You probably notice that until now I have not read too many books from modernist authors; I think my favorite still remains with Victorian or 19th century’s :) Well, to repair that, I’ve decided to participate in Allie’s A Modern March event which invites us to read more modernist books. I picked Mrs. Dalloway for this event, first because I’m curious with the stream of consciousness style, and second because Mrs. Dalloway is believed to be one of Virginia Woolf’s masterpieces. And it’s only 200s pages too! But….what a wrong choice that has been for me!
At first, I am fascinated by the stream of consciousness. It’s something different; it’s like entering someone’s mind and flowing with it. It’s remarkable to realize how human’s mind could contain many different things at a time, how they could hop from one place to another in an instant—and sometimes they don’t have any connections at all. Like I said, it’s fascinating to read the earlier part of the book (my ebook version doesn’t have chapters or parts); however the more I got into the middle part, the more I got bored. It’s nice to watch people’s thoughts sometimes, but it would be overwhelming to do that all the time.
Clarissa Dalloway was a mid-aged woman from a high class society of England. It was around 1923, when England has just passed the war. One clear June morning Clarissa was walking around London’s street to buy flowers for her dinner party at that night. During the walk, her mind wandered around retrieving her old memories. From then on, Woolf brought us to ‘inspect’ several other characters’ mind; among them were Peter Walsh’s—Clarissa’s ex boyfriend, and Kezia Warren Smith’s—wife of a nerve-broken man. They were all judging their past decisions, wondering what would have happened if they took a different path, and what they must do next.
So I was lost in their minds, when every now and then Woolf would switch from one’s mind to another’s without any signs, that made me often being at a loss of whose mind I was at a time. My favorite is Kezia and Septimus Warren Smith. They were out of Clarissa’s radar, thus building their own story about their faith. Septimus was struck by his friend’s death in the war—and perhaps by the war itself—which lead him to a nerve breakdown. When he got his seizure, Septimus believed he was being chased by his death friend’s ghost, and would talk to himself and seemed to lose conscious of his surroundings. Kezia put enormous effort in making Septimus look normal in public, while often felt that Septimus ignored her and did not loved her anymore. I felt pity for Kezia…. No wonder she said: “To love makes one solitary.”
There’s nothing really interesting about Clarissa herself. She mostly argued about her past love life. She was with Peter Walsh for some time and seemed to be a perfect couple, before she met Richard Dalloway. On that particular day, Peter suddenly appeared at her house announcing that he would divorce his present wife to marry an Indian woman. Both Clarissa and Peter were reasoning with themselves whether they’d have been right not to marry each other. Clarissa remembered too how she was fond of her girlfriend Sally Seton, how they had been not only friends, but more intimate than that. Clarissa was thinking about her husband Richard too, how he seemed to be away from her, and she was a bit jealous because a lady had invited Richard to lunch without her.
All in all, Mrs. Dalloway is about uncertainty and a search of life’s meaning and freedom. Clarrisa Dalloway and Septimus both were searching for freedom from the society, but both from different situation. Clarissa was sick of being under criticism of others (that’s why she had broken up with Peter Walsh), and she longed to have privacy, that she chose to sleep in an attic room in her house. Septimus sought for freedom for a deeper purpose. He was treated inhumanly by his neurologists; the so-called Professors and experts forced him to take this medication and that kind of treatment, but forgot to treat him with the more humane touch. They treated him as merely a sick patient, but failed to see that what he needed most is love and care. They thought that keeping him alone in an asylum would be the best cure, whereas people like Septimus should have mingled with society who would treat him like a normal man. They should have treated him as a friend, put trust on him. I’m not a doctor, but I believe it will make him feel better.
Two and a half stars for Mrs. Dalloway, because I didn’t enjoy it as a whole, though I still found a treasured value behind it, which add the half star there.
I read ebook version from Feedbooks
This book is counted for:
5th book for The Well-Educated Mind Self Project
my WEM inquiries post for this book
3rd book for Turning of the Century Salon
8th book for What’s In A Name Challenge 2013
4th book for New Authors Reading Challenge 2013
37th book for The Classics Club