"Nothing has really happened until it has been described" Virginia Woolf
Dans les rues de Londres is a track # 3 from Mylène Farmer’s sixth studio album, Avant que l’ombre… released on 4 April 2005.
Doesn’t the final scene of the film “The hours” remind you of the clip Ainsi soit Je…? I wonder if it was an influence all along?
Such a strange connection to all things Mylene, such a magical circle…
The lyrics to Dans les rues de Londres were written by Mylène Farmer.
For the whole text of this song, Mylène could have been inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, the novel by Virginia Woolf published in 1925 which describes the journey of an elegant woman in the streets of London, her encounters and her reflections on life, love and death. Reference also to the life of the author and her tragic destiny since she ended her life by drowning herself in the river.
Possible influence from Etty Hillesum’s diary, An Interrupted Life
which is written: “You are trying to reduce life to a few formulas, but it is impossible, it is infinitely nuanced, perhaps neither enclosed nor simplified.” while Mylène writes for her part: “Reduce life to … / Uncertain formulas / It’s quite impossible, she / You see, is infinitely nuanced”.
It’s not the first time Mylene finds Etty Hillesum inspiring – many texts we can recognize being influenced but this author. To name a few: Tous ces combats and L’amour n’est rien
We also find in this novel formulations similar to those used by Mylène: “I put my life back to later” (“I put my life back to … / A later” for Mylène), “I simply have to be, to live, to try to reach a certain humanity. ” (“To simply live / Attempt to reach a humanity),” you must conquer small scraps of earth
The poem Derrière la gare by Pierre Reverdy (1917) has the line: “In my head there is a crazy world” where Mylène writes:
“Coule dans ma tête
Un monde fou qui veut naître”
Another reference with the poem Histoires from the collection Sources du vent (1929) in which we can read: “A letter written backwards / The hand that passes over your head / And the hour / Where we get up morning … “when Mylène sings:
“C’est comme une lettre
Qui c’était écrite à l’envers..”
Avant que l’ombre a Bercy (2006)
The song was performed live in 2006 Bercy concert. And what a beautiful performance was that! The song followed sing-along of XXL. and before California. The arrangements are tasteful and make the melody shine like a precious stone framed by a skillful master. Intro is very ethnic almost Buddhistic and transitions into a familiar version very naturally. In short, a beautiful piece and I would love to see it again in NEVERMORE 2023. How about you?
Adeline Virginia Stephen was born into a privileged family on January 25th 1882 to free-thinking parents and spent her childhood surrounded by her parent’s well connected, artistic and literary friends. She began writing from a young age, although her early career was curtailed by serious bouts of depression.
In 1912 she fell in love with and married Leonard Woolf. Together they became part of the literary Bloomsbury Group as well as establishing their own printing press. “Hogarth Press”, which published their own work, also published the work of famous authors such as T.S Eliot, Catherine Mansfield and Sigmund Freud.
Despite achieving literary success, depression always loomed at the edges of Virginia’s life. In 1941, as WWII raged, she began to sink into a deep despair about the state of the world. Unable to cope, she eventually committed suicide by filling her coat pockets with rocks and walking into the River Ouse.
Although she tragically cut her life short, Virginia Woolf‘s legacy lived on. Her popularity waned after the second world war, but her work found a new audience in the 1970s thanks to the feminist movement. Today, she remains one of the most influential authors of the 21st Century.
Amongst many literally achievements, Virginia Woolf is also well known for unconventional romance with Vita Sackville-West.
Their romance was portrait in the film release in 2018 called “Vita and Virginia”
Their uncommon bond began in December of 1922, when Virginia was forty and her first literary success, Mrs. Dalloway, was still three years ahead. Four days after their first meeting, Virginia invited Vita to a small dinner party. Vita reported to her husband — the diplomat Harold Nicolson, also queer — in a letter from December 19, 1922:
“I simply adore Virginia Woolf, and so would you. You would fall quite flat before her charm and personality… Mrs. Woolf is so simple: she does give the impression of something big. She is utterly unaffected: there are no outward adornments — she dresses quite atrociously. At first you think she is plain, then a sort of spiritual beauty imposes itself on you, and you find a fascination in watching her. She was smarter last night, that is to say, the woolen orange stockings were replaced by yellow silk ones, but she still wore the pumps. She is both detached and human, silent till she wants to say something, and then says it supremely well.”
After remarking that Woolf was “quite old” — she was forty — Vita adds with a sort of wistful giddiness:
“I’ve rarely taken such a fancy to anyone, and I think she likes me. At least, she asked me to Richmond where she lives. Darling, I have quite lost my heart.”
Over the coming weeks, a good five years before she professed being “reduced to a thing that wants Virginia,” Vita lost her heart completely and the intimacy between the two women magnetized them closer and closer. She writes in a diary entry from the following February:
“Dined with Virginia at Richmond. She is as delicious as ever. How right she is when she says that love makes anyone a bore, but the excitement of life lies in “the little moves” nearer to people. But perhaps she feels this because she is an experimentalist in humanity, and has no Grande passion in her life.”
