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Mrs. Dalloway
by Virginia Woolf

Synopsis:
Direct and vivid in its telling of the details of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, the novel manages ultimately to deliver much more. It is the feelings that loom behind those daily events--the social alliances, the shopkeeper's exchange, the fact of death--that give Mrs. Dalloway texture and richness.
 

Topic: 
       APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (5 of 7), Read 35 times 
  Conf: 
       CLASSICS CORNER 
 From: 
       Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) 
  Date: 
       Friday, March 17, 2000 01:12 PM 


Having just picked up my Mrs.Dalloway yesterday (?) -- seems longer
ago already! -- I am ready with it and The Hours at hand and am at
the present three-fourths of the way through the Hermione Lee
biography of Woolf as well. I am looking forward to this duo as much
as I was to the combo discussion of this month!

I'll crack Mrs. Dalloway Tuesday at the earliest probably but then I will
be off and reading.

Dottie
ID is an oxymoron!


Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (6 of 7), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Monday, March 20, 2000 06:13 AM I started Mrs. Dalloway this week-end as well and read a few pages of The Hours just to get a feel of it. I think I'm really going to like this duo. I find myself reading many of the sentences in Dalloway 3 or 4 times to try to get all of the meaning, but, each time I do it, it's worth it. Barb
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (7 of 7), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, March 20, 2000 11:43 AM Yeah, you're right, Barb. It's read, reread, and reread when it comes to Virginia Woolf. I even purchased an old used copy of Mrs. Dalloway and am hi-liting hell out of it to get the characters sorted. Sara pointed out an audio presentation concerning Virginia Woolf available on the front page of The New York Times book section: http://www.nytimes.com/books/home/ I have not had time to listen to it yet, but one of the participants is Cynthia Ozick, a writer I am anxious for you to become acquainted with. Steve
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (8 of 8), Read 10 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, March 20, 2000 12:15 PM A follow up on that audio site. It is nicely set up in the sense that one can pick and chose among the presentations. Michael Cunningham, the author of The Hours, does a relatively light weight presentation concerning Mrs. Dalloway. Steve
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (9 of 9), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Monday, March 20, 2000 09:10 PM I couldn't get through to the ny times site tonight, Steve. I got a server error message, but will try it later. Is Cynthia Ozick primarily a writer of essays? If so, I've been interested in her for a while. The mental health site does look harrowing. I think sometimes that Woolf attracts a certain kind of cult follower who loves all of that personal angst...exactly the kind of person that I imagine she would disdain. However, I've never read any of the biographical books about her so what do I know?. Barb
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (10 of 11), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2000 12:53 AM I've read VW's collected letters and found them very interesting, in fact, much more interesting than her novels. I think I've read her diaries, too, but I'd have to check my bookshelves. Ruth, planning to give Mrs. Dalloway a reread
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (11 of 11), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2000 08:09 AM Really, Barb, I did not expect you to drop everything and run over to that Times site immediately. There's plenty of time. And good thing, too, because I have occasionally encountered problems with that server. As for Cynthia Ozick, she writes novels, short stories, and essays. I nominated one of her short stories over in that conference for a read, and it is coming up in a while. Steve
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (12 of 12), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2000 05:17 PM Ozick is wonderful, Barb. I've read her book THE PUTTERMESSER PAPERS, which has the story Steve nominated. She's very funny, but also poignant --my favorite combination. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (13 of 18), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, March 30, 2000 12:55 PM I just finished Mrs. Dalloway and I am stunned and mesmerized by this novel. How could I have gone this long without savoring the prose and insight within this seemingly tiny little book? I thank the person who nominated this novel and especially thank the people who voted for it this year. I am going back to page one to re-read the work. Amazing piece of literature, really. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (14 of 18), Read 36 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Thursday, March 30, 2000 12:58 PM I finished it a few days ago, too. I loved it. I can understand your wanting to reread it right away. Sherry
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (15 of 18), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, March 30, 2000 03:05 PM Isn't it funny. I read this eons ago, and can hardly remember a thing about it. But I've wanted to reread it ever since we went to see the film in Milwaukee during Sherry's 50th Birthday Bash. I'm picking it up at the library tomorrow. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (16 of 18), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Thursday, March 30, 2000 09:40 PM From the postings I just read Mrs. Dalloway is quite the book to read. I ordered it today from our library but this may take for ever. So I am going to look at the used book stores in our town. I have read a few of V. Woolf's book and found them interesting, unusual and sometimes puzzling. I also read stuff about her husband somewhere. Quite a guy. The To the Lighthouse stands out in my mind. If I remember correctly VW was another author who benefit ted from her precarious mental state. Did Jamieson mention her in her book Ann? Well I am looking forward to reading her book. Still reading Ulysses I got quite interested in Joyce and picked up a short biography. After being acquainted with several of his books he has become a puzzle to me. Well I have a question which probably can't be answered by anyone. How and Why did Joyce write Ulysses. Why pick this particular style of writing? Well the contrast of what he looked liked, sort of conventional bourgeois does not fit his literary output. Well how would one ever know these things? Ernie who is curious what makes people tick.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (17 of 18), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, March 30, 2000 09:52 PM Those are great questions about ULYSSES, Ernie. Why don't you re-post them in the Classics Corner ULYSSES thread? I'm sure they'd add a lot. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (18 of 18), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, March 30, 2000 10:39 PM Ernie, I don't own Jamison's book TOUCHED BY FIRE so I can't check, but since it is about the relationship between creative artists and depression/bipolar disorder, I think she must have at least mentioned Woolf. If I remember correctly, Woolf killed herself by loading her pockets with stones, walking into the ocean and drowning herself. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (19 of 22), Read 42 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, March 31, 2000 11:16 AM I think you've got Woolf's suicide right, Ann, except wasn't it the river? Ruth, being nitpicky
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (20 of 22), Read 41 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, March 31, 2000 12:41 PM That sounds right, Ruth. She seems to have lived a tortured life. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (21 of 22), Read 57 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, March 31, 2000 02:17 PM Ann, I think I mentioned here that I've read her collected letters and (I think) journals. I have a real fascination with that whole Bloomsbury scene. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (22 of 22), Read 61 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, March 31, 2000 02:57 PM In the river Ouse, it was. The web site addressing her psychiatric history cited above is really quite an interesting one. You can read the meat of her suicide note there, if you are morbidly curious. In retrospect she suffered from manic-depression of the bipolar variety, a condition that is apparently very common among creative types, particularly writers. This was all complicated by other illness and serious sexual abuse as a child. An incredibly difficult life. Steve
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (23 of 26), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, April 01, 2000 03:59 PM While I am only starting to scratch the surface of this whole Woolf thing, I must add that Cunningham describes Virginia Woolf's suicide in the river in 1941 in the opening section of The Hours, the book scheduled in the other section this month. It is a fascinating opening, I must say. Regarding Mrs. Dalloway, it would seem to me that the description of Septimus's mental state is so painfully delineated that I even wondered where an author in the mid-20s was picking this stuff up. There's a biting edge of realism to his madness. Septimus' manic behavior and thoughts of suicide do not seem contrived to move the plot along. Instead, he is a stone in the narrative flow that all events must swirl around. I admit I went through a heavy session of suicidal thoughts in my early 20s and Woolf captures such a mood vividly and accurately. You have a wonderful moment of clarity, maybe a bit of humor, and then; "It's now time to go and kill myself" and actually find yourself walking up the stairwell of a tall building or standing on the edge of a curb watching the grills of 18-wheelers flash by. I find Woolf's inclusion of the Septimus character a stroke of genius and not distraction. Some handle life like Peter, some like Clarissa, and some, unfortunately, like Septimus. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (24 of 26), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, April 02, 2000 10:52 PM Dan, I have about 75 pages left to go. I'll try to finish it up in the next couple of days. I think there is a lot to discuss. This is not an easy book, but there are passages of amazing insight and beauty. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (25 of 26), Read 4 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, April 02, 2000 11:50 PM Wow, that's an understatement, Ann! I must confess that I have attempted this book before, and I am grateful that it came up on the Classics Corner list. I was thereby motivated to give it another run and finished it today. Dan is the first here to get past the fascinating, tragic story of Virginia Woolf herself and attempt something about the merits of the book. I may still be a little too dazed for that. I don't know whether Virginia Woolf is the English William Faulkner or whether William Faulkner is the American Virginia Woolf. What I am attempting to convey with that is that I found this jumping from the stream-of-consciousness of one mind to the stream-of-consciousness of another mind brilliantly done. For example, in the street scenes (and when one has gotten into the swing of this a little), one is transported to the London she is portraying in a manner I have never encountered before and would not have thought possible. In part the impact of this work on me may have been a bit idiosyncratic in the sense of my easy and perfect identification with Peter Walsh. This guy is my alter-ego to the extent that is a bit frightening. Steve
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (26 of 26), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, April 03, 2000 12:04 AM Well -- I haven't readied the thoughts on this one yet but did finish it up a day or so ago. I enjoyed the flow of thought with which much of the tale is told also -- and the seamless shifts from one mind to the next were amazing to me. Once in a while I would read right through and suddenly be startled to find I was now reading another character, but usually it didn't put a bump into the process at all. I found passages which I recognized as being in others of Woolf's works which I have read or reread recently enough for them to be fresh. Maybe I was looking for these connections to TTL and AROOO and NAD from my current reading of the Lee bio of VW but I did pick them up. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (27 of 28), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, April 03, 2000 08:15 AM Maybe, it's because I saw the movie first, but I found this book to be amazingly cinematic. I can imagine Robert Altman doing a great version. He would keep the camera going and shift from one person to the next without any cuts. Somehow I was in complete accord with Woolfe and knew instinctively when she was shifting. The scene in the park was especially successful for me. I find this an amazing book. And I understand completely Daniel's desire to start right over again. This will be a book I read again, but I think I'll wait awhile. Sherry
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (28 of 28), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, April 03, 2000 09:07 AM Sherry & All: Speaking of the film version of MRS. DALLOWAY, which I thought was brilliantly done, the most harrowing scene to me was the intercutting of the spiked black iron fence and the view of it from the window above, just before the tragedy. It's still fresh in my mind, and ever since, I can't walk by a spiked iron fence in the neighborhood without feeling a twinge of panic. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (29 of 37), Read 39 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 09:32 AM I found the portrayal of the prominent "psychiatrist," Sir William Bradshaw, fascinating in connection with the Septimus story, Dan. If there is any villain in this book, Sir William is it. At the party after she has heard of Septimus's suicide, Clarissa thinks: "Or there were the poets and thinkers. Suppose he had had that passion, and had gone to Sir William Bradshaw, a great doctor yet to her obscurely evil, without sex or lust, extremely polite to women, but capable of some indescribable outrage--forcing your soul, that was it--if this young man had gone to him, and Sir William had impressed him, like that, with his power, might he not then have said (indeed she felt it now), Life is made intolerable; they make life intolerable, men like that?" And of course that is exactly what had happened. I interpret this as Clarissa expressing her feeling that Sir William is a sort of rapist of the soul. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (30 of 37), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 01:59 PM Notes in my edition suggest this is a reflection of how Virginia Woolf felt about a prominent person known to her own family who treated her during one or more of her early breakdowns. I will look for the info and post specifics later but I can add that this coincides with my reading in the Lee biography. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (31 of 37), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 03:17 PM I suspected as much, Dottie. Thank you for the scoop. As much as we would like to set an author's biography aside and discuss his or her novel standing alone, I can see that this is going be damned difficult with Virginia Woolf. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (32 of 37), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 04:34 PM I'm right in the middle of the diatribe against Sir William Bradshaw, and I agree, it most definitely has an autobiographical feel. I was sure VW was getting her own rocks off here. Thanks Dottie, for confirming it. Not sure this section works, for just that reason---it sticks out as a personal comment by the author. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (33 of 37), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 04:54 PM I think you're right, Ruth. I checked out the internet site that Steve posted, which provided details of Woolf's mental problems and their treatments, and the Bradshaw character struck me as a direct commentary on Woolf's doctors, who only seemed to know how to deal with her illness by proposing the rest cure. Dottie has confirmed that she had one of them definitely in mind. There didn't seem to be much in the text to justify Clarissa's categorization of Bradshaw as "evil"-- pompous maybe and definitely guilty of bad taste in bringing up death at Clarissa's party (which seemed to bother her inordinately), but hardly evil. He impressed Septimus's wife the same way. Interestingly enough, Rezia was very fond of the first physician, Dr. Holmes, who kept assuring her that there was nothing wrong with Septimus--wishful thinking I suppose. Steve, I found Peter the most likable character in this book. Society may have judged him a failure, but he seemed to be the only character who was truly alive. I don't quite understand the 30 year old attraction to Clarissa. He repeatedly described her as cold and her main accomplishment in life was being a good hostess. What do you think? Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (34 of 37), Read 40 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 07:58 PM I disagree with this ongoing commentary on Bradshaw--there's enough in Bradshaw's personality, his mannerisms, to justify Clarissa's impression of him as "raper of souls," to borrow Steve's colorful metaphor. Bradshaw was a self-assured ass, and Clarissa detected this tendency readily enough. Given his chosen profession was helping the mentally fragile, it would strike a person like Clarissa that Bradshaw's self-arrogance and narrow-mindedness could be anathema to many seeking his "help." I was fascinated with Woolf's treatment of shell shock with WWI veterans, especially in the 1920s. I am impressed with her ability to depict, realistically, the mental state of a war veteran. I say if Woolf's biography starts interfering with reading this text, then put it away. Stop looking for Virginia behind every verb or description. This novel is too powerfully written to be labeled an "authorial pulpit of poor mental health practitioners of the 1920s." Besides, the flowers cover everything. And did anyone notice that Clarissa's sister was killed by a falling tree? Given that the "tree" is used over and over to symbolize the interconnectedness of life, it is fascinating to find it the tool to kill within this novel. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (35 of 37), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 08:40 PM Steve, Ruth, Ann and Dan -- I have been reading the bio since long before I got either Mrs. Dalloway or The Hours in hand but I didn't read any of it during my time with Mrs. D. I intentionally voted for this dual discussion so as to get motivation to read at least one of the two biographies of VW that have been residing on my shelves ever since Dec. 1998 when both books and shelves arrived in Hasselt by way of Rotterdam. I am trying not to point to each and every little detail that is tied to reality of VW's life but can't promise not to pipe up from time to time if I think it will help clarify something. I happen to be one of those who runs TO the connections rather than trying to skirt them especially when they are as twisted within the fictions and other works as is the case here. I did indeed note the falling tree reference in there, Dan, but can you elaborate a bit on your statement concerning the tree as a symbol of the interconnectedness of life please? And the power in this novel is the reality at its roots and VW had first-hand experience with returned vets and shell-shock. As STeve says -- it is difficult to take VW and her writing apart. Dottie -- who WILL try not to babble much more on this ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (36 of 37), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 04:36 AM If you will permit me, Ann? I think you have posed the central question of this novel. I can't believe you hit on that question right out of the chute! In fact, I believe it is the question that Virginia Woolf intended for us to ask when she was writing this novel. I'm serious. You know what? I have thought and thought, and I don't have the faintest idea. