Privileging the inner person, the interior self, Mrs. Dalloway reminds us that what is within is more important and richer than the outer manifestation. What we see is mere set dressing in comparison to our inner life, even from those who, upon first glance, seem the most surface of people. A woman might be mending a dress wishing she could mend a heart.
Thoughts stream into more thoughts. Images bring to mind events from the past, or people long absent.
We see the interconnectedness of everyone, and how our casual observations can be woefully incorrect: a man and woman arguing could be not a harmless disagreement, but a woman trying to pull her husband back from the brink of crippling PTSD.
Those are the overarching themes, swiftly shifting POV’s which lends even more to the sense of one person being all people, all of a piece. And yet also not.
As much as it pains me to say this, I think having read Lighthouse first has forever spoiled me. I enjoyed and greatly admired Mrs. Dalloway, but it’s not Lighthouse. That’s up next. Soon, in the next few days. Read it with me?
In the meantime, here’s a piece I wrote for a creative writing class years ago. It was published by Woolf Zine, which I now believe to be sadly defunct. If you see references to both Mrs. Dalloway and Lighthouse in it, you’re correct, so it ends up being a bit of a bridge between the two novels.
“Looking for Virginia”
“What are you looking for?”
I tip the bookshelf, leaking words onto the puddle of papers, papers, papers that are all that hold me in this house. Answers, answers he will never understand tinge my tongue. “Virginia.”
Now he will dig and delve into the hallowed dalloways of my mind and. He cannot. He crabs my hands with his frigid old man no sympathy hands, hairs on their sides like my stepbrother’s. Stepbrothers. Men with minds to hurt and hands to halt the galloping growth of might haves.
“Leonard, don’t touch me.” The icicle of me uvulas in the word winds. Doctors voodoo a nothing for me.
They loose the mother inside me, the sanity scrap bag; knitting a shawl of should haves I cover the mirror of beauty which is reality but not truth, opened the door that ate my muse.
Mrs. Ramsey will not take it — she dies for beauty. Scarcely is she adjusted…Leonard…did I write that? No?
Words, my waifish children, load empty hobo sacks onto heavy burdened backs and don’t wave. I sing them a lullaby of the crawdad, cavefish, cravefish. Gravefish.
I wanted something once, didn’t I, Leonard? Leonard?
I suck the soul from my sister and knit it to my own, but it always goes home, unknotted by her own lazy susan heart that twirls in the direction of the man with the predilection…
I children my pockets with stones, write my memories goodbye and
Just swim. Go.
Thanks again for joining me on this journey into Mrs. Dalloway! Happy Reading Lighthouse.