A month later, Vita confides in her diary again:
“Lunch with Virginia in Tavistock Square, where she has just arrived. The first time that I have been alone with her for long. Went on to see Mama, my head swimming with Virginia.”
Vita was too well aware of the delicacy of Virginia’s mind and body to press her strongly, and their friendship developed affectionately, starting with the small tenderness by the fireside. (Vita liked to sit on the floor by Virginia’s chair) that gradually, so gradually, led to something a little more.
But that something was no little by any measure — for any love at all is no small matter, but especially one of such magnitude. Vita became Virginia’s lover and muse, and went on to inspire her groundbreaking 1928 novel Orlando, which revolutionized the politics of LGBT love and which became the longest and most charming love letter in literature, in which Virginia explores Vita, weaves her in and out of the centuries, tosses her from one sex to the other, plays with her, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, teases her, flirts with her, drops a veil of mist around her, and ends by photographing her in the mud at Long Barn, with dogs, awaiting Virginia’s arrival the next day.
So let’s meet the Muse (who ironically had a nickname of “Vita” short of Victoria and also Life in Italian). Vita Sackville-West, was known for her good looks. An enigmatic, sensual and mysterious woman. She did not hide her taste for women from anyone, she had made more than one of her previous romances public. Virginia was much more conservative and traditional.
Their differences quickly became the gasoline that kept the fire between the two alive. Vita calmed Virginia’s demons, and Virginia kept Vita’s gentler side afloat. Together they managed to understand each other’s innermost thoughts and Vita became the medicine Virginia needed to improve her health.
The American historian Louise de Salvo, assured that “Neither of them had written as much or as well as when they were together, and after their separation, neither of them managed to do so again.”
Although Virginia had always been under psychiatric treatment for her nervous breakdowns, Vita suggested a different therapy: start experimenting with enjoyable activities instead of plunging into the chaos of her mind. This is how Virginia became increasingly fruitful as a writer, focusing her energies on being Vita’s company and translating her feelings into lyrics. She produced three novels and a large number of essays, a record for her career.
Vita was known for her volatility and even her promiscuity. Virginia gave her everything she needed: a stable, passionate and unconditional love. Vita put aside the “wild” aspect of her personality and became the loving and stable emotional home that Virginia needed. Together they greatly improved their quality of life. They made a perfect match, as they turned out to be a half that the other needed.
For the first time, Virginia was able to experience physical love.
Virginia had a dark past. Her stepbrother Georges Duckworth had abused her (and her sister), most of her childhood. The experience was so traumatic for her that she forever rejected any kind of expression of physical love. They were painful, frightening, and “unleashed Victorian ghosts,” as she used to call them.
Vita was the only one capable of making her externalize that trauma from the past and with love and dedication, she helped her heal it. She understood each of her limits and at the exact moment that Virginia was ready, both of them consummated their love.
On one occasion – while Vita was visiting her husband – Virginia wrote to her: “Look, Vita. Leave your man and together we’ll go to Hampton court. We will have dinner on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight. We will go home together, have a bottle of wine and I will tell you all the things that I have in my head.
All of them are millions. But they will not go out during the day, only at night, by the dark river. Think about it, leave your man and come with me”.
Their relationship was extremely passionate. Both represented a home for the other. A refuge from the world. An oasis of passion, love and understanding that they soon became addicted to.
The love between writers did also gave birth to extraordinary love letters.
From Sackville-West to Woolf
Milan [posted in Trieste]
Thursday, January 21, 1926
I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this—But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defenses. And I don’t really resent it …
Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.
From Woolf to Sackville-West
52 Tavistock Square
Tuesday, January 26, 1926
Your letter from Trieste came this morning—But why do you think I don’t feel, or that I make phrases? ‘Lovely phrases’ you say which rob things of reality. Just the opposite. Always, always, always I try to say what I feel. Will you then believe that after you went last Tuesday—exactly a week ago—out I went into the slums of Bloomsbury, to find a barrel organ. But it did not make me cheerful … And ever since, nothing important has happened—Somehow its dull and damp. I have been dull; I have missed you. I do miss you. I shall miss you. And if you don’t believe it, you’re a longeared owl and ass. Lovely phrases? …
But of course (to return to your letter) I always knew about your standoffishness. Only I said to myself, I insist upon kindness. With this aim in view, I came to Long Barn. Open the top button of your jersey and you will see, nestling inside, a lively squirrel with the most inquisitive habits, but a dear creature all the same—
Both shared a passion for literature, but from very different perspectives. Vita used to enjoy writing poetry, Virginia was more of an essayist and literary. They spent a decade together, but their relationship was mostly long-distance. Since they both had a family life, they had to fulfill their obligations as mothers and wives, but they never stopped writing. The letters kept their love alive and intact.