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (37 of 37), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 04:50 AM Wait a minute. Let me not presume to comment on Virginia Woolf's state of mind. Let me rather say that it was the central question of the novel as far as I was concerned. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (38 of 49), Read 36 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 09:03 AM Dottie: I don't have a copy of Mrs. Dalloway with me, but there are passages where Septimus as well as Clarissa both have an epiphany where they realize that all life is interconnected and beautiful. In each of these epiphanies they articulate their feelings by referring to the branching of trees. I will find these passages and post them when I have the chance. In fact, it is the interweaving of botanical imagery which roots this novel. It starts with Clarissa going to buy the flowers and the plant imagery just blossoms over and over in surprising ways. It's hard to find any page where plants are not mentioned. The plants seem a symbol of the interconnectedness of life. Everything must be rooted in something. Without roots, people become like Sally Seton's beheaded flowers floating in a glass bowl--fascinating to look at but somehow grisly at the same time (I'm paraphrasing Clarissa's reaction to Sally's flower arrangement). And that "fascination" coupled with "grotesque" kind of sums up the way Peter Walsh appears to many characters within this novel. And to further this, there's the water imagery as well. The bells tolling the hour ripple over London like waves. There's a metaphor somewhere about a character compared to marsh grass and the water being unsettled elsewhere causing the marsh grass to shake. This is another image of this interconnectedness. Fluid and flowers--the symbolic texture of Mrs. Dalloway. I wish I had the time to illustrate these thoughts in a more organized fashion, but I have 15 things to do all at once yesterday. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (39 of 49), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 12:32 PM Dan -- I see what you are saying -- and will go back and see if I can locate these myself -- thanks! Yes, I know time is tied to water often and there are many flower/plant references -- I'm just glad you got those thoughts of yours down here before you go do those things yesterday! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (40 of 49), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 03:18 PM My last two notes were perhaps classic overstatements by Uncle Steve, Ann. Nonetheless, I am serious when I tell you that this very question you raise stayed with me as the entire novel unfolded. We are told that Peter was continually critical of Clarissa in their youth as if attempting to change her into someone she was not. He is still critical of her in his later years. There is even a tinge of real anger about this. Still on the face of it, the man seems to have continued to be hopelessly in love with the woman. Clearly, Clarissa is the realistic one in this context, realizing as she always has that marriage to Peter Walsh would have led to misery for them both. Or is she quite wrong about that? STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (41 of 49), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 06:01 PM Dalloway is a prince of a fellow, Steve, but he can't even manage to tell his wife he loves her, even when he expressly buys flowers and goes home to tell her that very thing. He strikes me as someone who is the best of his type, i.e.the stereotypical public school Englishman who can't express emotion, but genuinely tries to use his position in society for the greater good. Apparently, he is too sincere and not quite clever enough to rise to the highest ranks of public service, i. e. the Cabinet. With Peter, Clarissa might at least have broken out of the narrow mold society had prepared for her and experienced something fresh and unexpected. Would she have been happier? Her present position doesn't sound very appealing --a society hostess, alienated from her daughter and sleeping in a separate room from her husband so that she can get enough rest. I would definitely vote for Peter, but then I'm not Clarissa. English society judged Peter a failure and Richard a limited success. Society's judgment was important to Clarissa. She had a lot more life in her as a girl. While Peter and Sally are together at the party, Peter remembers her as a very sharp girl, a skeptic, someone who loved life ("it was her nature to enjoy)" and was amusing ("she had a sense of comedy, that was really exquisite)." I think it is the young Clarissa who still holds Peter in thrall thirty years later, the Clarissa with potential, if you will. I do like the way Woolf alternates between their thoughts in the scenes involving both Peter and Clarissa. Each of them criticizes the other, but each character also seems to be able to anticipate just what the other one is thinking. I am intrigued that Peter remembers Sally wanting him to carry off Clarissa when she was young so the Hughs and Dalloways of the world could not "stifle her soul." Is that somewhat akin to Bradshaw being "capable of some indescribable outrage--forcing your soul"? According to the introduction by Maureen Howard, Woolf confirmed that Bradshaw's patient Septimus was "intended to be the double of Mrs. Dalloway." Now that thought opens up all kinds of possibilities, but I am not so sure I see a strong connection. What do you all think? Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (42 of 49), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 06:11 PM Actually, I think the tree is the "Tree of Life," and each character finds a different meaning there. At one point, Peter Walsh is napping, and in his dream, he "...endows them with womanhood; sees with amazement how grave they become; how majestically, as the breeze stirs them, they dispense with a dark flutter of the leaves charity, comprehension, absolution, and then, flinging themselves suddenly aloft, confound the piety of their aspect with a wild carouse." For Peter, Clarissa is embodied in the trees, and serves as an analogy of his love for her. "So, he thinks, may I never go back to the lamplight; to the sitting-room; never finish my book, never knock out my pipe; never ring for Mrs. Turner to clear away; rather let me walk straight on to this great figure, who will, with a toss of her head, mount me on her streamers and let me blow to nothingness with the rest." (pp.85-87 in my edition.) There are also many references to leaves, which symbolize life, death, protection for the birds (Clarissa), and the endless plenty life has to offer. Septimus also uses the tree/woman analogy as a reflection of his own relationship with Rezia. "Shuffling the edges straight, she did up the papers, and tied the parcel almost without looking, sitting beside him he thought, as if all her petals were about her. She was a flowering tree; and through her branches looked out the face of a lawgiver, who had reached a sanctuary where she feared no one; no Holmes; not Bradshaw; a miracle, a triumph, the last and greatest." (pp.224-5) Clarissa has just awakened, and come downstairs. ".......she felt like a nun who has left the world and feels fold round her the familiar veils and the response to old devotions........It was her life, and, bending her head over the hall table, she bowed beneath the influence, felt blessed and purified, saying to herself, as she took the pad with the telephone message on it, how moments like this are buds on the tree of life, flowers of darkness they are, she thought (as if some lovely rose had blossomed for her eyes only);......" pp.42-3 Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (43 of 49), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 07:32 PM At one point, Clarissa says she did not marry Peter because ".... with Peter everything had to be shared; everything gone into. And it was intolerable, and when it came to that scene in the little garden by the fountain, she had to break with him or they would have been destroyed, both of them ruined, she was convinced............." I think Clarissa is thinking that though Life is sometimes over filled, it is better to just sit back and smell the roses for yourself. She makes such a statement later in the novel, when considering people that live in their heads all the time. (I cannot find the quote.) Clarissa and Richard have a relationship that seems to flow and flourish without having to say, "I love you." I agree, though, that Richard has a problem if he cannot vocalize that to his wife. Even so, she accepts the roses and thinks that they don't need to take their love apart to understand it. It just "is." Life just "is." I think the roses throughout the book symbolize the best of Life, and the constantly flowing inter connections that occur each day. That is why she says she can handle cutting any flower, except for the rose. Do you all agree with Sally and Peter regarding Clarissa's choice of marrying Richard, and becoming the socialite? I think she is much more than that. Is it possible they don't know her as well as they think they do? Clarissa has the art of living life as it comes - in a constant stream, and not as a cluster of analyzable parts. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (44 of 49), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 07:54 PM Here are the quotes I was searching for concerning this interconnected "tree" imagery: Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? but that somehow in the streets of London, on the ebb and flow of things, here, there, she survived, Peter survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the trees at home; of the house there ugly, rambling all to bits and pieces as it was; part of people she had never met; being laid out like a mist between the people she knew best, who lifted her on their branches as she had seen the trees lift the mist, but it spread ever so far, her life, herself. Besides being a heck of a sentence, this is quite a bit of information for page 12 of the novel. Notice she chooses Peter "surviving" and not Richard--this is before she even realizes he is, in fact, present in this very city. Also, there is the recurring motif of the "mist" permeating everything, a mist which the sharp points of London tries unsuccessfully to dispel later. This is much akin to that swamp grass swaying in the rippled water. Also, notice Clarissa's thoughts of death--"or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?"-- a thought which could very well persuade someone to commit suicide if they were unhappy enough. I agree: There is much akin between Septimus and Clarissa. I don't find Clarissa the slightest bit enviable--she is not the picture of economy and sagacity that appears on the surface of this novel. I think she made a mistake not accepting her love for Peter, but she decides to forge ahead with society gatherings to mask the feelings of regret, of loneliness, which punctuate her day. And one final note: Concerning Bradshaw. Realize Clarissa's "only gift:" Her only gift was knowing people almost by instinct, she thought, walking on. If you put her in a room with some one, up went her back like a cat's; or she purred. Evidently, with Bradshaw, "up went her back." Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (45 of 49), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 09:36 PM I just got started on this book a few nights ago and keep on comparing style and flow of association with Joyce. I find her flow of association easier to follow than Joyce's. The thread above makes it easier for me to follow. I still am reminded of artistic impressionism which was quite prominent at that time. Interesting to see this art form in literature. Of course I am a bit puzzled why impressionism became prominent in literature as well. I am afraid I have to agree that one must read paragraphs and perhaps the whole book over certainly more than once to get a full understanding. But even a superficial reading gives you a feeling tone and your own inner associations which may keep one occupied. Can't wait to read about this famous psychiatrist that was mentioned by others. Does he fit the pattern of any that I have met or worked with - the good and the bad? Ernie
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (46 of 49), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2000 10:57 PM Kay, I'm so glad you joined us. Thanks for pulling together all the tree quotes. It made it much easier to appreciate the symbolism. I also enjoyed reading your perspective on Clarissa and her relationship with Peter and Richard. She obviously felt threatened by Peter, even concluding that they would "destroyed" and "ruined" if they ended up together. Richard was the safe choice. Dan, the section you quoted is a perfect example of the beautiful writing that makes this book worthwhile for me, in spite of its difficulty. And you are so right about Clarissa's thoughts about death. In fact, throughout the book, the characters seem to be pulled between choosing to enjoy life or surrendering to the peace of death . Septimus and Clarissa feel it, and there is a section about Peter resting in the park which makes me think he feels the attraction of death as well. He daydreams about a solitary traveller who sees a figure "made up of sky and branches" which "had risen from the troubled sea (he is elderly, past fifty now) as a shape might be sucked up out of the waves to shower down from her magnificent hands compassion, comprehension absolution. So, he thinks, may I never go back to the lamplight; to the sitting room; never finish my book; never knock out my pipe; never ring for Mrs. Turner to clear away; rather let me walk straight on to this great figure, who will, with a toss of her head, mount me on her streamers and let me blow to nothingness with the rest." Right after this section, he wakes up saying "The death of the soul." Immediately he thinks of an incident in the past involving Clarissa, which he saw as signaling "the death of her soul." They are discussing a housemaid married to well-born neighbor. Upon being informed that the housemaid bore him a child before marriage, Clarissa announces she will never be able to speak to her again. Hm, I wonder if Woolf thinks Clarissa's soul is already dead because of the life she has chosen, even though her body lives on. What do you think? Ernie, I find Woolf's style difficult as well. I reread the first chapter and it was easier to follow the characters' stream of consciousness the second time around because I was at least familiar with the people they were thinking about. Woolf more or less plops us down inside their minds without any preparation. Even so, there were still long passages I had to read more than once. If there weren't for those many passage of startling beauty, I might have given up. Ann, one of the "elderly" over 50 crowd
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (47 of 49), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 02:52 AM Ann -- You have chapters? I have just one long story with no chapter breaks. I am having this funny, disconnected feeling of -- the more I read, the less I know I have read! So -- I think I might just set out at the beginning again -- in the Financial Times review of The Hours it is suggested that one should read The Hours, then read Mrs. Dalloway and then come back to The Hours -- maybe I will do it the other way around and finish The Hours which I started a couple days ago before rereading Mrs. Dalloway. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (48 of 49), Read 6 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 07:13 AM Would you find Clarissa's soul to be "dead?" I think she is very much alive. She has chosen to live more in a state of simply "being," more than a state of "tearing things apart," as Sally, Peter, and perhaps Woolf prefer. She recognizes this choice she has made, and makes an allowance for the possibility of change in herself. "Every time she gave a party she had this feeling of being something not herself, and that every one was unreal in one way; much more real in another. It was, she thought, partly their clothes,partly being taken out of their ordinary way,s partly the background, it was possible to say things you couldn't say anyhow else, things that needed an effort; possible to go much deeper. But not for her; not yet anyhow." Clarissa is not content with "pulling things apart." She lives Life as a whole, and looks to other people and things to complete the whole of her soul. After riding on top of an omnibus, she says, ".......she felt herself everywhere; not 'here,here, here;' and she tapped the back of the seat; but everywhere........So that to know her, or any one, one must seek out the people who completed them; even the places." Perhaps Clarissa is not as shallow as Sally and Peter see her. She has a considered reason for living her life as she does, and for choosing Richard over Peter. Richard completed her. This desire to "complete" Life is tied up with Clarissa's love of giving parties. Part of her motivation is to bring people together, to connect them. Perhaps part of her attraction for the deep thinkers (Sally and Peter) who disdain her choices is her ability to appreciate the immediate moment. Clarissa completes them. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (49 of 49), Read 7 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 07:24 AM What's the symbolism of Peter's knife? Every time he thinks of or talks about Clarissa, out it comes. Everyone seems to accept and understand its appearance. Is it self defense? An attack? A penchant for cutting to the core of issues? A means of severing connectedness? I was also confused about the billowing yellow curtains at the party. At first, they seemed to signify a threat and later a resolution. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (50 of 66), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 09:09 AM I must shift my ground a little. The reasons for Peter's love of Clarissa is not the central question here. After all, there is nothing logical about that emotion anyway. The central question has bubbled up in these great notes that have been posted recently. Has Clarissa's soul been stifled as a result of her choice of Richard as Sally feared it would be way back when? Ann presents evidence for one answer to this question and Kay for another. I suppose the answer is neither a clear yes or a clear no. However, I have to wonder about a woman who finds her identity as a society hostess and who attaches such great importance to these parties. It seems to me rather sad when the import of one's life is determined by whether the Prime Minister shows up or not. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (51 of 66), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 09:24 AM Dottie, I lied. My edition, a paperback from Harcourt, Brace & Company, does not have chapters. Kay, I like the fact that you view Clarissa so much more positively than I do. It forces me to reconsider my own ideas. Clarissa's main achievement in life is being a society hostess. Although personal relationships are important to me, I dislike large parties. That undoubtedly colors my judgment. To me, Clarissa's life seems empty. Note that the book is not called "Clarissa", but "Mrs. Dalloway." She is defined by her relationship to her husband. It was, of course, another era, and perhaps I am being too hard on her, but there were women, like Woolf herself, who did much more to develop an independent life. What do you think of her treatment of the poor cousin at her party? I thought it showed a certain cruelty. Peter's penchant for playing with his knife during every conversation is certainly an odd habit. If I had to choose, I would say that it symbolized his willingness to cut into complacency and satisfaction with the status quo. Steve, yes, it is impossible to rationalize love. The heart has its reasons, etc. etc. Ann, who really should be preparing for the invasion of her son's soccer team for dinner, but who is, after all, a very bad hostess.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (52 of 66), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 09:33 AM Folks: Wonderful, wonderful notes. I know I'll be reading this thread more than once. Ernie: I like your idea that Woolf has the ambitiousness and range of Joyce, but much easier to follow. Still not easy, though, for me. Woolf demands my 100% attention to stay on board her train of thought, and I've found that if I attempt her after just a glass of Chardonnay, the connection is severed. And for me, going wineless for the sake of a writer is the highest possible tribute.{G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (53 of 66), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 10:25 AM Actually Ernie, Mrs. Dalloway follows Joyce's story "The Dead" before anything else. In that story, we have a social gathering and in the end the main character achieves an epiphany while watching the snow fall. It is a resignation that also pervades Mrs. Dalloway. Woolf is careful to separate her characters and the narrative guide is extremely cordial when it comes to differentiating character thoughts. In fact, as odd as it sounds, I couldn't get a grip on this novel until I slowed my reading pace way down and relaxed, pausing significantly at commas, more significantly at semi-colons, and took almost 10 seconds at colons and periods. It clarified the poetry at work. This novel is no quick read. As Dale stated, it takes 100% concentration or you'll miss it. As for Clarissa, she is an embodiment of the death of the soul. Sure, she daydreams atop the omnibus that she is "connected" and "connecting," but face it action speaks louder than thoughts. On rereading the text, I notice Woolf does often have character thoughts not matching character actions or impressions. Peter is getting on in years, he isn't the "buccaneer" he pretends to be when he follows the strange lady. He's deluding himself. Clarissa is, as Ann said above, "dead in the soul" and is only an appendage to her husband, a "Mrs. Dalloway." Clarissa thinks she welcomes everyone equally, but in reality she is being a snob for most of the party. Again, I'll mention the rich symbolism in this novel. Woolf does not gather metaphors at random--she ties her symbolism tightly using a few powerful ones drawn from the fields of botany and hydrology. She is able to weave these symbols into the text, into the action, without it really being intrusive. As a reader, I never felt: "Oh right, FLOWERS everybody--the character is holding FLOWERS, thinking about FLOWERS, and his actions are being described using FLOWERS." Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (54 of 66), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 10:55 AM I have to admit I'm flagging on this, may not make it into the final round. I loved the film, but I feel like I'm going down for the third time about 3/4 through the novel. As for Clarissa---can't stand the woman. Passive aggressive in spades. Actually, I'm wondering if the whole book isn't passive aggressive. Ruth, feeling sour this morning
