Lantern Review: Issue 5
The Hybridity Issue
Gossip. Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf had to live with her good measure of gossip during her lifetime. It must have sickened her, made her ill enough to stay indoors where the sun wouldn’t get her. The book on Austen is becoming less like its title, “A Truth Universally Acknowledged”. Readers are charmed by the recurring themes in the novels, and readily submit to their elements, looking out for the moments that rear themselves as if not to delay gratification any longer. This seems like a surface reading, Gigi thinks to herself. She returns to the matter of gossip. “But the gossip says of Jane Austen that she was perpendicular, precise, and taciturn—‘a poker of whom everybody is afraid.’ Of this too there are traces; she could be merciless enough; she is one of the most consistent satirists in the whole of literature.” Gigi brings her mirror up to her face, with both hands, as if to ask it a question. Is she aging appropriately? Do the smile lines and bags under her eyes add more years to her age? If the neighbours talk of Gigi and her lover, what do they say in their dialects, and is the gossip accurate, more importantly, complimentary? “Life is its own satire,” Gigi says out loud, to no one beside her. She angles the mirror to catch a glimpse of the hair on the side of her head, and in it is reflected a picture of her in Sommerville. She is seated facing a busy street, and behind her is a baseball game. The park has high fences, and they are painted a metallic red.