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Pickle Me This

June 8, 2006

Mrs. Dalloway

I just finished re-reading Mrs Dalloway. I started it last on May 17 2000 (which I only know because I wrote the date inside the cover) and there were no found objects inside, but on Pg 59 I had written “Your prism grasp” in red ink, which was a piece of a poem I once had. I have a recollection of having read part of this book on Toronto Island, but I could just be making that up. And when I read this book then, six years ago, I found it extremely hard going. I read it because it was Mrs Dalloway, so of course I was supposed to read it, but I must confess to not having enjoyed it. I had read To the Lighthouse previously, in fact I studied it in classes for three of my four years at university, and I appreciated that book, but tackling Mrs. Dalloway on my own was perhaps too ambitious. (This is very embarrassing, but the truth). The text was so dense and wobbly, full of twists and turns and I didn’t concentrate enough to follow. I didn’t really get it, to be frank. So I can say that I had read Mrs. Dalloway, to the extent that I had turned the pages to the end, but I was hardly captured. This time was different. First, in my course “Virginia Woolf: Essays and Short Fiction”, I learned how to read Woolf, for I feel there is a knack required for it. I’ve become more familiar with Woolf’s own concerns, socially and aesthetically, which does have a bearing on this work. And of course, because I am re-reading, I am reading far more carefully than I usually do, already aware of the ending so not needing to charge through to uncover it. Attentive enough to follow all the twists and turns, but oh the prize you get for doing just that! Mrs. Dalloway is a love song to London, a story about being, about getting old and who you love. The entire spectrum of human experience, caught- if that could be thought possible. This, my friends, is a book.

2 thoughts on “Mrs. Dalloway”

  1. PatrickMH says:

    I’m not sure that I’ve ever liked reading a book I failed to like the first time I read it. I think, for me, it’d be about coming to like “someone” whose company I first thought unpleasant. If this has occured (and it really must have, mustn’t it?), it’s occured so rarely that no instance of such comes to mind.

  2. Kerry says:

    But sometimes you can dislike something because you’re the problem. I was aware that this was the case all along.

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