Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More on Mrs Dalloway

I am slowly but steadily making my way through Mrs Dalloway, trying to savour every moment of it. I am continually blown away by the writing. It is so dense and rich and beautiful.

I love that the action all takes place on a single day, but that the simple moments contained in that day inspire such interesting and complex memories and reflections. Woolf captures how the mind works, flitting rapidly between different emotions and thoughts.

A powerful moment occurs when Peter Walsh visits Clarissa at her home and a spark of their former relationship is reignited:
And Clarissa had leant forward, taken his hand, drawn him to her, kissed him, - actually had felt his face on hers before she could down the brandishing of silver-flashing plumes like pampas grass in a tropical gale in her breast, which, subsiding, left her holding his hand, patting his knee, and feeling as she sat back extraordinarily at her ease with him and light-hearted, all in a clap it came over her, If I had married him, this gaiety would have been mine all day!
Aren't those 'silver-flashing plumes' just perfect? And, although it's a bit of a technical point, I can't help but notice how this passage is all one sentence, and yet it flows beautifully. Woolf certainly knows how to use punctuation effectively. But most of all this passage is wonderful because of the way it captures a feeling of regret, regret that is both sweet and painful.

A moment later the scene is over, the connection broken, and the day continues...

5 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Oh, I love that novel. Yes, that's a beautiful sentence.

meli said...

Poor Mrs D.

verbivore said...

I also love this novel - thanks for posting on it. Such wonderful writing. I can never pick a favorite Virginia Woolf, can you?

jess said...

I am just properly rediscovering Woolf, so I'm not qualified to choose a favourite. Something about Mrs Dalloway really appeals to me more than the other novels do though.

LK said...

Dense and rich -- this is how I feel reading Woolf. I have to read very slowly, it's like eating a very rich dessert.