Saturday, 23 May 2009

Remembrance Of Things Past

Have finished Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

What a beautifully crafted and palpably poignant novel. The sadness and wistful feelings of almost all of the characters felt incredibly real - and prescient, even though the novel was written in 1925; the world-weary post-war feeling resonates even today.

Clarissa, Peter, Rezia (and even Sally, to a certain extent, even though she is the most outwardly confident and seemingly happy about her current life) all ponder on what could have been, and what is. Woolf is writing of her time, when social restrictions were just that - restrictions - and one couldn't do as one really desired.

I feel that Woolf was also incredibly brave to write about a subject that was still (at that time) much debated and misunderstood - shell shock. The character of Septimus suffers profoundly from this condition (having survived World War I), and is completely misdiagnosed by his pompous doctor. His wife Rezia knows that her husband has never been well, and desperately wants him to be so, but loves him enough to know that the doctor doesn't always know best. Septimus's trains of thought throughout the novel are incredibly touching, and give an insight into how countless other young men like him must have felt - and how they were summarily dealt with as if they weren't ill.

The structure of the novel was also quite beautiful - the reader is allowed to dip in and out of these characters' lives as an independent observer, but when allowed to observe, sees the depth of emotion in each character and how they touch others around them.

Sigh. More, please.

Up next: Have already started Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.


  1. Yay! Mrs. Dalloway is great! But haven't you read it--this was the second time, yes? My roommates and I almost watched The Hours last night. The movie makes me appreciate the novel more--and that's a rare thing.

  2. No, I've read Orlando. I'm sadly lacking in my Virginia Woolf knowledge...the list also has To The Lighthouse on it, which I will read when I can find it. :)