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (55 of 66), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 11:40 AM Okay, okay, Dan. Botany and hydrology for sure. You sent me to the dictionary with "hydrology." I previously thought that referred to a method of growing killer marijuana, another substance in addition to Chardonnay that does not work at all well with Mrs. Dalloway. To see Ann finally caught in a lie here has made my day. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (56 of 66), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 11:52 AM Consigliere: Were you thinking, maybe, "hydroponics"? (And do you know of a practitioner of this trade, in connection with that botanical variety you mention, who does mail order? {G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (57 of 66), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 12:20 PM One more afterthought on MRS. DALLOWAY... I think one reason this book continues to be relevant and intriguing (above and beyond its amazing use of language, and regardless of how the reader feels personally about certain characters) is how cleanly it cuts to the center of one of our chief human dilemmas. There's a supposed (maybe apocryphal, but still) ancient Chinese curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times." Every day, every one of us makes numerous choices that circle around just this question. Do we choose the "interesting" and "educational" result, or the "logical" and "sensible" one? Each day we age, I think, we tend more toward the latter than the former, if only to conserve the eroding energy of our heart against the inevitable slings and arrows of mortality we know are shortly to follow. MRS. DALLOWAY shows the result of making that choice at a relatively young age, and brings to mind one of my favorite contemporary American philosophers, songwriter Don Henley, who once said, "Every form of refuge has its price." I submit that truer words about the human condition have never been spoken. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (58 of 66), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 02:50 PM Dale- Having reached those grand and glorious middle aged years, I find myself freed to make whatever choices I please. I could identify with Clarissa and Peter when they looked back on how much they have experienced, if not learned. Are we meant to simply accept Peter and Sally's judgement of Clarissa's dead soul? I am not convinced that Woolf was writing her off quite that neatly. I think Clarissa represents a vibrant part of Woolf's own personality. Peter certainly does not have what I would call a rich life, filled with meaningful relationships. Of Clarissa, Peter, and Sally, I'd have to say Sally has come the closest to living both an intellectual and an immediate kind of life. She is the one I'd like to spend some time with. I don't see much intellectual depth to Clarissa, but I would not describe her as a dead soul. At least she has spent some time pondering the interconnectedness of life. Yes, she is petty and mean at times, no question. However, she does know how to take joy in a beautiful moment. That is not a symptom of a dead soul. Hugh, on the other hand, is a dead soul, as he has neither an inquisitive mind or meaningful emotional relationships with others. He is oblivious to the constant motion of the world. Nor does he spend time trying to make sense of life. Kay, who is trying to make sense, period.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (59 of 66), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 03:13 PM While we are waiting for Dale, Kay, I wished to interject that my earlier note was not intended to convey an uncritical acceptance of Peter and Sally's assessment of Clarissa. There is not a thing you have written here that I adamantly disagree with. Moreover, I ask myself if this is a woman with a dead soul, why do I like her so much? The dead soul in this novel clearly belongs to Ms. Kilmer, and the soul in the balance belongs to Elizabeth. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (60 of 66), Read 38 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 03:27 PM Kay: Woh! Your thoughtful and food-ful post raises many more questions for me on this already rich food-for-thought thread. The first reference that comes to mind, for me, is some philosopher's contention that "the unexamined life is not worth living," and a later critic's corrollary that "the over-examined life is not capable of being lived." It seems to me that all the characters in MRS. DALLOWAY (and for that matter, its readers) fall between those two extremes. I agree that Clarissa "doesn't have much intellectual depth," "has [unlke Hugh] spent some time pondering the interconnectedness of life." But I totally agree with your description that she "is petty and mean at times, but does know how to take joy in a beautiful moment." To (probably) misquote Shakespeare, I say "'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd..." Clarissa is, as are all the other characters to me, a real human being. Love 'em or hate 'em, we have to give these folks their due for merely surviving. And one of the supreme ironies of the human condition is that we often fall helplessly in love with one we "hate," on the logical plane. And, vice-versa. I also agree that Hugh is "oblivious to the constant motion of the world," and "does not spend time trying to make sense of life." Which, for me, brings us back to the millennia-old question of the two poles that sentient beings must choose from: to dwell in the immediate sensory experience, like one of our pets, or to have the benefit (?) of foresight and prepare for our (temporal, at least) decline and ruin not too far down the road, and deal with same in our every action. I firmly believe there is also a third path, which is to be sacred and holy and perceptive enough to choose the Third Way. I try and try, but I haven't gotten there yet. >>Dale in Ala., temporarily stuck (I hope) between Way #1 and Way #2
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (61 of 66), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 03:43 PM We can't consider Hugh a total zero, folks. I am sure all those letters he wrote to the Times made gripping reading. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (62 of 66), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 05:21 PM I'm over my snit and back into the book. Chalk it up to the migraine, which is now fading. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (63 of 66), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 07:01 PM I had wondered why we do not hear much from Elizabeth, and Dale has answered my question. She does represent the soul in the balance. She has not yet been typecast as a poplar or a hyacinth. She has, however, already opted out of a deadening friendship with Miss Kilman. That was a blow for independence, and her right to live life on her own terms. Clarissa had a similar decision to make. Had she married Peter, she would have been expected to measure up to his definition of what constitutes a worthwhile existence. By marrying Richard, she was allowed to just "be." I understand her choice. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (64 of 66), Read 10 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 08:10 PM Dale, you make me think. When I was in my twenties I took risks. Nowadays, I almost always choose the safe path. So, why do I criticize Clarissa for my own faults? Steve, I think we must grant Miss Kilmer a bit of slack. Hers is a very difficult life. Woolf writes of: the infliction of her unlovable body which people could not bear to see. Do her hair as she might, her forehead remained like an egg, bald, white. No clothes suited her. She might buy anything. And for a woman, of course, that meant never meeting the opposite sex. Never would she come first with any one. Sometimes lately it had seemed to her that, except for Elizabeth, her food was all that she lived for; her comforts; her dinner, her tea; her hot-water bottle at night. Life is unfair. No wonder her soul is dead. Kay, does Clarissa appeal to her because you see her as a woman who put family first? Just wondering. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (65 of 66), Read 7 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 08:57 PM Ann- I felt a need to defend Clarissa, mainly because I thought the "dead soul" declarations were unfair and inaccurate. She deserved more recognition and appreciation than that. I was not considering her in her role as wife and mother. I saw her as an individual. I often find myself living more in my head than in the moment. When I can catch myself at it, I try to step outside the box, and look for the Clarissa moments. As a child, I was rewarded for academic achievements. Emotional highs and lows weren't really allowed. That may be why I rushed to Clarissa's defense. Those emotional excursions are important as a counterbalance for purely intellectual pursuits. I hadn't thought about why I felt such a strong a need to defend Clarissa. Good pick up, Ann. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (66 of 66), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 10:07 PM Ann, certainly with regard to the Kilmers of the world, we can recognize that life has been difficult if not impossible for them. We can try to imagine. We can sympathize from afar. We can even cut them some slack, as you say. However, we must keep ourselves and those we love disentangled from them at all costs. Write that down. It's important. You can return the favor sometime. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (67 of 71), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 12:51 AM Amen, Steve. Now that I'm over my snit and back into the book, I'll say that what I'm enjoying most are the descriptions of the day, the weather, the curtains billowing in the wind, etc. Beautiful visuals. Ruth, who's beginning to think Clarissa is like Oakland--there's no there there.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (68 of 71), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 04:45 AM Ruth- I also delighted in the sense of movement by being able to flow from one character's mind to the next. It was if they were all playing "tag." Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (69 of 71), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 08:27 AM On a slightly different note one of the interesting things about this novel for me is how much depth the author creates in so short a work. A portrait of an entire society is rendered so quickly. There may be as many characters in this as there is in War and Peace. For example in the Regent's Park scene, we get a quick little vignette about Maisie Johnson, nineteen and newly arrived from Edinburgh, who encounters Septimus talking to himself and a frantic Rezia and becomes horrified by the strangeness of the big city. Then we move seamlessly to Mrs. Dempster's reaction to the sight of Maisie, which results in her reflecting on her difficult life with Percy, who drank. (She mentally asks pity of Maisie for the loss of roses as she stands by the hyacinth beds, Dan.) The author captures so much in so few words about these minor characters. What the heck was the airplane trying to spell? STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (70 of 71), Read 7 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 09:54 AM Kay, I posed the question about Clarissa's soul being dead, based on Peter's comments about the death of her soul. However, I agree with you that it is too strong an accusation. I could have done with far less emotion in my own childhood, but for some reason I am always attracted to emotional and rebellious characters in novels, where they are safely confined to the pages of a book. Peter represents adventure to me, and Clarissa the loss of potential and opportunity. Whether this is what the author intended or not, I couldn't say. Differences in opinion are what make these discussions fun, and I am delighted that you have done such an excellent job of defending another point of view. Steve and Ruth, I fully agree with you about Miss Kilmer. What the heck was Elizabeth doing with her? She seems like the kind of character a teenager would avoid at all costs. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (71 of 71), Read 7 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 09:54 AM Steve- I wondered the same thing. Could it be that each person saw only what he was capable of seeing? Each envisioned something different in the same moment, from the same stimulus. Thus, they were connected to each other, though living very separate lives. Just when someone came up with a theory as to what the plane was spelling, someone else proferred another. The meaning of life is real, but it teases us, and eludes our continual search. What do you make of Rezia's lament that follows the airplane? "There was nobody. Her words faded. (Like the letters from the airplane?) So a rocket fades. Its sparks, having grazed their way into the night, surrender to it, dark descends, pours over the outlines of houses and towers; bleak hillsides soften and fall in. But though they are gone, the night is full of them; robbed of colour, blank of windows, they exist more ponderously, give out what the frank daylight fails to transmit - the trouble and suspense of things conglomerated there in the darkness; huddled together in the darkness; reft of the relief which dawn brings when, washing the wall white and grey, spotting each windowpane, lifting the mist from the fields, showing the red-brown cows peacefully grazing, all is one more decked out to the eye; exists again." Kay "The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books." Katherine Mansfield
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (72 of 82), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 10:15 AM Kay, I think the differences in people's perceptions is a large part of the novel. For instance, several times after describing the interaction between Septimus and Reiza, Woolf will suddenly flash to someone else's point of view--which will be a completely different interpretation of what is going on. Or consider the differing diagnoses of Drs. Holmes and Bradshaw, neither of which really describes Septimus' problems. David
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (73 of 82), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 11:56 AM I ask this question sincerely: What do you think the author means when she uses the term "dead soul" ? And what do you mean when you use the term ? Would you use it, have you used it, in your everyday life ? Pres
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (74 of 82), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 01:46 PM Fascinating ongoing discussion about that airplane and its mysterious writing. I concur that it had something to do with different people's views and opinions. Perhaps--and I'm thinking this off the top of my head--the plane represents life's story written in such a manner as to preclude a definite interpretation. The people watching the airplane cannot even decipher the word the plane was attempting to spell, much less any connotations of that word. Like people and their perceptions of Septimus in the park. They all see the same concrete fact, but they all tend to see it differently, filtered by their own prejudices and perspectives. A similar occurrence is the mysterious black car which parades down the street leaving a wash of people guessing and demanding to know who is the famous person within. Looking at my paragraphs above, this cements Woolf's use of peripheral characters like Maisie and Dempster: To fully appreciate the multiple facets of the lives of Septimus, Clarissa, and Peter, one must also step into the mind of a complete stranger. Sure the stranger may be wrong--Peter assumes Septimus and his wife are having a lover's quarrel--but their errors can be very enlightening. Pres: I hate to dive into this, but when I use the term "dead soul" I mean a person whose creativity, inspiration, and spontaneity have dried up or withered. Such a person lives life on a rail to the grave. Granted, now a definitive answer, but one nonetheless. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (75 of 82), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 01:57 PM Pres- I'm going to hedge a bit here. The first time Woolf uses the phrase, "death of the soul," is right after Clarissa declares she will never again be able to speak to the couple who had the baby before marriage. Peter is so outraged at her manner that he labels it "timid; hard; something arrogant; unimaginative; prudish. 'The death of the soul.' He had said that instinctively, ticketing the moment as he used to do - the death of her soul." From that, I think Woolf meant that any kind of unexplored conventional life is unacceptable. Anyone that lives by the rules, without serious examination of those rules, is living with a dead soul. Hugh is a good example. I have not used the term, "dead soul." If I did, I would mean someone living without a clue to others' feelings, motivations, and perspective. "Dead soul" would include those that accept life without questioning. I would also use "dead soul" to describe those that seem to have chosen Evil as their traveling companion. The above conditions would not have to co-exist for a person to be labeled such. Perhaps this is why I have defended Clarissa. My definition of "dead soul" differs from Woolf's. Kay "The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books." Katherine Mansfield
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (76 of 82), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 02:02 PM Dan- What tickled me about the car scene was that, as intrigued as they all were with who it was, as soon as the sky writing started, they were distracted, and completely missed the car entering the gates. We are easily distracted and often miss the opportunity to nail down a fact. Kay "The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books." Katherine Mansfield
