There's only one way to explain my most recent selection of reading material: I'm having a masochistic episode.
You know, familiarity of context makes American modernism so much more palatable...Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. 1925. New York: Harcourt, 1981.Summary
: One day in the life of practical Clarissa Dalloway, who has decided to throw a party for no reason at all. Meanwhile, the artistically-minded Septimus commits suicide by throwing himself out the window. Clarissa learns of this tragedy from Septimus' therapist during her party.Comments
: There's enough going on here to fuel a lifetime of discussions and analyses, from the meanings of love, family, war's aftermath, and growing older to the Woolf's modernist stylings. What intrigued me most the first time around was the uxtaposition of the absolutist and dissatisfied Septimus with the Taoist and basically contented Clarissa. Clarissa goes through life without being completely conscious, but to Woolf's mind, this is not a wholly unenviable state. Thus, Septimus' death wakes her up to life so that she can appreciate it in contrast. I especially loved the fluidity of the novel, the way in which the narrative glides from person to person as they walk past each other on the street, for example, like a single shot of film focusing in on one character after another. The absolute ticking of the clock is recurs several times when Big Ben strikes the hour, but within each reframing they experience the same relatively banal day in a myriad of different ways. Some of the auxiliary characters, particularly Sally, who goes from feminist and Clarissa's girlhood homoerotic fixation to moderate wife of five boys, came alive for me, but many others were too dislocated in time and place for me to empathize with directly. The upper class...*stifles a yawn* Anyway, this is the sort of novel you read when you want to impress people with your literariness or otherwise challenge your reading comprehension...'cause in its own right the story is hardly any fun at all.Notes
: trade paperback, movie tie-in with The HoursRating
- An utterly fascinating read if you can stand the style, but not, alas, a strictly entertaining one.