The Reading Life Virginia Woolf Project
"Monday or Tuesday" is not a traditional short story at all. It in fact is not clearly even a story and might be better called a prose poem or word collage. The work begins with a heron flying over a church. We see the country side from the point of view of the soaring heron. In the second paragraph we descend to the world of the streets of London:
Desiring truth, awaiting it, laboriously distilling a few words, for ever desiring —(a cry starts to the left, another to the right. Wheels strike divergently. Omnibuses conglomerate in conflict)— for ever desiring —(the clock asseverates with twelve distinct strokes that it is midday; light sheds gold scales; children swarm)— for ever desiring truth. Red is the dome; coins hang on the trees; smoke trails from the chimneys; bark, shout, cry “Iron for sale”— and truth?There is a lot to ponder here in these marvelous images. First I am pushed to wonder who or what is "desiring truth"? Why do coins hang from the tree? Is "Monday or Tuesday" sort of a prose version of William Blake's "London"? There is also the contrast of natural images in movement like the flying heron and the loud jarring sounds of the omnibuses as they travel about London. Trees do not have leaves or flowers but coins. I wondered if there is a play on the two meanings of "omnibus" (below is from Google Dictionary lookup
- A volume containing several novels or other items previously published separately
- an omnibus of her first trilogy
- A bus
Both meanings fit the context.
Maybe "Monday or Tuesday" does not need to be given an overly left brain reading. The images are beautiful and I suspect with the proper speaker it would be a wonderful listen. Maybe Woolf was just having some fun.
I read this in the collection A Haunted House and Other Stories as edited and republished by Leonard Woolf in 1941 from the 1921 original. It was the only collection of short stories published during Virginia Woolf's life.