As everything under the Sun, the passionate love, intense and fleeting, came to an end at some point
“My darling, let me write you one more line: you have given me too much happiness, ” Virginia wrote to Vita on one occasion. Both made the most of their 10 years of relationship, but there came a time when the differences weighed more.
Virginia was older and had deep-rooted social and political ideals. Vita used to be more liberal and give less importance to politics. Her life consisted of devoting his entire attention to love, art and any form of expression. Little by little, their differences were separating them until in 1935 it was finally over.
They’ve remained very close friends, but their love past was far behind. “What more can I say? I love you, ” Virginia wrote. “My love for you is absolutely true, vivid, and unchanging,” Vita replied. And so, one of the most passionate romances in the history of literature ended.
Photos taken by a fan – thanks! April 30, 2016
at Oxford Street, London
Mylène is accompanied by photographer and a friend Nathalie Delépine.
Mylène is wearing a grey Vedax blazer with rhinestone skull on the back and python effect detail under the collar from Zadig and Voltaire’s spring/summer 2014 collection (price 450 euros).
One cold March morning of 1941 Woolf put on her fur coat and Wellington boots, exited the front gate, and made her way to the River Ouse next to their house. When Leonard went upstairs to check on her a couple of hours later, he found two suicide notes in the place of his wife. One was addressed to him, and the other to her sister, Vanessa.
Virginia Woolf’s suicide note to her husband read, “Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it: If anybody could have saved me, it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness… I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”
Frantic upon reading Virginia Woolf’s suicide note, Leonard Woolf searched nearby for her. He soon found her footprints and walking stick on the riverbank, but the water had already swept her body away. It would be found three weeks later, washed up near Southease, England.
When Virginia Woolf’s death was announced, T.S. Eliot wrote that it was “the end of a world.”
Following Virginia Woolf’s death, she was cremated and her ashes were sprinkled beneath the two Elm trees, nicknamed “Virginia” and “Leonard,” in the couple’s backyard. Leonard had a stone engraved with the last lines from her novel The Waves: “Against you I fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death! The waves broke on the shore.”
She left a novel and autobiography unfinished. Virginia Woolf’s suicide note would be her final piece of writing.
Woolf’s name and memory, however, have lived on. Her novels have become beloved classics, while her essays have turned her into a modern feminist icon. She was even immortalized in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours by Michael Cunningham, with Nicole Kidman playing her in the film adaptation.
Furthermore, Virginia Woolf’s death also inspired a team of researchers to work on creating an app that could predict a person’s suicidal tendencies based on their writing.
By studying Woolf’s diary, which she kept throughout her lifetime, as well as her personal letters, the team hopes to create software that can analyze texts, emails, and social media posts of at-risk patients. When the app identifies a negative change in the writing of the patient, it will automatically alert a caregiver in time to intervene.
In this way, Virginia Woolf has left behind a legacy that is much larger than her life or death. As she once wrote, “When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?”
Once again, Mylene has created an unforgettable legacy of Virginia Woolf in her song as she did for so many others extraordinary people. To name a few: to Edgar Allan Poe in Allan, Greta Garbo in Greta
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lyrics with translation
Réduire la vie à... Des formules indécises C'est bien impossible, elle Tu vois, se nuance à l'infini C'est comme une lettre Qui c'était écrite à l'envers... Coule dans ma tête Un monde fou qui veut naître Mais tu sais, son âme est belle Dans les rues de Londres J'ai puisé plus de lumières Qu'il n'en faut pour voir... Dieu a des projets pour elle Et les rues de Londres Souffleront sur des mystères D'une autre fois... Virginia Je remets ma vie à... Un plus tard abandonné Pour simplement vivre Tenter d'a...tteindre une humanité Des lambeaux de terre Me regardaient disparaître Et parmi les pierres Je vivais et j'espérais, tu sais... Mais tu sais, son âme est belle Dans les rues de Londres J'ai puisé plus de lumières Qu'il n'en faut pour voir... Dieu a des projets pour elle Et les rues de Londres Souffleront sur des mystères D'une autre fois... Pas cette fois...
Reduce life to ...
It is quite impossible, she
You see, nuances to infinity
It's like a letter
Which was written backwards ...
Flows through my head
A crazy world that wants to be born
But you know her soul is beautiful
In the streets of London
I drew more lights
What it takes to see ...
God has plans for her
And the streets of London
Will blow on mysteries
Another time ...
I surrender my life to ...
One later abandoned
To just live
Trying to ... reach out to humanity
Scraps of earth
Watched me disappear
And among the stones
I was living and hoping, you know ...
But you know her soul is beautiful
In the streets of London
I drew more lights
What it takes to see ...
God has plans for her
And the streets of London
Will blow on mysteries
Another time ...
Not this time...