He preferred the more oblong shapes of books on literary criticism, belles lettres. To become a man of letters, he would make special to himself one smallish aspect of literature, read all the books about it, add another of his own. Anything later encroaching on his territory, he would himself review.
'The novel is practically finished as an art form,' he replied.
'I suppose it is,' said Harriet.
'Virginia Woolf has brought it to the edge of ruin.'
'Yes,' said Harriet.
'But it was inevitable,' he added, laying no blame.
'I suppose it was,' Harriet said, in a slow, considering way.
The novel - headstrong parvenu - seemed headed for destruction. No one could stay its downward course and, obviously, it did not deserve that Vesey should try. Virginia Woolf with one graceful touch after another (the latest was Mrs Dalloway) was sending it trundling downhill. She had been doing this unbeknown to Harriet who had never even heard of her.
Sometimes you just don't want a book to end. I am slowly savouring this quiet and exasperating dance between the two main characters, Harriet and Vesey. I love it when a literary discussion pinpoints the essentials of personality (later on another character is reading Persuasion to great effect). If it uses Woolf to do so, even better.