A Comment on Mrs. Dalloway


Last Saturday my book group had its most satisfying discussion (about a book) in quite some time. We spent nearly two hours just walking through Mrs. Dalloway in an attempt to understand everything from the title of the novel to why time dissolves in leaden circles. Here then, composed before the discussion, is my attempt to make sense of the novel.

Clarissa and Septimus--Giving Time Meaning

Brought together
in the dissolving leaden circles of the hour
she learns to be, spring green,
and he learns not to be before
a leaden grey car crouched in the drive
and haunted by spectres of previous trips.
As the hour sounds, time
and all its boundaries dissolve
so what were separate actions
now become all one
and grey and green and male
and female, all have meaning
in the limpid light that
sometimes spreads
in the ripples of lead.

There, could it be any more clear?

And I add for what it is worth, the following excerpt from my journal of reading:

"One of Woolf's themes in Mrs. Dalloway is how time is measured and becomes variously interpreted, especially when simultaneous actions are seen in gentle correspondence. She began to put her fingers upon time's pulse and see that while clocks and chronometers hack and split time, human actions give it profound meaning. There's a human need to measure what cannot truly be measured."

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 4, 2009 7:16 AM.

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