I was reading over my breakfast this morning as my television has yet again gone off station (the TV man is coming later today to hopefully fix it).
I read Virginia Woolf's 'The Docks of London' from her little book 'the London scene'. Shortish, very much to the point, without a spare word (as is most of her writing) and so full of description. It is a beautiful essay.
And it did strike me about comparison with a painting of the London Docks and how much more I would learn from the essay and what a picture I could paint in my imagination from her words.
Here's an example. She is walking along the docks, watching the men unload 'working with the utmost organisation'. One stops to speak to her and tells her some of the things they have found in sacks of cinnamon - a snake, a scorpion, a piece of amber, a diseased elephant's tooth.
And so the essay goes on in the same vein. By the end we have built up an incredible picture of the life on the docks - the men who work there, the ships that come in and out each day - far more than we could ever do from a painting.
So I ask you - which would you prefer - a painting of the docks on your wall so that you could look at it, imagine the life there, speculate on what is going on. Or an essay spelling out in detail for your imagination to work on.
Can you compare? Obviously there is room for both. Perhaps it is just a case of personal preference.