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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Reader's Diary #13- Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway (FINISHED)


I'm done. And it was okay. It's not the glowing review that I'm sure many English profs would give it, but it's going to have to suffice.

I won't dwell any further on stream-of-consciousness. In fact, if I ever mention it again in a posting, would Mr. Blogspot please be so kind as to show me the door?

At the end of this book, I have a theory. But going along with that theory, I have to question why Woolf chose Mrs. Dalloway as the title character and not Peter. I saw Clarissa Dalloway as being on one end of an unhappiness spectrum, with Septimus on the other, and Peter finding his place in between. Clarissa's unhappiness seemed to stem from dwelling on trivial things (such as parties with her elite friends) while Septimus' unhappiness seemed to stem from dwelling on global, intangible things (such as human nature). Peter walked back and forth between the two, trying to find happiness, leaving him a fragment of a man (represented quite nicely with his constant fiddling with his pocketknife- Freud anyone?). It is only at the end that he thinks he has found the answer through a conversation with Sally. Basically, he seems to resolve the question of how to find happiness- not through thinking at all (whether trivial or global) but by following his heart.

I've never heard anyone debate whether or not Mrs. Dalloway has a happy ending or not, but I'd have to say not. While it looks like Peter has found his answer, I'd have to say it was rubbish. Following his heart would have led him to Clarissa and almost certain heartbreak. Furthermore, if the adage were applied to Clarissa, she would have been led into the arms of Sally (and most likely heartbreak too, unless you feel a lesbian couple could have found happiness in 1920s England. Do you?) And applying the adage to Septimus wouldn't even make sense.

So all in all, I somewhat enjoyed a pessimistic book with nary a plot to be found.

(Incidentally, what do you think was represented by Peter constant fooling with his pocketknife?)