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Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway

July 29, 2007
Even though the plot includes one day that starts with Mrs. Dalloway planning a party and ends at the close of that party, there are so many other profound characters, perhaps even more interesting than Mrs. Dalloway that it makes the title misleading, lacking even. For instance, Peter Walsh’s consciousness who is supposedly loosely identified as E.M. Forester encompasses much of the book’s dialogue. I had thought for some reason that Forester was gay. However, one of Walsh’s life sufferings is Clarissa’s rejection to his marriage proposal.

A note in the listed ‘Chronology’ of Woolf, troubles me. It says “1928, Orlando is published. Virginia offers to give evidence at the trial for obscenity of Radclyffe Hall’s lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness.” Give evidence to whom, the prosecutor or for Hall’s defense? Because it is my understanding that Woolf’s Orlando has lesbian undertones or is perhaps about a lesbian relationship. Therefore, it would be interesting to see if Woolf was supportive of Hall or hypocritical of her sexuality.

If Mrs. Dalloway is a representation of Woolf as the book’s introduction suggests, Woolf keeps her doppelganger humble even with all the snobbery, superficially, and tinsel-ness that Mrs. Dalloway projects. At times, even though Mrs. Dalloway is grand, Walsh’s character and Dalloway’s antagonist, Miss Kilman (somewhat identified as Woolf’s real life rival Katherine Mansfield) tend to overshadow her. Moreover, the suicidal World War I veteran Septimus Warren Smith and his young Italian wife, Lucrezia adds an opposing existence to Clarissa Dalloway’s.Anyone who views the movie The Hours and reaches the conclusion that he or she knows the book Mrs. Dalloway will be disappointed. Woolf had pondered entitling her book “The Hours” and initially meant for it to be a short story called, “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street.” Nevertheless, the only similarities in the movie The Hours and in the book Mrs. Dalloway are, it all takes place in a day and a Clarissa is planning a party.What I find so refreshing and what I envy very much in Mrs. Dalloway is one’s ability to travel around the city unperturbed. In the book there is Regent Park, Bond Street, the Westminster District, Saint Paul’s and many more landmarks that I am now forgetting. It seems divine. Hopefully it is not too picturesque to be true. All the American cities that I know of are too divided. There are literally one to two block sections scattered about that are “off limits” or too fragmented and architecturally inconsistent to maintain an uninterrupted ambiance.

7 Comments
  1. Professor Zero permalink
    July 29, 2007 7:23 am

    I thought Forster was gay, too. I need to reread Mrs. Dalloway. Orlando is I think billed as being about androgyny but maybe that is just a way of being respectable. I read it and yes, there are major lesbian undertones and a lesbian relationship or the representation of one (veiled because technically the character has shifted genders).

    I wonder about the city. Wouldn’t it have to have had some urban blight lurking about, somewhere? Maybe Absorbant will have some info…

  2. Absorbant permalink
    July 29, 2007 8:34 am

    Queen Victoria was famously amazed that “Lesbians” exist: there is nothing attractive about women! All this and absolutely nothing to say about her darling Husband’s kinks.

  3. Kitty Glendower permalink
    July 29, 2007 8:43 am

    Do tell, what kinks did Albert have. I always seem to read stuff that suggest he was a prude.

  4. Absorbant permalink
    July 29, 2007 3:34 pm

    Well, its about a piercing he apparently favoured. I only know about “A Prince Albert” because I grew up with a bunch of punky freaks!
    I just don’t know why people get into stuff like that, but its quite cool really (not teally).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Albert_piercing

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special%3ASearch&search=prince+albert+%28piercing%29&fulltext=Search&=MediaWiki+search

  5. Dewey permalink
    July 30, 2007 8:38 pm

    I enjoyed this post, as this is one of my favorite books (and so is The Hours) but I’m wondering why Forester is one of the tags. The only thing coming to mind is that you maybe think Forester wrote The Hours? That was Michael Cunningham. If I’m just missing something, sorry!

  6. Kitty Glendower permalink
    July 30, 2007 8:48 pm

    According to the introduction, Peter Walsh (a character in Mrs. Dalloway) is supposedly loosely identified as E.M. Forester.

  7. Professor Zero permalink
    July 31, 2007 7:33 am

    Prince Albert with that piercing? How wild!!! I had no idea…

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