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (77 of 82), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 02:51 PM Another thing that might be at work in the Peter/Clarissa equation, it occurs to me, is "the one that got away" syndrome. His memories of the person Clarissa is are just those: memories. And they're completely unsullied by the day-to-day business of living with her. Hard for a flesh-and-blood figure to measure up. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (78 of 82), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 04:16 PM Of the countless gorgeous passages in MRS. DALLOWAY, this is one that really stays with me: "I had meant to have dancing," said Clarissa. For the young people could not talk. And why should they? Shout, embrace, swing, be up at dawn; carry sugar to ponies; kiss and caress the snouts of adorable chows; and then all tingling and streaming, plunge and swim. But the enormous resources of the English language, the power it bestows, after all, of communicating feelings (at their age, she and Peter would have been arguing all the evening), was not for them. They would solidify young. They would be good beyond measure to the people on the estate, but alone, perhaps, rather dull. "What a pity!" she said. "I had hoped to have dancing." *** Question: to what extent, if at all, do you guys think Clarissa was self-aware of the degree to which she herself had "solidified young"? >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (79 of 82), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 07:59 PM Dale- I think Clarissa is aware that others see her as having solidified young. She questions her own life decisions, and still comes down on the side of living with her heart over her head. "What she liked was simply life." "But suppose Peter said to her, 'Yes,yes, but your parties-what's the sense of your parties?' all she could say was (and nobody could be expected to understand): They're an offering; ...." She knows it is possible to go deeper in life. "But not for her; not yet anyhow." After introducing the Prime Minister, she thinks, ".......for, though she loved it and felt it tingle and sting, still these semblances, these triumphs (dear old Peter, for example, thinking her so brilliant), had a hollowness; at arm's length they were, not in the heart; and it might be that she was growing old but they satisfied her no longer as they used......" Clarissa recognizes her early solidification, but is still pleased with her life as a whole. When she hears the news of Septimus' death, she is at first angry and frightened that he would take his life. Then she realizes "...she did not pity him, with all this going on.......Fear no more the heat of the sun. ....She felt somehow very like him-the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away....He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun." Was Clarissa aware others saw her as solidified young? Yes. Did she care? No. Will she change? Probably not. But she will die having loved her life. For all their talk of not being dead souls, what have Sally and Peter accomplished in life? Sally has both her mental curiosity and seems quite happy with her five boys. I think that though she bemoans Clarissa's lack of intellectual curiosity, she understands why Clarissa made the choices she has. Peter, however, hasn't made any kind of lasting mark in the world. All he can do is mourn his loss of Clarissa. That loss will continue to haunt him and color any relationships he will have. He is lonely and living in the past. I think Clarissa was right. When you're down and out, it's the people that love you and the beauty of the world that make the difference. Intellectual pursuits keep life interesting, but take second place to affairs of the heart. Kay, who is trying hard not to be a Pollyanna.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (80 of 82), Read 3 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 09:12 PM Dead soul is not a term I would ever use. But I construe it as meaning someone who cannot extend beyond the immediate, who doesn't examine the given, who can only live their own life (and that not fully) and has no hope of experiencing life through any kind of vicarious or empathetic viewpoint. Clarissa fits the bill. And it's what I meant when I said she was like Oakland, no there there. She is all surface. Yes, she enjoys the present, the now, the look of things, but that's as far as it goes. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (81 of 82), Read 8 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 09:24 PM Kay, as to your question to me concerning that passage quoted in yours of 9:54 AM: Perhaps like the airplanes letters, but explicitly like a rocket fading. I made this passage to be a very poetic description of the falling night of Rezia's loneliness as Septimus departs into complete madness. Just before this passage she was thinking of her own place and her own people in Italy, "not half alive like people here" in London. Far be it from me to criticize Virginia, but I wish she had left out the phrase that begins "reft. . . ." She wanted to contrast daytime with the "trouble and suspense of things conglomerated" in the night. It seems to me to just muddle up the metaphor. Actually, the rest of that same paragraph that you did not quote is fantastic. Now, as to yours of 7:59 PM: I was right with you up to this point: "I think Clarissa was right. When you're down and out, it's the people that love you and the beauty of the world that make the difference. Intellectual pursuits keep life interesting, but take second place to affairs of the heart." While I would go along with you on the point that Clarissa has an appreciation for the beauty of the world, you lost me on the rest of this. Isn't the whole point here that Clarissa has nobody who loves her except Peter. Furthermore, this doesn't bother her overly. She clearly cares nothing for intellectual pursuits at all, but I don't think she cares a whit about "affairs of the heart" either. She will however brood incessantly about not having been invited to lunch by Millicent Bruton, whose lunch parties are said to be amusing. I also must point out--because it seems to be my role to point out such things--that Clarissa is hopelessly frigid "with a virginity preserved through childbirth which clung to her like a sheet." She had "failed" Richard on some river in England and in Constantinople (and all points in between presumably). Occasionally, when some young woman is confessing something to her, "she did undoubtedly then feel what men felt," but that's it. She has only been in love once in her life. That was with Sally Seton when they were young. Sally kissed her on the lips by some urn with flowers in it, and Clarissa was ultra-pissed off when Peter interrupted all this. Isn't Peter the one who believes in the overwhelming importance of affairs of the heart? STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (82 of 82), Read 3 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 10:01 PM On the soul discussion: In the process of portraying the London of the time, Virginia Woolf is also advancing the proposition that in order to enter the highest levels of society and power, it was absolutely necessary to stifle one's soul or have the advantage of a congenital lack of one. This is the reason that Peter has not been a success (or "suck-cess" as Bob Dylan is wont to pronounce it). This is the reason that although she is now filthy rich with new money, Sally Seton is debarred from this elite circle. Certainly, Septimus is mad because he possessed far too much soul to endure what he had been required to. The lowly people on the street have more soul than Hugh, Lady Bruton, Richard (the detester of Shakespeare), Sir William Bradshaw, et al. Others here have alluded to this same thing with the references to following "the rules." If you insist that I define how I am using the word "soul," I have six great Ray Charles albums I would be happy to lend you. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (83 of 103), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 07:38 AM I think my last post is lost in that great computer in the sky. Basically, I agree that Clarissa hasn't much upstairs. I agree that her definition of success is narrow. I disagree that no one loves her except Peter. All the major characters are drawn to Clarissa. Why would they be so arrogantly concerned about her lost soul if they weren't? Would I want to spend much time with Clarissa? No. Could I depend on her? No. Do I like anything about her? You bet - her appreciation of life, selfish though it may be. Kay, who doesn't like to write any one off without checking for some redeeming qualities first.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (84 of 103), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 08:30 AM This is a fascinating discussion. I read MD a couple of weeks ago and I know that in order for me to enter into this discussion with any depth, I will probably have to reread the book. I've forgotten so much; I don't even remember who Hugh is. But even with my limitations I want to say how Clarissa seemed to me. I think she is not a dead soul, but a dampened one. All this talk about loving what she has at the moment, in the present, seems to me to be a kind of sorrow. I hear her trying to convince herself that she made the right choices. I sense that she doesn't want to face up to the opportunities she may have missed. Don't we all have regrets? Aren't we all victims of the time we grew up in? Clarissa seems an excellent example of the frightened soul who chooses her mate based on safety, on societal comforts. And because she is this kind of flawed being, I like her all the more. Sherry
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (85 of 103), Read 38 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 09:28 AM You are correct in your assessment of her, Sherry. Her thoughts are this after hearing of the suicide at the party: Then (she had felt it only this morning) there was the terror; the overwhelming incapacity, one's parents giving it into one's hands, this life, to be lived to the end, to be walked with serenely; there was in the depths of her heart an awful fear. Even now, quite often if Richard had not been there reading the 'Times,' so that she could crouch like a bird and gradually revive, send roaring up that immeasurable delight, rubbing stick to stick, one thing with another, she must have perished. . . . The passage carries on in this vein, and I believe constitutes the answer to Sally Seton's question, ". . .to be frank then, how could she have done it?--married Richard Dalloway? a sportsman, a man who cared only for dogs. Literally, when he come into the room he smelt of the stables. And then all this? She waved her hand." STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (86 of 103), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 09:57 AM Ann, I certainly did not ignore your earlier question concerning that statement in your introduction that Virginia Woolf intended Septimus to be the double of Mrs. Dalloway. Let us assume she did say that and furthermore, that she meant it. What is the connection? I have been pondering that ever since reading your earlier note on this subject. In addition to what I have written about Clarissa above, we should also note that her bed has gotten "narrower and narrower," an allusion to the coffin in my opinion. I have now concluded that in the face of the complex difficulty of life, both Septimus and Clarissa committed suicide, each in their own fashion. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (87 of 103), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 11:18 AM Sherry wrote: "I hear her trying to convince herself that she made the right choices." Excellent, observation, Sherry. Clarissa has recently suffered a severe illness, some type of heart disease which presumably threatens her future as well. Such an experience often leads people to re-evaluate their life choices. The appearance of Peter, the rejected suitor, obviously encourages this. Few people can bear to admit that they have taken the wrong path in life. Clarissa thinks she should be happy, and she tells herself that she is. She is not always convincing. Steve, I think it is too strong to say that Clarissa committed some kind of spiritual suicide, although that may be what Woolf intended. Why else would she refer to Clarissa as Septimus' double? I do find a similarity in that both characters are haunted by death. Clarissa has a real "horror of death", perhaps stemming from her recent illness, perhaps originating much earlier. To deal with it she had developed a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her skepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places after death…perhaps-perhaps. There is obviously more to her than the superficially charming society hostess others see. At times, she feels she is already dead, as in this reference to her "virginal" bed: It was all over for her. The sheet was stretched and the bed narrow. She had gone up into the tower alone and left them blackberrying in the sun. The door had shut.... I don't think we should be too hard on Clarissa. She is a lot like many of us, attempting to derive what enjoyment she can out of everyday life, but occasionally haunted by its more difficult truths. If her soul is dead, so are most of ours.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (88 of 103), Read 44 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 11:28 AM Steve, funny, I woke this morning and lay in bed, staring out at the wisteria in bloom and pondering the very question of the Septimus/Clarissa connection Ann mentioned. One of the ideas that rolled around in my head was that I don't think Clarissa could feel very much. Yes, I know she went around thinking how lovely things were, but that seemed (like Sherry suggested)as if she were trying to convince herself she was feeling. So on the one hand we have Clarissa, moving almost like a sleepwalker, barely touching the surface of feeling. And on the other, we have Septimus, nothing but one great raw, quivering nerve. Septimus dies, body horribly mangled. And Clarissa's soul is dead. Same difference? Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (89 of 103), Read 39 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 12:05 PM Several CR's see Clarissa as a total write off. Others see her as not all bad. I'd like to ask everyone why s/he thinks Sally and Peter love her. Did Woolf like her as a character? What guidelines are proposed for living a worthwhile life? Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (90 of 103), Read 36 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 12:08 PM What about the idea that a soul is dead when its owner doesn't accept or rejects life - closes the door, as it were, in order to have an (illusionary) safe coziness ? Pres
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (91 of 103), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 12:24 PM Kudos to Sherry for articulating my very thought: Mrs. Dalloway is truly not as happy as her thoughts would have us believe. As readers, we can hone in on the passages where she seems to be having an epiphany or we can note the multiple times she is despondent over a situation or a past decision (she sleeps alone, her daughter is being influenced by an ugly Christian (and remember folks: Steve says don't truck with no ugly Christian folk--you can sympathize with 'em, but don't hang with 'em), she hates most of the people she greets at her party, she cannot attend to her 'friends' Peter and Sally because of social obligations). Steve brought up my current thought: What of Clarissa's love for Sally Seton? Could Woolf be using Peter Walsh as a red herring, luring the unsuspecting reader to believe that turning him down was her mistake when, in actuality, it was not pursuing her genuine affection for Sally that "deadened" her soul? Is Clarissa really the person she should be during the present tense of this novel? I realize I'm out on a limb here, but bear with me a moment: The most intense feelings Clarissa ever mentions having is the feeling of holding the hot water bottle and saying to herself over and over, "She's under my roof." This feeling is consummated with the kiss by the urn, a kiss Clarissa is outraged that Peter interrupts (just think of the implications of his very name in this context). Now Clarissa is everything society deems successful--husband, daughter, social gatherings. But she sleeps alone, her sex life is on the skids and she even feels "virginal" after giving birth to a daughter. Enter Sally, the "Lady Rosseton" is it? The feeling for her is gone and replaced by jealousy--Sally has robust sons now and life in the country. I acknowledge this is tenuous, but thinking of this story in terms of repressed sexuality brings up some interesting interpretations as to the action. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (92 of 103), Read 41 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 12:37 PM I'd thought of this, too, Dan. That incident with Sally Seton is too strong to be ignored. (Altho I confess I hadn't thought of the implications of Peter's name.) I know its a good idea take a novel on its own merits, but I couldn't help thinking about VW's own inclinations in this department. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (93 of 103), Read 38 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 12:53 PM Could someone give us, as Ruth professes, "VW's own inclinations in this department," the department being her sexual preferences? I promise I in no wise intend to inflict an authorial phallacy, but--GOOD GOD! A Freudian pun of monumental proportions! I'll leave it here and quietly go away for a good long time. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (94 of 103), Read 41 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 01:03 PM Phallacy, my word. We are on our toes this morning, aren't we, Dan. VW's sex life was conflicted. Bad experiences with an older step-brother. She's been called asexual, homosexual, bisexual. Married to Leonard Woolf, but had an intense affair with Vita Sackville-West. And we won't even start on Vannessa Bell's (Virginia's sister) household arrangements. Ruth, who loves nothing better than a good pun
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (95 of 103), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 01:21 PM On a lighter note I thought you might all like to see a picture of the benches where Peter encountered Septimus and Rezia and dozed off: This would be on the Broad Walk near the Chester Gate to Regent's Park. I believe the fountain to which Rezia walked, leaving Septimus alone for a time, is over in the Inner Circle. Am I getting obsessed or what? STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (96 of 103), Read 40 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 01:31 PM Steve, why not continue your obsession with the Collected Letters of VW, and the Diaries of VW. The Diaries are comprised of about 5 volumes, of which I can find only vols 4 and 5. In some ways, these were more interesting to me than VW's novels. About 15 years ago, I was obsessed with the whole Bloomsbury scene. I just made a cursory tour of my bookshelves and came up empty, but I read books by and about VW, Vita Sackville-West, Vita's fascinating mother (who wasn't so fascinating that I remember her name!), Nigel Nicholson, and others. What interesting people. Ruth, forming Resolution No. 534---organize those damn bookcases
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (97 of 103), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Jean Keating (jbkeating@home.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 05:48 PM An interesting book which deals with this crowd is Portrait of a Marriage about Vita Sackville West and her husband by their son Nigel(I think) Nicolson. Vita was bisexual as was her husband yet they had a long happy marriage. PBS showed a rather steamy movie several years ago that dealt with the Vita/Virginia affair. Forgot the name of it.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (98 of 103), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 07:13 PM Jean, P of a M, that's one of the Bloomsbury books I own. And there was another about Vita S-W's mother, who, if I remember correctly was a Spanish dancer in Paris before she married, and was quite a character. This was such a fascinating group of people. I can't decide which I'd like to join when I'm reincarnated, the Bloomsbury Group or the group around Gertrude Stein. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (99 of 103), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 08:07 PM I believe the book you are talking about is Lady Sackville by Susan Mary Alsop. Vita Sackville-West, who was the daughter of the 3rd Baron Sackville, was the grand-daughter of Pepita, a Spanish dancer. Vita wrote a book about her called, oddly enough, Pepita. And all those garden books, too. God knows what Mrs. Nicolson ever wrote. And as for Ruth, if she doesn't stop prompting me to these serious memory churnings and excavatings, I'll start hoping she's reincarnated in Rudyard Kipling's circle. Pres, (I should sugar and preserve my days like fruit !)
