomes more 
lyrical in intonation; the second section, in particular, is a rhapsody 
where ten years pass away in a kind of incantation, broken by rather 
abrupt snapping of threads in parenthesis. Yet the whole, with 
its greater emotional concentration, its sharper focussing, the 
fuller stature of its characters, and the completer resolution of 
its material into a meditation in images, or symbols—compare the 
section describing the dinner here with Mrs. Dalloway’s party—
shows the mark at which, with ever increasing power and sureness, 
Mrs. Woolf is aiming. Her mastery increases with each book,
but, I fear, it will always fall short of her vision. Poetry alone could 
give us that: in prose we shall have to be content with the ‘matches 
struck unexpectedly in the dark’. On this score she may possibly 
suffer with posterity, who may desire another brand of match: but 
in her own day she lights a purer and more searching flame than 
most, by which we recognize that, whatever science applied to 
existence may achieve, only imagination illumines life.