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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   Meeting 'Mrs. Dalloway' (160 comments)

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  •  When my reading friend and I (4+ / 0-)
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    Radiowalla, Brecht, suka, RiveroftheWest

    read Mrs. Dalloway several years ago, somehow we came away with the impression (and I don't know if this is original or if we read it somewhere) that the story was about death. Mrs. D. planned her day to take her mind off the inevitable ending of her life, and everywhere she went in London on that day, every corner she turned, there was Death staring at her; must be like touristing around Seattle with Rainier staring at you in every scene. Septimus, of course, had a closer encounter with Death.

    The movie The Hours makes this clearer with the three connected stories of Mrs. D (where the AIDS patient dives out the window) and Virginia Woolf (who suicided in 1941 with stones in her pockets). The other story, the beautiful young mother who was totally disconnected but unable to kill herself, only to return decades later as an old hag (well-dressed old hag) kinda rounds out the possibilities in life.

    I believe the movie clarifies some of the themes of the original novel without being a rehash of the story; and let's not forget that Michael Cunningham won the Pulitzer for his novel before the movie was made.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong about all of this and I am ready to be corrected--that's the only way we learn.  

    "You can observe a lot just by watching." ~ Yogi Berra

    by dandy lion on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 09:29:36 AM PST

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    •  I'm always ready to pontificate pompously on books (1+ / 0-)
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      RiveroftheWest

      this doesn't mean I'm correct, or able to correct you. Some of my opinions ring true; some of them I just made up.

      I don't know the book or movie of The Hours.

      I don't think, of Mrs. Dalloway, "that the story was about death"; but it's shot through with death. Several times characters notice that they're past the middle of life, or are approaching death. I believe in an earlier draft, Clarissa died at the end; then Septimus spun out of her, and the two are twinned in some psychic way. And it's important that, while Clarissa resents gauche guests who talk about death at her party, she also fully absorbs and accepts Septimus's tragic end.

      It looks to me like Clarissa and Septimus embody Virginia's simultaneous upward and downward reactions to her brother's death in WWI, and her own dark inner fears and sensitivity. They're like two matched particles, one pointing towards joy, the other towards despair.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 01:20:48 PM PST

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