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (100 of 103), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 08:29 PM I think I own both those books, Pres, and also V S-W's A Joy of Gardening. And now excavate your memory again---did you read the one by Quentin Bell's son? Only Bloomsbury book I've actively disliked. Now back to MRS. DALLOWAY... Ruth,
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (101 of 103), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 08:42 PM Though I have often been fascinated by literary circles, I'm afraid I have never heard of the Bloomsbury group until reading this novel. And aside from Woolf and Forster, I never heard of the others in the group. Looking over my marginalia in my now very tattered copy of Mrs. Dalloway, I came across this passage: But she [Dalloway] could remember going cold with excitement, and doing her hair in a kind of ecstasy (now the old feeling began to come back to her, as she took out her hairpins, laid them on the dressing table, began to do her hair), with the rooks flaunting up and down in the pink evening light, and dressing, and going downstairs, and feeling as she crossed the hall "if it were now to die 'twere now to be most happy." That was her feeling--Othello's feeling, and she felt it, she was convinced, as strongly as Sheakespeare meant Othello to feel it, all because she was coming down to dinner in a white frock to meet Sally Seton!...Then came the most exquisite moment of her whole life passing a stone urn with flowers in it. Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed her on the lips. The whole world might have turned upside down! The others disappeared; there she was alone with Sally. Sorry to quote at length, but this passage confirms in part my earlier argument--even in the present tense of this novel, Clarissa defines Sally's kiss as "the most exquisite moment of her whole life," a life which later includes Richard, Elizabeth, and Social Gatherings. Also note in the passage the idea of death with the line from Othello. I believe this is a strong hint that after this point, Clarissa loses something--but she had the opportunity to truly die happy. Clarissa's feelings of the past are given strong literary treatment at the end of the novel: They [Sally and Peter] would discuss the past. With the two of them (more even than with Richard) she shared her past; the garden; the trees; old Joseph Breitkopf singing Brahms without any voice; the drawing-room wallpaper; the smell of the mats. A part of Sally must always be; Peter must always be. But she must leave them. There were the Bradshaws, whom she disliked. Clarrisa realizes that Peter and Sally are touchstones of a sort for her past experiences, experiences which were more passionate, more powerful, than any 'feelings' she now possesses. Notice how Woolf uses a bit of wry humor to end this passage: Clarissa must turn her back on the very people who mean so much to her because there are people she "dislikes" present. Also, notice that it is the Bradshaws, the one whose callous comments of a recent suicide stop Clarissa cold. And Clarissa reveals that she has thought of suicide often, enough to visualize Septimus' deed easily: Always her body went through it first, when she was told, suddenly, of an accident; her dress flamed, her body burnt. He had thrown himself from a window. Up had flashed the ground; through him, blundering, bruising, went the rusty spikes. There he lay with a thud, thud, thud in his brain, and then a suffocation of blackness. So she saw it...She felt somehow very like him--the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away...He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun. Without definite proof, I believe that Clarissa has thought of suicide often enough and that the final statements is a sort of thank you for Septimus for illustrating physically what she has rehearsed in her mind mentally often enough--death, to just die. But there is beauty, there is fun, even if the "most exquisite" moment is long past. To quote Faulkner, Mrs. Dalloway chooses to "endure." Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (102 of 103), Read 4 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 11:33 PM Dan, Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard Woolf ran Hogarth press. Others of the group included the art critics Roger Fry and Clive Bell, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, E. M. Forster; and the painters Vanessa Bell (Virginia's sister) and Duncan Grant. Vita Sackville-West wrote novels and gardening books. They all hung out and/or lived in the Bloomsbury district of London, hence the name. T. S. Eliot made a few appearances, too. I’ve found a web site that explains some of their tangled relations. http://www.walrus.com/~gibralto/acorn/germ/sisters.html The Bloomsbury Group reacted against the stuffy formality of the Victorian era, both in literature and art. Vanessa Bell’s home at Charleston is a place I’ve wanted to visit for years. Pasted in one of my many daybooks are photos of the interior, with folky-looking handpainted doors, walls, screens, fireplaces. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (103 of 103), Read 2 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, April 08, 2000 11:43 PM Those are interesting observations about the sexuality angle. The way I understand it, Woolf was physically frigid with both men and women. She complained that the sexual abuse she suffered left her unable to enjoy her body. She was clearly attracted to women, however. It seems clear that Clarissa's inclinations lay in the same direction. I'm not so sure Sally would have been a viable option. She did kiss Clarissa on the lips, but she also ended up the happily married mother of 5 sons. Ruth, I agree that Septimus seemed like one raw nerve. However, he repeatedly complains that he is unable to feel. What do you make of this? Ann

Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (104 of 129), Read 64 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 01:53 AM Another note of interest is that Hogarth Press -- that is, Leonard and Virginia were the first publishers of Freud and some of his earliest ideas. I think Hermione Lee's biography is an interesting and thought provoking presentation of this group and of Woolf (the topic subject). And are we thinking about Clarissa in the appropriate time-frame? This is a scant few years after WWI -- I think the societal setting seems so removed that it is difficult to grasp that it was the major portion of women's lives in that time and the period previous to be "at home" or "paying calls" or "doing good works" out in society but for certain levels of people, that never meant going into anything too disturbing or into anyplace too "beneath" them -- this was society and these people lived within that accepted setting. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (105 of 129), Read 65 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 07:37 AM Ruth, Thanks for posting that website about the Bloomsbury group. I just finished The Hours and Cunningham used a lot of the Bloomsbury history as fodder for his novel. I would have never known. Sherry
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (106 of 129), Read 65 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Susan Pardue (ezrabird@aol.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 08:43 AM Clarissa and Richard both appear in VW's first novel THE VOYAGE OUT. Stranded in Lisbon, the Dalloways (who are touring Europe "with a view to broadening Mr. Dalloway's mind" during a session in which he's failed to be elected to Parliament) use their connections to secure passage to the next port on a steamer ultimately bound for South America. The naive young protagonist finds the Dalloways glamorous and intriguing (Richard, by the way, grabs her and kisses her just two chapters after Clarissa has mused over how morally superior her husband happens to be-ha!). But the protagonist's aunt sums up the Dalloways after they've left ship like this: "She was quite nice, but a thimble-pated creature. I never heard such nonsense! Chitter-chatter-chitter-chatter-fish and the Greek alphabet-never listened to a word anyone said - chock-full of idiotic theories about the way to bring up children- I'd far rather talk to him any day. He was pompous, but he did at least understand what was said to him." Clarissa and Richard term the people on board (most scholars) as cranks-"It's what I've always said about literary people- they're far the hardest of any to get on with," Clarissa writes in a letter. VW seems to have a great time with Clarissa, having her dress for dinner ("It matters ever so much more than the soup"), reverse and contradict herself in a matter of moments in order to keep a conversation alive that no one else had any interest in in the first place. Really, I mourned when the Dalloways went ashore. In spite of the ridicule heaped on Clarissa in THE VOYAGE OUT, I don't believe VW revived her and placed her dead center in a later, overwhelmingly better, novel to mock her again, and to present her as a dead soul. She and Septimus may have been intended as twins, but Clarissa pivots away from death while Septimus throws himself upon it. She's in her twilight years, the clock is tolling, her options and roles in life have honed down to almost exclusively that of a hostess, but she has her memories and she's still experiencing moments that reverberate with the beauty and fun of life. And, maybe despite herself, she's managed to keep Sally and Peter as friends. In CAT'S EYE, Margaret Atwood's character's main regret in life is that she doesn't have her childhood friend to share things with now that she's old. Clarissa lacks something, as Sally says, but after her contemplation of Septimus' death and her own less than admirable way of getting through life ("she had schemed; she had pilfered"), she determines to go find Sally and Peter. I find that a positive thing, a turning from the conventional, a liberation of sorts. I think she's going to bloom again.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (107 of 129), Read 67 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Christina Devitt (cdevitt@packer.edu) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 09:22 AM This discussion is so rich and has really brought the novel alive for me -- thanks. I want so much to contribute but I'm afraid my thoughts are still swirling. However, thinking out loud might be apropos in this case... I continue to feel this odd mix of admiration and pity for Clarissa, the former because she seems to know her limitations and the latter because she seems to accept them. Early on, she reflects, "Much rather would she have been one of those people like Richard who did things for themselves..." (an interesting commentary on Richard , too) ..."whereas, she thought, waiting to cross, half the time she did things not simply, not for themselves; but to make people think this or that;" and "Oh if she could have had her life over again! she thought, stepping onto the pavement, could have looked even different!" The "half of the time" seems important to me here. Throughout the novel, I felt like half the time there was a "natural" order to life and the other half expectations, limitations, and order were imposed externally and internally. The curtains against the wind. Also, while I agree that there is this "everything is connected" message in the novel, I also feel an equally strong "we are all so disconnected" message and that moments of connection between people are rare and glorious; too much to expect but a gift to be received and treasured. Christina
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (108 of 129), Read 62 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Janet Mego (vsjego@cs.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 10:56 AM Christina, Well, I wasn't going to participate in this discussion because I haven't read MD (what with crises at work and in other aspects of life, reading for pleasure is alas difficult because of lack of time and/or difficulty in focusing), but I have been reading some of the comments here. I am so envious of those of you who have MADE time to read this book that my excuses above seem somewhat pathetic. Back to Christina and why I'm posting: I found your last comment very moving, and it awakened a memory that I think has inspired me to read this book even if I have to do it sometime after this discussion has ended. I loved TTL when I read it in grad school, and remember vividly a similar sense of the "rare and glorious moments of connection" you've referenced. I was so impressed with Woolf and her "moments" that I wrote my research paper on TTL, and again, have regrets that I missed the discussion on that one because I didn't know about CR then. It's been strange but compelling reading all of the comments without reading MD. But that's typical of Woolf's overall "aura" (?): a strange but compelling woman and writer. Janet, feeling a little sorry for herself, like she's missed the boat more than once, and hoping some of you might be willing to continue this thread at some point in the future.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (109 of 129), Read 65 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 10:59 AM Hi Christina, you're new, aren't you? Welcome to Constant Reader, and thanks for your insightful note. Glad you decided to join the conversation. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (110 of 129), Read 65 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 11:24 AM Welcome, Christina. It has been an interesting thread, hasn't it? I am so glad that you contributed the quotation that you have for it fits in perfectly with our groping toward an understanding of the nature of Clarissa. Pres, I neglected to compliment you on your posting the question of what is meant by "the death of the soul." It was a perfect question, perfectly timed. That is not because anyone here habitually uses the phrase, but simply because phrases such as "death of the soul" and "stifle the soul" are used by Peter and Sally in this novel repeatedly. Dan, if you ever threaten again to leave here and be quiet for a long time, I am going to brain you. Excellent, excellent observations, and I say that not simply because I agree with you. Very well written and documented. (Perhaps the "Peter Pun" was a little "out there" for me, but it was fun to contemplate nonetheless.) I have not derived so much enjoyment from a novel in a long time, Dan. You and everyone here has contributed to that. What a great one this is! The larger part of my enjoyment is undoubtedly for the reason that I mentioned very early in this thread--my easy understanding of Peter Walsh. We are precisely the same age with precisely the same experience. This was reinforced with the description of the party. I myself would have been off to the side with Sally Seton (or Barb Moors) laughing, reminiscing, and commenting on the scene before us, too. The only slight difference is that Peter is more eloquent than I. He thinks, "Villains there must be, and God knows the rascals who get hanged for battering the brains of a girl out in a train do less harm on the whole than Hugh Whitbread and his kindness." Whereas, I would have thought, "That fuckin' idiot is dangerous!" STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (111 of 129), Read 55 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 02:00 PM What an amazing book this is! A simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating read. I finished it early this morning and have just finished reading all your notes. You've created a thread that, in how it reads, is not unlike moving through MRS. DALLOWAY, with its individual impressions/responses to the same event. I think Dan & Steve are on to THE most significant turning point in Clarissa's life -- Clarissa's realization of her love for Sally and "this question of love, this falling in love with women," and her early move in life away from pursuing such strong sexual feelings. As I understand the following, Clarissa appears to know just enough about herself to see this: "She could see what she lacked. It was not beauty; it was not mind. It was something central which permeated; something warm which broke up surfaces and rippled the cold contact of man and woman, or of women together. For THAT she could dimly perceive. She resented it, had a scruple picked up Heaven knows where..." Therefore, because she "resented" this, we have the asexual marriage to Richard. And isn't that part of why she had to stay away from Peter? He wasn't going to hang around while his wife moved her bed up into the attic! The following passage (in addition to being an absolutely amazing piece of writing) seems a good example of the kind of feeling Clarissa has decided to shut out: "It was a sudden revelation, a tinge like a blush which one tried to check and then, as it spread, one yielded to its expansion, and rushed to the farthest verge and there quivered and felt the world come closer, swollen with some astonishing significance, some pressure of rapture, which split its thin skin and gushed and poured with an extraordinary alleviation over the cracks and sores. Then, for that moment, she had seen an illumination; a match burning in a crocus; an inner meaning almost expressed. But the close withdrew; the hard softened. It was over -- the moment." She can only take this level of intensity in small doses, and then, apparently much relieved, she moves on to something much safer. Like planning a party. AND (excuse the poor segue here), because Septimus and Clarissa are supposedly "doubles," the "crocus" passage also strikes me as similar in depth and intensity to the thoughts that Septimus couldn't figure out a way to escape from. That's too much already, but I'm overwhelmed! Sara
