Friday, January 15, 2010
Oh, Mrs. Dalloway. You were at times exactly what I expected, and at times something completely different. I signed up for the Woolf in Winter read-a-long, the first of which is hosted by Sarah, because Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse have been languishing on my shelves for years. I'm not really into the modernists, so they could sit there for years and years more before I actually read them, so I thought this might spur me along.
I was surprised at how readable Mrs. Dalloway is. I don't enjoy stream of consciousness, but it made this a fairly quick read. I still get annoyed by the modernists though. All that art-for-art's sake and snobbiness and if you prefer the traditional stuff you must not really be that intelligent attitude. Just not my cup of tea. But, Mrs. Dalloway was still somehow better than I thought it would be.
I did think it was sad though, which is interesting because I took a sneak peek at Eva's post and she seems to go the opposite direction as I do. It will be interesting to see what everyone else has to say, which I'll check out after posting this. I feel sorry for Clarissa. I don't think she really loves her husband, or anything about her life. I don't think she's miserable, or even unhappy exactly, but you just get the feeling she just settled when marrying Richard. He could provide her with a comfortable life. I don't think she was meant to be with Peter; I'm not saying that, but I don't think she's in love with Richard either, which is sad. She lives her life for her silly little parties, because they are the only thing that makes her feel alive. That's just depressing. I still somehow enjoyed her story though. It reminded me a little of Wharton in some odd way, just written in a very different style. I guess it was the rich character who married more for convenience that for love.
On the other hand, I did not enjoy the Septimus story at all, mainly for personal reasons. SPOILER ALERT****************************
It's very hard for me to read about, or watch something about, suicide. A friend of mine committed suicide exactly 10 years ago today. I always react badly when an unanticipated suicide occurs in something I'm reading or watching, but the timing was especially bad this time. I will never understand how someone can reach that point, be so selfish that they do that, so weak. I know there are plenty of reasons people give for ending it all, and that there are physical problems that can lead to mental health issues, but I just can't understand it. For Septimus, it makes me so angry because he has this wife who loves him, wants to start a family with him, wants to help him get better, and he just spits in her face. I hurt for her, and especially because just before it happens she talks about how no one can separate them, she won't let the doctors take him away from her, but then he takes himself away from her. I still carry anger and regrets over what happened 10 years ago, and I can't imagine how one would recover from a spouse (or a parent or a child) committing suicide. So, that part of the book was difficult for me to read, although I get that Woolf was using him as a sort of symbol of the world as a whole being meaningless, life being meaningless, which again just made the book rather depressing for me. I don't regret reading it though, and I will read more of her works, so I'm glad I read it.