Mrs. Dalloway

Purchased yesterday afternoon with a Barnes and Noble gift card from a student received Idon’trememberwhen. I haven’t time to read it of course and of course I’ve read it before. But I opened it last night before closing my eyes and treated myself to just a few pages (just a few), waiting to hear Big Ben strike, the leaden circles dissolving in the air. Funny how it’s something like that one carries with one, years after reading a book. Those leaden cirles, dissolving, dissolving. How apt, Virginia. How apt.

But of course Virginia is apt. And flawless. And I want to be reading this book, and reading it. And writing.

And of course I am not. Today I am teaching and tonight I am helping my darling girl (who has been so very sick for a week) to do a little of her make-up work, for tomorrow she’ll be back in school. And tonight I am making dinner and doing dishes and working hard on my drama class. Tonight I am postponing grading papers and feeling very tired and going to bed any minute. Honestly I am.

But I’ll have Virginia with me, and maybe I’ll open it again and hear those leaden circles and listen again as they dissolve. The chimes from Big Ben dissolve daily in those pages, whether or not I’m listening. And then there are passages like this one, passages I’ve read before and forgotten all about, so that I am rediscovering them at eleven p.m. on a school night. Listen:

For they might be parted for hundreds of years, she and Peter; she never wrote a letter and his were dry sticks; but suddenly it would come over her. If he were with me now what would he say?– some days, some sights bringing him back to her calmly, without the old bitterness; which perhaps was the reward of having cared for people; they came back in the middle of St. James’s Park on a fine morning– indeed they did.

One thought on “Mrs. Dalloway

  1. So glad you’ve picked it up again, Rebecca! I’ll be following your lead in a couple weeks when I begin teaching it to both undergrads and grad students.I love how the “leaden circles dissolving in air” captures not only the sound’s texture but illustrates a central tension in so much of Woolf’s work–the struggle to make tangible and lasting what is inherently ephemeral: individual moments of Time.


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