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (112 of 129), Read 45 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 02:42 PM Sara- I'm utterly exhausted after Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours. They are mesmerizing, compulsive reads, and my brain is hurting. Kay, who is desperate need of the Monty Python special on A and E tonight.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (113 of 129), Read 43 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 04:04 PM All I can say is this thread will be going for awhile because once we start on The Hours there will be more to say about Mrs. D. and then Pres went over there and set up the overflow thread under Bloomsbury Group or some such -- this is looking like the J.B. and Job (the double Classics Corner read which sprouted about five threads over there on Prodigy including the additional reading of When Bad Things Happen To Good People and The Gnostic Gospels as well as a couple general religion/philosophy threads). Dottie -- who has stopped commenting until she gets through Mrs. D. again using The Hours as a reference during the reread! But I WILL be back! It feels like I haven't read this book at all yet. ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (114 of 129), Read 37 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 05:18 PM I hate to back up again, but I found some interesting "evidence" that supports my theory that Clarissa, throughout Mrs. Dalloway, is actually skirting the quintessential issue of "to be or not to be." In The Hours, Cunningham has Virginia Woolf mulling over the text of Mrs. Dalloway and expressing that, if anything, "Dalloway must die in the end." While I lack the textual evidence to prove this beyond a doubt, there seems an aura about Clarissa that she is deciding between continuing her limited existence with its transitory, ephemeral beauty and just dying, accepting the finality and final communication. While I hate to "guess" authorial intentions, I'm willing to believe that Cunningham culled this early draft idea from Woolf's letters, diary, or even early drafts. And, in the end, perhaps Woolf decided to have Clarissa endure, survive by having another character--poor shell-shocked Septimus--commit the actual deed and have word of it ripple through Dalloway's party at just the right moment so that Clarissa can clarify her thoughts and focus on the important issues. And then we have this hopeful ending--which no one has really commented on: Elizabeth and her father are coming together, Sally sees merit in getting to know Richard, and Peter... "I will come," said Peter, but he sat on for a moment. What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was. Clarissa still stands, still endures as the novel closes. Woolf may have felt having her die was too harsh for her character. Think what a different novel this would have been if Clarissa had committed suicide. We would still be here arguing, only this time we would be arguing "why?" instead of "why not?" Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (115 of 129), Read 40 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 05:23 PM Great notes everyone. You've left me a lot to think about. Christina, welcome to Classics Corner. Judging from the excellent note you wrote, you obviously belong here. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and what you like to read? Susan, in the earlier book about the Dalloways, does it say how Clarissa failed Richard in Constantinople? This failure is mentioned twice in Mrs. D., and I am very curious about what she meant. There are also two references to throwing a shilling into the Serpentine (?) which mystified me. Dan, I agree with you that Clarissa thinks about death a lot, but I don't find any evidence in the novel itself that she is contemplating suicide. I think her recent heart trouble has made death seem much closer. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (116 of 129), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 05:41 PM Ann: Perhaps you are right and I am using extreme language. Clarissa contemplates death and this novel pivots on the fact that she is searching for a reason to continue living. Maybe she doesn't have it in her to take her own life, but her author certainly did. What are we to make of that moment just after hearing of Septimus' death that Clarissa looks out the window and sees the elderly lady across the way preparing for bed? The elderly lady functions as a sort of doppelganger for Clarissa. When the charm has died away, when the flowers are all faded, it will be quiet nights and not parties. And, in a strange way, this doesn't deter Dalloway in the slightest--it is while looking at the effects of age that she decides she enjoys her life and that Septimus made a mistake. Damn this book is just full of potential meanings, n'est-ce pas? Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (117 of 129), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 05:47 PM Dale, I am having an episode of deja vu with regard to that stunning phrase "match in a crocus" from the passage that Sara quoted above. I know we have discussed that or something very like that here before, perhaps in the midst of my first run at Mrs. Dalloway. Maria comes to mind in connection with this, too. Do you have any recollection of our referring to this passage in Constant Reader long ago? Or is there some very similar image from some other work that we spoke of? STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (118 of 129), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 05:55 PM Well, Dan, the passage you quoted just last night wherein Clarissa contemplates the "fun" of Septimus's suicide certainly lends some credence to your "to be or not to be" theory. Also, to hear her tell it, Clarissa would have "perished" were it not for Richard. I don't think one could interpret that as meaning that she would have simply spontaneously withered up and blown away. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (119 of 129), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 06:15 PM Ann, I've been thinking about that question you asked a while back: "Ruth, I agree that Septimus seemed like one raw nerve. However, he repeatedly complains that he is unable to feel. What do you make of this?" And my answer is, I don't know what to make of it. I wrote my characterization of Septimus as "one raw nerve" without referring back to the text. It was just the way he seemed to me. I'd completely forgotten how he kept referring to his inability to feel. This appears to throw my hypothesis into the circular file. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (120 of 129), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 06:28 PM Yeah, I don't know Dan. For me, death permeates this book and you could be right about the suicide. I just don't see Clarissa as strong or desperate enough to do it, but then I could be wrong. Like you, I was very interested to see Woolf in the HOURS book deciding at the outset that Clarissa will die. Steve, when someone dies, it can wake you up and make you appreciate living more. Suddenly your own problems don't seem quite so earth shattering any more. That is how I interpreted Clarissa's comments: "He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun." Ruth, no, no, I think you are absolutely right. It seems to me that Septimus has so many horrible feelings buried just below the surface that he has to repeatedly tell himself that he cannot feel. If he allows himself to acknowledge these feelings he will completely fall apart. And lets face it. He doesn't have far to go. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (121 of 129), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 06:46 PM Doggone it, Ann. You may very well be right there. I had not thought of that interpretation. Oh and Ann, I did note and share you chagrin at our ages, yours and mine, being characterized as "elderly" in this novel. I wonder if you might assure me that for us it is not all over but the shouting--that there is something of life left for us other than the clean-up? It would make me feel so much better. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (122 of 129), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Christina Devitt (cdevitt@packer.edu) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 06:52 PM Ann and everyone, Thank you for letting me barge in and making me feel so welcome. Finding this site was truly fortuitous for me. I had just purchased (and downloaded to my eBook) The Hours and began reading it when I decided I should get to know Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway first (which I bought in paperback). Once I started MD, I found myself missing my alma mater, St. John's College, where every classic we read was mined by many minds. In the meantime, I discovered that a friend and colleague of mine, a high school English teacher at the school where I am currently a computer science teacher, was reading the same books and she suggested that we have some informal discussions about MD and TH, which we have yet to do but we will. Nevertheless, I still wanted to find a discussion group and here you are -- better than I could have imagined! And you're reading the same books! My reading interests are varied -- I'm currently reading Guns, Germs and Steel and The Age of Spiritual Machines along w/ MD and TH. Some of my all time favorite authors are Proust, Joyce and Dostoyevsky. OK -- enough of that, but you asked! More important, I've been thinking more about Clarissa's attitudes about death and found a passage that interested me: "It [referring to Clarrisa's theory about dissatisfaction] ended in a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her scepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places after death...perhaps-perhaps." This fits with the Dan's doppelganger-dame-next-door idea too, I think. Also strikes me as very Proustian. Ann, in one of those paragraphs about the shilling into the Serpentine, when Clarissa learns about the suicide at her party, she thinks about her own life obscuring a thing that mattered, whereas Septimus preserved it...not sure what to make of that paragraph but I'm loving revisiting the text with wonder. So how do I find out more about the others in this group w/out disrupting the thread? Christina (glad I took the plunge)
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (123 of 129), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 07:26 PM Christina, I am familiar with the approach of St. John's College to a liberal arts education, particularly with regard to reading the classics. The place has taken that approach for a long time, as you well know. I simply wished to tell you how envious I am of you for being an alumnus. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (124 of 129), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 07:12 PM Wow, this thread has got to be among the top 10 ever posted on Classics Corner. Each thought that was lurking around in my brain as I read and then finished this book has been addressed and there have been many more that hadn't occurred to me. In all, it has deepened the whole experience immeasurably. This is definitely not a book that can be read a few pages a night before going to sleep. I gave up on that approach and only read it during longer quiet periods on the week-ends. This is only the third book I've read by Virginia Woolf and it's been, by far, my favorite. Does anyone know what the general critical view is? Which ones are seen as her best? And, Steve, I'd love to be off to the side of the party with you observing and commenting. In fact, Sally was definitely the character I felt the most personal connection to in the book. Barb
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (125 of 129), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 07:29 PM Surely it occurred to you did it not, Barb, that Sally Seton was just another 'elderly' hippie? STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (126 of 129), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Susan Pardue (ezrabird@aol.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 07:35 PM Welcome, Christina. We're going to be discussing GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL later this year, so you've certainly come to the right place. Ann, I guess Clarissa's failure at Constantinople is just another string cheese incident--there isn't a mention of it in THE VOYAGE OUT. Teheran is mentioned as a place they'd intended to go to, but disease kept them in Europe. Mention is made of the Dalloways going through manufacturing centers in France, riding mules in Spain to understand how the peasants live. In Lisbon, while Richard met with ministers, Clarissa inspected the royal stables, took snapshots of broken windows, photographed Fielding's grave, and let a caged bird go free. They were on their way to Africa for Richard to inspect guns when they entered the story. Their tour was called "thoroughly unconventional, and followed no meditated plan"-they just went where the Times foreign correspondents told 'em to go. . . Susan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (127 of 129), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 08:08 PM Christina You asked: So how do I find out more about the others in this group w/out disrupting the thread? This is going to be a thread disrupter because it is the easiest way of putting the answer to your question where you are most apt to find it. The alternate (for me) would be to start a new topic in CRSalon entitled something like "Yoo Hoo Christina." To find out about a poster, use the link with her/his name at the head of the message. If you are interested in an off topic chat with someone, consider e-mailing them. Question for you: Which St. Johns College ? There are several - NYC, Annapolis, etc. Further on the subject of thread interrupters: we deplore them and distribute them generously. Those of us whose tidy souls are offended practice "going with the flow" and never remark that it is the perfect way to lose all standards. May you find Constant Reader the wonderful roller coaster ride it is for most of us. Pres, (I should sugar and preserve my days like fruit !)
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (128 of 129), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 08:21 PM I am struck by the great involvement and intensity of this discussion. I think that just saying "great writing" doesn't account for the way in which the book has entered into its readers' lives. One thought is that the writing does not furnish settled facts but, rather, ongoing webs. This is awkward because my thoughts are jumbled. Response ? Pres, (I should sugar and preserve my days like fruit !)
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (129 of 129), Read 7 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, April 09, 2000 10:08 PM Steve, Speaking for myself, I'm not quite ready to kick the bucket yet. This is the second book (Howard's End being the first) we've read on CC this year that refers to someone over 50 as "elderly", and this is starting to effect my self-esteem. According to the baby boomer definition, 50 is just the start of middle age, isn't it? Christina, it is obvious that fate sent you here. Perhaps your teacher friend would like to join us as well. I liked that section you quoted about Clarissa hoping that some part of her will survive after death. I think that she is an atheist and is looking for some kind of comfort as she confronts her own mortality. Susan, thanks so much for the information about the Dalloways in the previous book. They sound quite different from the characters in Mrs. Dalloway. Did you feel like they were really the same people you had encountered earlier? Pres, I like your phrase "ongoing webs." This is a difficult book and one I am sure I never would have read on my own. The very loose ends and obscure connections that used to frustrate me before I found Constant Reader and Classics Corner are the very thing that make this book interesting for a group discussion, aren't they? Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (130 of 137), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 07:54 AM I think Clarissa and Peter are contemplating the lost passions and expectations of youth, and are mourning that loss. They have not found a definitive reason for life, and are frightened there may not actually be one. They fear that they are entirely alone, and though they are still a part of the thread of life, they are wondering if any thing they have said or done will matter in the long run. Their suspicion is that their having lived will not matter one whit long term. And so, all that is left is to grab the moment. Several characters talk about the self deception of youth. The older lady in the park thinks that the girl has a lot to learn. Clarissa looks back on her youthful friendship with Sally and Peter with a smile, yet understands that that time is frozen, never to be repeated. Peter also experiences an "older but wiser now" moment as he is walking towards Clarissa's party. The tone of these remembrances is of tolerance and acceptance that things will never be the same, and that's ok, if a little frightening. What other choice do they have if they don't want to give up the all too rare moments when life overwhelms and just being is all there is? Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (131 of 137), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 09:34 AM Kay -- This hits a nerve relative to VW and her writing of Mrs. D -- this was her book that would be THE book which would be her mark. The other thing is that perhaps this is mid-life angst we are witnessing here on the part of many of these people -- or perhaps the angst of realization that in the society of that time they are all "old" or considered to be old by many if not most of the people in that society. They are having a crisis here -- each in their own way. BUT even more in support of this -- VW herself was in a bit of that same spot -- she is writing at about 40 years of age here -- she is entering the time when the decision to have children is made irrevocably due to her age -- actually they had been told they should not have children but I am not certain if that was before this book was written -- will have to double check that. I just see so many parallels between this book and the characters thoughts and attitudes and those of VW and her own circle that I can't get things separated. BUT I continue to reread this -- will still be back. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (132 of 137), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 10:15 AM In message #126 on 4/9 Susan said: "I guess Clarissa's failure at Constantinople is just another string cheese incident--there isn't a mention of it in THE VOYAGE OUT. Teheran is mentioned as a place they'd intended to go to, but disease kept them in Europe. Mention is made of the Dalloways going through manufacturing centers in France, riding mules in Spain to understand how the peasants live. In Lisbon, while Richard met with ministers, Clarissa inspected the royal stables, took snapshots of broken windows, photographed Fielding's grave, and let a caged bird go free. They were on their way to Africa for Richard to inspect guns when they entered the story. Their tour was called "thoroughly unconventional, and followed no meditated plan"-they just went where the Times foreign correspondents told 'em to go. . ." This rang these bells: VW had a very close relationship (euphemism!) with Vita Sackville-West who was married to Harold Nicolson. Nicolson was an English diplomat and in the early years of his marriage to VS-W he was posted to Teheran and Vita was there with him. I do not know if the timing is right, but it looks to me if VW borrowed some of her friend's background to flesh out Clarissa. Nicolson, by the way, had been part of England's delegation at negotiations at Versailles at the end of WWI. It seems likely also that the diplomats in the book are drawn from VS-W's life and associations though Vita wanted no part of that world. Pres, (I should sugar and preserve my days like fruit !)
