Friday, January 13, 2006

Reader's Diary #10- Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway (up to page 55)

This is the copy of Mrs. Dalloway that I have, so the page numbers I have listed in the banner match this book.

So far, there still isn't much happening with the plot. We're waiting for a party to begin and the most exciting thing that's happened is a visit from Clarissa's (Mrs. Dalloway's) ex, Peter Walsh.

While I can't say that such a scant plot has me enthralled, it isn't as boring as one might think. I think I have a better handle on this stream-of-consciousness style. Imagine that someone was able to record every single thought you had in a given day. Like Mrs. Dalloway (who was the only focus in these pages, unlike in the first 30) you would come across as flaky, serious, boring, exciting, manic, depressive, shallow, deep, lucid, incomprehensible and so on all in the run of a day. And it's this incredibly detailed insight into a person's psyche that could really impress upon a reader or bore him/her to tears. I'm somewhere in the middle. Quite like reading a daily-journal-entry-type blog, it has the appeal of being let into someone else's world and the realization that most thoughts are actually quite mundane. But what keeps Mrs. Dalloway from slipping into the back of your brain too much, is the occasional glimpse into her troubles and especially her desires.

While we note some turmoil between and within Clarissa and Peter, the most intriguing thing I found was the lesbian affection Clarissa feels for Sally Seton. I find this most interesting because the book was written in and set in the mid-1920s. I think more women had such feelings as these back then, but because of the times would never have talked about them, written about them, and maybe even acknowledged them within themselves. On this topic, the most thought- provoking piece I've read in Mrs. Dalloway so far is when she analyzes her feeling for Clarissa:
"It was not like one's feeling for a man. It was completely
and besides it had a quality which could only exist between

Taken out of context, one might assume Woolf is playing it safe by negating anyone's assumption that the attraction between Clarissa and Sally is anything more than platonic. But that would be ignoring the kiss between the two and Clarissa's obvious pleasure over that memory. So what did she mean by these lines? Especially, by the word choice, "disinterested"?



Stephen Eli Harris said...

You run a great Blog here. It's always interesting reading other peoples views on books.

I'd love to hear you comments on 'Ishmael', by Daniel Quinn. Have you read it yet?


John Mutford said...

No I haven't read or heard of Daniel Quinn and the only Ishmael I've heard of was in Moby Dick. However, I'm always open to book suggestions and would love it if more people suggested reading. I can't promise I'd get to everything but I'm open to almost any literature.