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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Reader's Diary #11- Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway (up to p.110)


I'm not having an easy time with this book. I'm just past the halfway mark and I don't know yet if I like it or not. To be perfectly honest, I'm not even sure if I understand it or not.

There still isn't a plot. I've had this problem with books before (mainly anything by Alice Munro) but I'm not as disappointed by this fact as I thought I'd be. There's still a lot in this book that I've found to think about- even if I am on the wrong track according to the scholars. Am I?

Since my last posting, Peter has taken the stage more and we get to see Clarissa from his vantage point. His image of Clarissa doesn't quite meld with the image of her that I had after reading through her thoughts and point of view. He paints a more callous, judgmental side that I didn't pick up on through her own eyes. But maybe he can present us with a side of Mrs. Dalloway that she either didn't know herself or at least wouldn't acknowledge. It made me question the "truth" about our own identities. No doubt those around us have a version of us stored within them that isn't a mirror image of whom we think we are. But to them, their version isn't any less real. So is it possible that we don't own our identities? Maybe our true self is some collective average? I'd think harder about this existential crap if it wasn't such a complete waste of time.

I found Peter's view of England interesting too. He's just having returned from India after a five year absence and is enthralled and impressed (with some exceptions) with the grandeur of London and the seemingly new openness to a more liberal atmosphere. I wonder if he's seeing his country through rose-coloured glasses because he had missed it so much, or if there actually was such a great change (after all the first World War ended), or if it's a little from column A and a little from column B (to quote Abe Simpson). What do you think?

Peter's view is interesting especially when compared to Septimus' view. Septimus is also newly returned home, but unlike Peter has become disillusioned by his time away. Septimus had gone to fight in the War to get experience in life, and like many others before and after him, was all but destroyed mentally by the horrors. Now he has become almost completely ambivalent and detached from mankind and has gone nuts (despite the diagnosis from a see-no-crazy doctor named Dr. Holmes).

Ah well. If it gives me food for thought, I guess the book has some value for me.

And I apologize for today's cliche-ridden, politically incorrect termed, posting. It'll probably happen again.

1 comment:

Scotty said...

An identity is a way in which one defines the self. It is all the trivia and assorted facts that one collects over a lifetime that makes us unique. It is the one thing that is ours alone.

Yet, your identity is also how others come to know you. As a person gets closer to you, the more they learn all the assorted facts and trivia. They learn of your uniqueness and begin to share in it. As this happens, your uniqueness begins to belong less to yourself and more to others.

In short, to maintain your identity, shun others, isolate yourself and identify alone.

Did any of this make sense or am I just over tired right now?