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (133 of 137), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 12:54 PM Steve & All: Great thread, indeed. The stunning "match within the crocus" image rang a bell with me too, but I'm blanking out on where else it comes from. The only thing that comes to mind is Dylan Thomas's poem, "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower..." but I don't think that's it. (But the poem is apropros to our mortality topic, I think, so I'll post it below.) I also want to second Ruth's recommendation of Woolf's letters and (especially) diary. The version I read was called Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Diary, I think. In general, diaries and letters and biography are not my favorite reading material, but I've never felt such an eerie, overpowering sense of having known someone who died before I was born as when I read her diary. I went through an obsessive binge, about this time last year, of reading everything by and about VW I could get my hands on. I still recall the diary as supernaturally beautiful and alive. Oh, the poem... THE FORCE THAT THROUGH THE GREEN FUSE DRIVES THE FLOWER By Dylan Thomas The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever. The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks. The hand that whirls the water in the pool Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind Hauls my shroud sail. And I am dumb to tell the hanging man How of my clay is made the hangman's lime. The lips of time leech to the fountain head; Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood Shall calm her sores. And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind How time has ticked a heaven round the stars. And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm. ***** >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (134 of 137), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 05:06 PM Ah yes, Steve, I recognized all of the individual traits, but didn't group them under aging hippie. Actually, these attributes are common to a lot of groups over time, aren't they? The names of the groups just change. Dan, did you ever finish rereading Mrs. Dalloway? I never reread books because I have so much left unread. However, I'm certainly tempted to do this one again after I finish The Hours. So much seems affected by my thought process after finishing it. I want to go back and see what I missed. If you did reread it, are you glad you did? I know there are a myriad of themes in this book. In one of my old literature classes, we would have listed them. However, the main one that I return to again and again is Clarissa Dalloway's reaction to her youth. She sounds so bright and vibrant in her late teens, open to experiences, flirting with a lesbian relationship. At some point, whether it was her relationship with Sally or with Dennis or everything in combination, she becomes afraid of all of her possibilities, of it all churning out of control, and chooses a safe life with Richard. It's a pretty common human situation, but Woolf spins it out showing all the shades of the results of her choice. And, on from there, she looks out the results of other choices: Dennis', Sally's, Hugh's, even Septimus'. And, it doesn't seem to me that she totally condemns or applauds any of them. In the other book about the Dalloways that Susan described, it sounds as if Woolf is making a lot of judgements. I didn't get that feeling here. Though Clarissa Dalloway's life seemed terribly circumscribed, it didn't seem empty. So, do you all think I'm totally off-base about the main theme here? It seems like a number of them have been discussed. Maybe that's another sign of a great book. Barb
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (135 of 137), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 05:28 PM Barbara- You're right. The puzzle in Mrs. Dalloway is figuring what Woolf is trying to tell her reader about life. I think she used Mrs. Dalloway to sort through what matters most in life. Depending on whose mind I'm sharing in any given sentence, I would give a different answer to the question of a philosophy of life. Clarissa thinks one thing, and Peter and Sally another. I had trouble labeling any one voice as representing Woolf. I think their outlooks have to be read as parts of a whole. However, I do think Woolf ultimately favors Clarissa over the others. CR's - What would you say the lesson is? What do you take with you from this novel, besides an intriguing read? An inquiring CR wants to know. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (136 of 137), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 09:32 PM Barb: Yes, I have finished my second reading and highly recommend it. As someone said earlier, you get a better sense of the novel when you are able to grasp the names from the very beginning. I noticed little nuances like Clarissa mentioning Peter before her husband and such. I want to return for a moment to Chris' posted quote concerning Dalloway's sense of a external entity which permeates life. A lot of the characters in this novel feel threads connecting them to others. For Dalloway, it is a fine spider's web connecting. But notice this when Elizabeth leaves Ms. Kilman at the cafe: One had to pay at the desk, Elizabeth said, and went off, drawing out, so Miss Kilman felt, the very entrails in her body, stretching them as she crossed the room, and then, with a final twist, bowing her head very politely, she went. She had gone...Mrs. Dalloway had triumphed. Elizabeth had gone. Beauty had gone, youth had gone. Kilman is the only character within the novel with religion, and she herself is another version of a Mrs. Dalloway: both have a sense of being connected to others (though Kilman is more visceral) and both want to know why do I have to suffer. Mrs. Dalloway muses about suffering early in the novel and Peter offers the suggestion that Clarissa, as a huge fan of Huxley and others, believes that the only way to get back at a hateful God is to be prim, proper, and apathetic. Kilman also wonders why she suffers, but she turns it into a spiritual flagellation. In a sense, are not Kilman and Clarissa two sides of the same coin? How does one answer the question--to please the mind, the soul, and the flesh--of why we suffer? Clarissa through social gatherings; Kilman through fervent prayer and self-abnegation. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (137 of 137), Read 2 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Monday, April 10, 2000 10:48 PM Barb, you are right this book produced one of the longest threads I recall. This is to both my advantage and disadvantage. I got an enormous amount out of reading about half of it and then had to stop. Time was up! I finished the book a few days ago and will once more attempt to sum up my impressions. It has an enormous complexity and at the same time it lacks a plot. The book ex cells in the description of personalities as well as their actions and pathologies. As some of you have noted there is a proximity of death that comes to the fore now and then. In an earlier note I stated I was anxious to learn the ins and outs of the psychiatrist. Well I did and what I learned I did not like. Some people act that way to protect themselves, others are practical and insensitive. By practical I mean they want to make a buck, or should I say a pound any old way. Obviously the book reflects much of VW's life and feeling and especially her ambivalence. Ambivalence and ambiguity are two key terms that came to my mind. These were the reasons that made me think of impressionism. But I may have been very wrong.There is an interconnection between people and their actions. Well the book reflects the turmoil of VW's inner self. And she herself can be found in the portrayal of many of the characters that fill the pages. Well, it's not a book one would read for pleasure as there is a tragic undertone of her writing. What interested me as an ex- military psychologist (Korean conflict) was the dissociation of the ex soldier. (Whose name just now escapes me). The terror of his experiences made him repress feelings. This must have followed seeing his friend Evan getting killed. But he could not live not being whole and eventually chose suicide. After saying all these things I still got more out of this book than of another of Woolf's book (To The Light House). But perhaps I should read the latter over again and see what I get out of it next time. Today got The Hours by Cunningham and am dying of curiosity. Ernie
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (138 of 138), Read 67 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2000 02:05 AM Ernie -- Impressionism as a term was used in relation to some writing of the same or a related time-frame and I think it is apt in regard to Mrs. D -- each mind that we slide through is a point, a stroke , a little bit of the puzzle of life. Dan -- you said ... "How does one answer the question--to please the mind, the soul, and the flesh--of why we suffer?" and that ties right in with the comments of several CRs about the length and depth of this thread -- when this key issue comes to the fore of the discussion the discussion lengthens and deepens and branches. It is humanity under the lens and VW had been working on this study for a few years when she produced Mrs. D. Ernie -- you are so right that VW and her own thoughts and life experiences are permanently interwoven with this character in this book. But in thinking of the psychologists and psychiatrists and what they did or didn't do -- try to keep in mind the relative newness of the field at that point -- early physicians who were quite ethical and intelligent used leeches and bled patients well into the time when newer and better and wiser methods were available -- and this psychiatrist was winding down -- he had settled in and did his "known" thing -- he got results -- and in all honesty -- it was only the delay which led to the death. If they had been more urgent in taking Septimus to the hospital then perhaps the doctor would have had another success story. I had another thought but have lost it out the gray sieve! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (139 of 141), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2000 03:04 PM Ernie, I think Dottie has a point about Bradshaw. One is hard pressed to point to any particular behavior on his part that was probably not within the realm of good practice at the time. Maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt whether the characters did or not. I take it that based on your experience, Virginia Woolf did a fairly decent job of portraying symptoms in Septimus that one might expect in a case of severe combat fatigue or shell shock or whatever the proper name for the condition is? (I do not have my DSM-IV handy.) Severe post-traumatic stress disorder maybe? STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (140 of 141), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2000 03:50 PM I agree. It seemed to me that Bradshaw was acting within what is called "acceptable medical protocols" for his time and place. Perhaps that's why VW's diatribe against him struck me as an authorial intrusion. As if it had more to do with her personal grievances than with the book she was writing. Ruth
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (141 of 141), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2000 05:14 PM I must be missing something here, Steve and Ruth: Bradshaw was a self-assured, pompous ass with a "holier than thou" approach to the cases which came before him. As Clarissa notes--she wouldn't want to betray any human frailty before such a man. He is sterile, clinical and in effect lacks a soul. Maybe Woolf did not like the psychiatrists at the time, but I am not convinced by the text that Dalloway's hatred of his mannerisms is "authorial intrusion." Dalloway just has the same feelings that Rezia had after encountering him. Remember Dalloway has visited Bradshaw's practice with a friend just as Rezia has with her husband. Both are not impressed with Bradshaw's bedside manner. Besides, I feel like that about Zack's pediatrician--I trust his judgements, appreciate his diagnosis, but I absolutely detest the man and would never, ever want him over for dinner. I can see where Dalloway would have similar loathing over Bradshaw. Dan
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (142 of 145), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, April 13, 2000 12:31 PM The way I see this is that it is the 20's and Mrs.D. is a society lady -- at that stage there was still a LOT of stigma about seeking psychiatric help and seeing the doctor in action just showed her what the patients who WERE seeking help were really revealing and what was actually happening with the treatment of mental illness. It wasn't that she was decrying his methodology so much as she was thinking that she was certainly never going to go talk of such things to anyone in the guise of patient/doctor -- and this stems directly from VW and her own feeling about such revelatory exchanges between patient and doctor. ALSO Clarissa has no one to compare him to -- she has only seen what she saw in his office -- and I don't recall but I think it was not very real or definitive of the doctor's real ability -- she doesn't know anything else of the profession as far as I can tell. And the holier than thou pompous ass thing -- well -- maybe he developed that through being famous -- lots of famous folks fall into that trap -- but from where I was reading it sounded like even if he was pompous he sounded like he had some sort of plan for dealing with Septimus -- but it wouldn't wait another day -- so! Dottie -- who had a long battle to get this posted so hope it actually winds up in the right spot! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (143 of 145), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, April 13, 2000 01:07 PM Dottie: Your interpretation of the psychiatrist deal in MRS. DALLOWAY makes a lot of sense to me. Especially in view of the fact that I was struck down by my first acute clinical depression in 1989 B.P. (before Prozac) and desperately spent half an hour spilling my guts (figuratively) to my assigned mental-health professional, i.e. how terrified I was of psychoactive drugs and of psychiatry in general because my father was both codeine-addicted and underwent "shock therapy" in its infancy (1960?) after which time he was a much kinder and gentler dad but a large segment of his brain cells seemed to be gone. This doctor's response, to my extended gut-pouring? "Hey," he shrugged. "Medicine isn't pretty." The Amitryptaline he prescribed most likely saved my life, but until this day, in my dreams, (apologies to Coach Bobby Knight), I still want to get my hands around that SOB's neck. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (144 of 145), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, April 13, 2000 04:53 PM Dale- Some psychiatrists seem more caught up in treating the chemical side of mental illness and depression. They prefer treating the symptoms rather than the cause of the distress. I think Dr. Bradshaw was a symptom treater, and did not have any guidelines or inclination to connect emotionally with Septimus. Emotions are messy. It's cleaner to just throw some meds at a patient, and wait for results. Of course, a combination of the two is most often what is called for. Sounds as if you had the bad luck of crashing into a symptom treater. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (145 of 145), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Thursday, April 13, 2000 05:14 PM Dale, I knew something of your travails in connection with seeking psychiatric help. I have never sought treatment from a psychiatrist, thank goodness, but I did go to a few sessions with a clinical psychologist for a time not too long ago in an attempt to sort out the causes of my chronic difficulties with women. For her part she made a valiant and sensitive attempt at this, but I did not derive too much benefit from her efforts. During my sessions with her I was continually distracted from the subject at hand trying to look up her skirt. STEVE
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (146 of 156), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, April 13, 2000 09:58 PM Dale, My mother was treated by electric shock therapy in an even earlier day when it was a really terrifying experience for the patients because they hadn't figured out how to sedate them first. I have nothing against talk therapy, but I think that it is difficult for people who have no first hand experience with mood disorders to realize how much of the problem is based in biology. The meds aren't just an easy way out. They rectify a chemical imbalance--as you and I both know. The author obviously despised Bradshaw and the other doctor. I didn't think he did anything that objectionable in the text. Sure he was smug and he made a lot of money off his practice because he understood how to deal with the families of the patients. However, the real problem was that he had nothing to offer his patients because medical science hadn't advanced far enough. Incidentally, I just read today that Zoloft, a modern anti-depressant, has been approved for post traumatic stress syndrome. If only Septimus had lived in another age. Ann
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (147 of 156), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, April 13, 2000 10:32 PM Ann- You are right about chemical imbalance being a large part of mood disorders. I did not mean to disparage that as a *part* of a treatment program. I do think that some psychiatrists, like Bradshaw, are more intrigued with the scientific chemical imbalance than dealing with the emotional cause of a disorder. When/if the meds don't do the trick by themselves, and the psychiatrists don't wish to work one to one with the patient, they tend to lose interest. The good ones refer that patient on to someone with the patience to deal with the emotions. Bradshaw was working in a new field, with little to no scientific research to back him up. However, even if he had had access to today's meds and treatments, I do not think he would have had the interest or patience to deal with Septimus' raging emotional life. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (148 of 156), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 02:07 AM On 4/13/00 10:32:12 PM, Kay Dugan wrote> >...Bradshaw was working in a new >field, with little to no >scientific research to back >him up. However, even if he >had had access to today's meds >and treatments, I do not think >he would have had the interest >or patience to deal with >Septimus' raging emotional >life. > >Kay > This is my sticking point on this -- the facts are that things were definitely different in this field at the time. But we cannot know everything about how this man became so acclaimed and cannot judge from what we have presented to us that he might not have at a different moment have seen that delay was wrong -- perhaps even would have acted entirely differently to pursue the hospitalization of Septimus more aggressively. I think his very willingness to get into his patient's raging emotional lives was what made Clarissa shrink from the idea of ever needing to talk to such a man and was the KEY to his very acclaim in the field. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (149 of 156), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 04:43 AM Dottie- Could be, but I think Bradshaw's acclaim was due to not much more than simply being one of the first to specialize in the field of mental health. He and his idiot wife used Septimus' death as an entreé to a conversation at a party, and seemed to relish its shock value. I did not get the sense that he was overly distraught, though he did say he wished he could have helped him. I think he would have recovered nicely by the end of the party. I've sent my copy of Mrs. Dalloway back, but didn't Woolf say something about Bradshaw wanting to keep his wife happy by attending the right parties? I got the impression he was more interested in his seat in Parliament than his practice. I think what really set my teeth on edge was his condescending conversation with Rezia. Good gravy Marie! All Septimus had been doing was resting, and it wasn't helping him one iota. An expensive stay at Bradshaw's retreat wouldn't have helped anything except his pocket book. Kay
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (150 of 156), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 04:56 AM Kay -- I will have to check out the conversations -- they are already faded into the overall aura of the book -- life is interrupting my re-reading of Mrs. D.-- sheesh! -- so I may just start searching out specifics and re-reading those! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (151 of 156), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 08:08 AM Ann & All: Despite the dramatic changes in the field of psychiatry, I'm continually amazed by the arrogance and insensitivity with which otherwise reasonable people approach the subject of mental illness. I've had people tell me that they "don't believe in drugs," and that medicine was "just a way of avoiding the problem." And I've had people tell me that if I "got closer to the Lord and prayed more" I'd soon find medication unnecessary. I know biology is rarely 100% of a problem, but I've seen so many modern-day versions of Septimus who could have been saved by medication that I can't help being an evangelist for the stuff. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (152 of 156), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sara Brennan (se_brennan@hotmail.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 08:16 AM Amen, brother!
Topic: APRIL 2000 BOOK -- MRS. DALLOWAY (153 of 156), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 08:35 AM Dale, I agree with you 100%. Your comments about prayer and mental illness recalled a radio program I heard recently on NPR. It was a story about fundamental Christian religions featured on This American Life. The journalist meets an obviously clinically depressed young woman, who can find no reason in her life to explain her feelings of worthlessness and despair. She is very religious and concludes that her illness is caused by the devil. The solution is to pray even harder. Ann
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (1 of 5), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 08:41 AM Septimus heard voices, had grandiose ideas, suffered from disordered thought patterns, and had recurrent suicidal impulses. This story takes place in the 1920's, and the First World War ended in 1918, so Septimus had obviously been ill for a long time. What's more, his illness had reached a very serious stage. At least Bradshaw recognized the reality of his illness, unlike Dr. Holmes, who kept telling Rezia nothing was wrong with her husband. Hospitalization (the equivalent of Bradshaw's "rest" home) was indicated. Kay could definitely be right that Bradshaw was motivated more by money than concern for Septimus. His rest homes were financially rewarding because he treated people from wealthy families, although Septimus himself was an ordinary working man. Would the suicide have been prevented if Septimus had gone immediately to one of these homes? Possibly. Would that have been a good thing? I'm not so sure. For me, Septimus' life was more tragic than his death. I liked his wife Rezia very much, and I thought she was one of the best drawn characters in the book. Woolf did an excellent job of entering her mind and giving the reader a picture of her contradictory and ever changing feelings. Rezia's lot was a very difficult one. She was only 24 years old, living in a foreign country with a 30 year old mentally disturbed husband whom no one could help. Her loneliness and fear were palpable. If she seemed harsh at the beginning of the novel, even wishing him dead at times, that made her real. Woolf was careful to show that there was also another side to her. She obviously loved her husband. This was evidenced by her distress at Bradshaw's plan to separate them and her joy when Septimus momentarily retreated from his own private world to help her decorate the hat. At the end of the hat incident, Woolf writes: He had become himself then, he had laughed then. They had been alone together. I find that last line very poignant. All and all, Rezia's problems make Clarissa's look pretty pale in comparison, don't you think? Rezia was trying to cope with a seriously ill husband. Clarissa was worried about orchestrating a successful party.
