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You mention a "Swan"; do you have Michael Swan's "Practical English Usage"? If so, check out section 74. He notes that in unreal comparisons "were" can be used instead of "was" and, in fact, that "was" is commoner in informal styles.

Sorry, your reply is not on my server, only at Google, thus I must reply kind of out-of-thread (to myself:-))
You're right about that section in Swan. I found it after my original posting.
Just to clarify, I don't think I have difficulties with "were" used for present time .
My question on "were" was if it's being used for past time also, say in:
I was feeling sick yesterday, as if the ship were turning, even though I knew it was stationary.
and Donna confirmed that in her postings.
However, my main question (I'd appreciate if you could again check my original posting) was mostly about the use of past perfect (constructions with "had") in unreal past time situations and to which extent that might apply to the quote from Woolf. Pls check Swan section 260-4 on that. You wouldn't find anything in section 74.

Most of the replies I've got are re "were". Sorry for perhaps not having been clear enough in my emphasis.
Thank you,
Marius Hancu