Thursday, 9 April 2009

Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

I thought I was going to dislike Woolf, I am not sure why. I think it's because I've only met one because who didn't scowl whilst mentioning her name. But now I realized that's a really stupid thing to base a prejudice on, and I'm never doing that again.

The whole novel discusses simply one day, presenting a slice of life, as it were. The most interesting thing about it is how V. Woolf manages to enter someone's mind, so the reader gets to hear their thoughts, then exits it and enters someone else's mind just as easily, so that you have to be completely focused who is thinking what exactly, because she doesn't actually straight out tell you. I do like that, though. Because otherwise it would have been one boring story, it barely has any actual active plot.~

Ever read the poem "The Road Not Taken"? It's exactly that. Clarissa Dalloway gets up on the day she is going to hold a party, and on the first page she already has flashes of memory of herself more than thirty years ago, before she married Richard Dalloway. When a man called Peter Walsh was in love with her. When she had had a choice between two lives: Marrying Peter, living a life full of passion, emotion, love, yet financial insecurity, or marrying Richard, and at least knowing she would have both status and wealth, if not love. She ends up choosing "China and silver" above love, but throughout the book she keeps trying to convince herself she made the correct choice, which means she is not really convinced, to begin with.

The other main character in the book is Septimus Warren Smith, a soldier suffering from "Shell shock", from the war. Traumatised, and knowing not what to do or how to cure it. Neither his wife nor the physicians actually /listen/ to him, or give him the chance to say what is on his mind. He and his wife are happy enough together, though, and they plan to run away from "humanity", as it were, but it catches up with him, and out of sheer panic he throws himself out of the window. (One of the ways Woolf herself had tried to commit suicide)

What is striking is that Septimus and Clarissa never actually meet. Clarissa hears about his death at the end of the day at her party, and she defines it as something beautiful. A good way to go, to die when one is most happy.

It made me think even more about my "roads". Which ones I can take, and what I'll have to sacrifice to get through them. It's pretty deep stuff, really. But it was very familiar in that way.
I liked it.

The Gypsy.

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