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (2 of 5), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 08:50 AM Note from Mary Anne Papale, copied from first Mrs. Dalloway thread This is my first time here on Classics Corner, but since I love VW, and I love Mrs. D, I just had to plunge in here. I viewed Dr. Bradshaw as the "psychiatrist for the rich and famous". I spend too much time around doctors not to be cynical, but I can say that there are many practioners who develop that air of arrogance, because they have everyone convinced that they are the best. I can certainly imagine VW herself going to "the best" physicians, but running headlong into that arrogance, setting her teeth on edge. As I mentioned, VW's writing does something to me like no other author. I am enveloped. I fully understand what it means to live in the present. I feel like a voyeur into inner thoughts. MAP
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (3 of 5), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 08:56 AM Mary Anne, Glad to see that we have finally lured you here to Classics Corner! I think many doctors suffer from the "God thing," as the pompous doctor on the old Maude TV show used to phrase it. Ann
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (4 of 5), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 09:11 AM Ann: There's also the old joke... Q: What's the difference between doctors and God? A: God never thinks he's a doctor. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (5 of 5), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 10:46 AM You mean all these years I've been asking God to empty the dishwasher? Ruth
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (6 of 6), Read 32 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, April 14, 2000 04:57 PM Ruth -- possibly! Ah, but Ann -- Clarissa is dealing with far more than a party -- she has been ill and is adapting to life with heart problems resulting from the illness, she is dealing with menopausal, mid-life, impending empty-nest and loss (again) of her first love and is also thinking that her husband is being wooed and wined and dined without her included (the scheming lunch about helping Peter to which Clarissa was not invited) -- all as she prepares for an important social event as it turns out -- since the Prime Minister turns up! Rezia seemed to have torn feelings -- about being independent and staying put no matter what and returning home and living with what everyone there would say and think of her return and the reason for that return IF it were to be known. I agree she is one of the better drawn characters and I thought she was definitely a strong woman in comparison to the society women depicted. VW had some close experience with the working class folk -- through teaching some classes for them. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (7 of 13), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Christina Devitt (cdevitt@packer.edu) Date: Saturday, April 22, 2000 11:19 AM During a recent conversation about MRS. DALLOWAY and THE HOURS, my friend the English teacher (I've given her the URL) asked a question that kept us talking for awhile, one which I am still pondering and thought I'd pose here. The question: Aside from the obvious time/place differences, how was TH the same as/different from MD? We both admired TH, but felt it never approached the quality of character development in MD. I felt TH was more of an intellectual exercise, a puzzle. For me, TH was less melancholy, more cynical in tone in comparison to MD.
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (8 of 13), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, April 22, 2000 12:47 PM Christina- I had similar experiences reading MD and TH. In TH, I was so intrigued by Cunningham's attempt to emulate and expound on the themes of MD. For me, I experienced TH from an onlooker's point of view. On the other hand, while I was reading MD, I found myself reading from the inside of the characters. MD was both an intellectual and an emotional reading experience for me. On the whole, I am drawn more to Woolf than Cunningham. MD will stay on my bookshelf, whereas TH is waiting to be traded at our used book store. I am eager to read more Virginia Woolf, but find I can wait to read another Cunningham work. Kay
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (9 of 13), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, April 22, 2000 05:02 PM Christina and Kay -- I think the 'less melancholy/more cynical' statement concerning The Hours could very well hold -- but I think it also would reflect the difference in time periods -- The Hours is set in a later time -- the only related period is the VW section which is the same time as the setting of Mrs Dalloway -- but the fact that one is a fiction of the period and the VW sections are biographically based may blur the similarities enough to nullify this. Interesting, Kay, that you are throwing The Hours into the trade pile -- I will keep it on the shelf next to Mrs. D because I need to let both rest for a long while and then tackle them the other way around from what I did this time. I want to also do some more comparisons -- so both need to hang around a while. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (10 of 13), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, April 22, 2000 05:45 PM Funny, I felt much closer to the characters in TH than MD. I find Woolf's writing much more conscious, much more mannered, so that all the time I'm reading I'm aware of the writer writing. In TH, I was just sucked into the story and the characters. Ruth, always out of step
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (11 of 13), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, April 22, 2000 05:58 PM And then I liked them both, but for different reasons. I wasn't consciously comparing TH to MD; I tried to let it just wash over me, as if I hadn't read MD. When the connections were obvious, they felt very right and unforced. I didn't think the book was morbid at all. Just goes to show how differently we can interpret these things. And that's just wonderful. How boring if we all experienced everything the same. Sherry
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (12 of 13), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, April 22, 2000 09:20 PM Christina, Very interesting observations. Could you elaborate a little on the statement that THE HOURS was more "cynical"? I wouldn't have applied that word to it, but you must have seen something I didn't. Ann
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (13 of 13), Read 2 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Tonya Presley (tpresley@swbell.net) Date: Sunday, April 23, 2000 01:59 AM I didn't read Mrs. Dalloway, but I got some sort of look at all the messages, scanning some and reading more as I copied and pasted them to their web page. And so when I read The Hours, there were a ton of things I'd already seen mentioned in this topic which seemed familiar. There were flowers everywhere. There was a party in the preparation stage. There was the kiss from MD echoed in the VW section (with her sister) and in the middle section (with the neighbor). There was, of course, a suicide. And a lot more. But, I feel your question is in regard to the bigger picture, and as to that I can only say that The Hours had a dreamy quality that I sensed was also there in Mrs. Dalloway. Tonya
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (14 of 15), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Christina Devitt (cdevitt@packer.edu) Date: Sunday, April 23, 2000 07:55 PM Ann, I feel torn between this thread and the CR one about TH, but I decided to post more about TH in CR, probably because to me it seems impossible to read TH without reading MD, but reading MD and not TH seems more plausible so I don't want to tangle this thread. Newbie learning protocol - Christina
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (15 of 15), Read 28 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, April 24, 2000 06:50 AM Christina, I think you can be assured that in much less than ten years Michael Cunningham will be the answer to a literary trivia question. (Who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1999?) Virginia Woolf, who has already endured for a long time, will have a large following for many decades to come. STEVE
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (16 of 17), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Thursday, April 27, 2000 04:13 PM I find it interesting that Peter doesn't seem to fit into the cast of characters that Mrs Woolf presents us. He isn't just a little different, he seems to me to be socially unacceptable. Why do they tolerate him? He doesn't seem to have any social standing; no titles. And someone who plays with a knife at social gatherings; why tolerate it? And the next little excerpt shows Peter wandering the streets of London, following young women. This man has a very, very dark and incipient evil side. Of course the events take place, in one day, so we don't know what happens on day two. I would bet that Peter does some woman in. "… But she's extraordinarily attractive, he thought, as, walking across Trafalgar Square in the direction of the Haymarket, came a young woman who, as she passed Gordon's statue, seemed, Peter Walsh thought (susceptible as he was), to shed veil after veil, until she became the very woman he had always had in mind; young, but stately; merry, but discreet; black, but enchanting. Straightening himself and stealthily fingering his pocket-knife he started after her to follow this woman, this excitement, which seemed even with its back turned to shed on him a light which connected them, which singled him out, as if the random uproar of the traffic had whispered through hollowed hands his name, not Peter, but his private name which he called himself in his own thoughts. "You," she said, only "you," saying it with her white gloves and her shoulders. Then Then the thin long cloak which the wind stirred as she walked past Dent's shop in Cockspur Street blew out with an enveloping kindness, a mournful tenderness, as of arms that would open and take the tired- But she's not married; she's young; quite young, thought Peter, the red carnation he had seen her wear as she came across Trafalgar Square burning again in his eyes and making her lips red. But she waited at the kerbstone. There was a dignity about her. She was not worldly, like Clarissa; not rich, like Clarissa. Was she, he wondered as she moved, respectable? Witty, with a lizard's flickering tongue, he thought (for one must invent, must allow oneself a little diversion), a cool waiting wit, a darting wit; not noisey. She moved; she crossed; he followed her. To embarrass her was the last thing he wished. Still if she stopped he would say "Come and have an ice," he would say, and she would answer, perfectly simply, "Oh yes." But other people got between them in the street, obstructing him, blotting her out. He pursued; she changed. There was colour in her cheeks; mockery in her eyes; he was an adventurer, reckless,, he thought, swift, daring, indeed (damned as he was last night from India) a romantic buccaneer, careless of all these damned proprieties, yellow dressing-gowns, pipes, fishing-rods, in the shop windows; and respectability and evening parties and spruce old men wearing white slips beneath their waistcoats. He was a buccaneer. On and on she went, across Piccadilly, and up Regent Street, ahead of him, her cloak, her gloves, her shoulders combining with the fringes and the laces and the finery and whimsy which dwindled out of the shops on to the pavement, as the light of a lamp goes wavering at the night over hedges and darkness. Laughing and delightful, she had crossed Oxford Street and Great Portland Street and turned down one of the little streets, and now, the great moment was approaching, for now she slackened, opened her bag, and with one look in his direction, but not at him, one look that bade farewell, summed up the whole situation and dismissed it triumphantly, for ever, had fitted her key, opened the door, and gone! Remember my party, sang in his ears. The house was one of those flat red houses with hanging flower-baskets of vague impropriety. It was over. Well, I've had my fun…… " This sure doesn't sound like Mr Nice Guy roaming the London streets. And old Peter, you can be sure has his hand on his knife all the time. Nobody recognizes this guy as dangerous? Why not? Peter is the most incongruous character in the book, to me. Even Septimus is part of the London scene. Peter is a dark, dark character. I would love to get hold of the London Times for the next day, and find out what women had their throats slit. And now that Peter has seen Elizabeth, is she safe? Or is it only Indian (black) women that Peter goes after. The Ripper is back and all that. Another book written about the same time (I think) is DEATH OF A NOBODY. Where Jule Romain shows how a funeral procession affects the various people on its path. It's been so long since I read this that I can only remember the concept is similar. EDD
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (17 of 17), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, April 27, 2000 10:09 PM Isn't that funny, Edd. The way you present him, Peter does indeed sound rather sinister. But when I was reading the book, he was the only character I warmed up to. Ruth, wondering if she should be admitting this
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (18 of 21), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, April 28, 2000 03:07 AM Too funny -- he does sound sinister in this selected portion and the ongoing knife thing -- but I took the knife thing to be an uneasiness with the situation -- social or sexual or whatever in which Peter found himself -- unsure of his place within the society of which he definitely WAS a part as he referred to his falling into his family's connections in India against all his inclinations and feelings about the overall Brit-India scene in those times. That penknife seems to me to be somewhat a phallic symbol here and there in this novel. But -- Ruth -- I agree with your assessment -- I, too, found Peter to be the more accessible and human character in Mrs.D -- interesting. Dottie -- typing one-handed basically due to her first experience of a wonderfully efficient emergency room system in Hasselt after slicing my left thumb open an inch and a half long and about1/8 or so deep at a slight angle. NOT fun but nice to see this system in action. ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (19 of 21), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Friday, April 28, 2000 08:14 AM Edd, I admit to liking Peter, too, but because he was Peter Pan, a little boy type, who never really grew up. I think the passage you quoted could be thought of as sinister, but I looked at it as Peter dreaming again. His head was turned by a pretty face; he was impetuous and romantically hopeful. I think the knife fondling was a nervous habit. He just didn't know what to do with hands. Sherry
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (20 of 21), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, April 28, 2000 08:29 AM And it was a very tiny knife after all. STEVE
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (21 of 21), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Anonymous () Date: Friday, April 28, 2000 08:51 AM Who said so?
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (22 of 24), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, April 29, 2000 08:35 AM I have pondered your note for a couple days, Edd. While it is an interesting interpretation of Peter, I cannot go along with it. Perhaps it is because I so strongly identify with Peter Walsh, as I have said a couple times before. He is precisely my age, and more importantly, for me slipping into his thoughts is like slipping into a fitted glove. I am still convinced that Peter Walsh is a harmless man deep into the second half of his life. (The half-time intermission was over long ago. In fact they're almost ready to cut off the beer sales.) He is relatively bright but has never triumphed vocationally because his head was in the clouds too often. He reads too much. He has a long history of difficulties with women. The little pen knife is just a nervous habit. While admittedly this passage could very well appear in a book about a psycho, in context it is simply the thoughts of an old goof fantasizing about a beautiful and very young woman he happens upon in the street. Take my word for it. I know whereof I speak. STEVE
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (23 of 24), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, April 29, 2000 11:45 AM An old goof who is momentarily suspended between his youth and that gaping hole in the fourth quarter maybe? He was all set to be aloof with Clarissa and fell in love all over again as he always does when he sees her/thinks of her -- he is in love with love but doesn't want anyone since he can't have his dream love. so he goes on dreaming! Dottie -- and men still play with pen knives -- even in social situations -- I have a pen knife story of my own from October -- it isn't a lost bit of culture at all -- i countered by pulling out my replica Barlow(e)! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (24 of 24), Read 6 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, April 30, 2000 09:36 PM And while we're on the subject of stalkers, did anyone notice that Elizabeth, Mrs. Dalloway's daughter, is "stalked" by a "pirate" during her romp on the train? I would write the passage, but I wife is presently reading the book. If I recall correctly, Elizabeth is pleased to get such attention. Shiver me timbers, indeed. Dan
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (26 of 28), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Sunday, May 07, 2000 07:50 PM DAN wrote: "And while we're on the subject of stalkers, did anyone notice that Elizabeth, Mrs.Dalloway's daughter, is "stalked" by a "pirate" during her romp on the train?" It's all the more interesting because Peter refers to himself as a "buccaneer". Either Peter is getting around a whole lot or there's something we're missing. Is it possible that "buccaneer" and "pirate" are slang terms that go right over our heads? The trouble is that most slang has a very short shelf life, and is out of usage before someone thinks to write it down. If that's the case, then I'd vote for these terms to be interchangeable with our "stud" or "hunk". EDD possibly beating a dead rhinoceros, but Peter is scary.
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (27 of 28), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, May 08, 2000 02:28 AM EDD, EDD -- I'm telling you Peter is harmless enough -- he's just a romantic -- and he's been out of the "real" world out there in India for a LONG time -- and he's dreaming about that girl he's come to get things straightened out to marry but isn't sure he wants to marry. And -- think about that penknife some more. Dottie -- thinking about this once more ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: MRS. DALLOWAY, PART II, 4-14-2000 (28 of 28), Read 6 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, May 08, 2000 07:27 AM Edd, you read too many mysteries (G). Always looking at the details and trying to figure out who the bad guy will be. If this were a thriller, then I'm sure Peter would be the one who done it. Sherry

 

 

Virginia Woolf

 
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