Posts Tagged ‘Mrs. Dalloway’

In August of 1923 Virginia Woolf was in the middle of writing the novel that would eventually be published in 1925 under the title Mrs. Dalloway. After writing in her diary that she was “battling for ever so long” with the novel — tentatively titled The Hours — on the following day, she spelled out the stream of consciousness technique she planned to use in her groundbreaking work.

In this oft-quoted passage written on Aug. 30, 1923, she describes the process as digging out “beautiful caves” behind her characters. This is what she wrote:

You see, I’m thinking furiously about Reading & Writing. I have no time to describe my plans. I should say a good deal about The Hours, & my discovery; how I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters; I think that gives exactly what I want; humanity, humour, depth. The idea is that the caves shall connect, & each comes to daylight at the present moment — Dinner! –Diary 2, 263.

Later in the year, on Oct. 15, she describes the process a bit differently:

It took me a year’s groping to discover what I call my tunnelling process, by which I tell the past by installments, as I have need of it. – A Writer’s Diary, 60.


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One hundred years ago today, on Saturday, 29 August 1923, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary about the novel she was writing. Originally titled The Hours, it would be published in 1925 as Mrs. Dalloway.

I’ve been battling for ever so long with ‘The Hours’, which is proving one of my most tantalising & refractory of books. Parts are so bad, parts so good; I’m much interested; can’t stop making it up yet — yet. What is the matter with it? But I want to freshen myself, not deaden myself, so will say no more. Only I must note this odd symptom; a conviction that I shall go on, see it through, because it interests me to write it. — Diary 2, 262.

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Editor’s Note: Salon organizers have added two readings to the homework list. They are in boldface below.

What a month! First, the 31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf and Ecologies. Then Dalloway Day. Now, an invitation. Mrs. Dalloway wants to keep the party going and requests the honor of your company at 2 pm. ET Friday, July 28, at Woolf Salon No. 25: Party Time.

Invite your friends! All are welcome.

The details

Hosts: Salon Conspirators
Day: Friday, 28 July 2023
Time: 2–4 p.m. EDT (New York) / 11 a.m.–1 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles) / 3–5 p.m. Brasilia / 7–9 p.m. BST (London) / 8–10 p.m. CEST (Paris) / 9–11 p.m. Ankara / 3 a.m –5 a.m. Sat 7/29 JST (Tokyo) / 4 a.m –6 a.m  Sat 7/29 AEST (Sydney)
Homework: Mrs. Dalloway’s Party

The readings

This 25th installment of the Salon Project will focus on the short stories posthumously collected in Mrs. Dalloway’s Party (1973). They are:

  • “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” (Collected Short Fiction, pp. 152–59; online)
  • “The Man Who Loved His Kind” (CSF, pp. 195–200; HH, pp. 96–101)
  • “A Simple Melody” (CSF, pp. 201–07)
  • “The Introduction” (CSF, pp. 184–88)
  • “Ancestors” (CSF, pp. 181–83)
  • “Together and Apart” (CSF, pp. 189–94; HH, pp. 115–20)
  • “The New Dress” (CSF, pp. 170–77; HH, pp. 43–51)
  • “Happiness” (CSF, pp. 178–80)
  • “A Summing Up” (CSF, pp. 208–11; HH, pp. 121–24)

The event will be recorded for members of the International Virginia Woolf Society.

How to join the Salon

Anyone can join the Salon group, which usually meets on one Friday of each month via Zoom and focuses on a single topic or text. Just contact woolfsalonproject@gmail.com to sign up for the email list and receive the Zoom link.

Background on the Salon

The Salon Conspirators — Benjamin Hagen, Shilo McGiff, Amy Smith, and Drew Shannon — began the Woolf Salon Project in July 2020 to provide opportunities for conversation and conviviality among Woolf-interested scholars, students, and common readers during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This month marks the 100th anniversary of Clarissa Dalloway’s walk through London to “buy the flowers herself.” So it seems appropriate to share two related podcasts from Literature Cambridge’s “Virginia Woolf Podcast” with Dr. Karina Jakubowicz.

Mrs. Dalloway’s party paper dolls

  1. The first, “Mrs. Dalloway’s Party,” is a 27-minute podcast about the mysterious painting by Vanessa Bell that was exhibited in 1922 and disappeared until British art dealer Anthony d’Offay offered it in 1983 from the estate of Virginia Woolf.  In it, Karina speaks with the painting’s owner, Howard Ginsberg, and the bestselling author of Bloomsbury Pie, Regina Marler, as she thinks about paintings and parties in 1920s Bloomsbury. Give it a listen. You can also see an image of the painting at the above link.
  2. The second, “Professor Dame Gillian Beer on Mrs, Dalloway,” is an actual lecture by Professor Dame Gillian Beer titled, “For There She Was: Love and Presence in Mrs. Dalloway.” It times out at 26 minutes. You can listen to it online as well.

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If you missed the Metropolitan Opera’s live performances of “The Hours” and didn’t catch it when it was shown live or recorded at your local theater, you still have a chance to watch it — right in the comfort of your own living room.

The much-lauded new opera will be the premiere episode of the 17th season of Great Performances at the Met on PBS. The first airing will be Friday, March 17, at 9 p.m. ET. In my area, it will also air Sunday, March 19, at 5 p.m. and Tuesday, March 21, at 8 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard.

Viewers in the U.S.A. can check local listings for the broadcast schedule of their PBS affiliate in their area.

The sold-out opera event of the year

“The Hours” played to sold-out audiences during its run at New York’s Lincoln Center from Nov. 22 through Dec. 15, 2022.

PBS Newshour called it, “The opera event of the year.” A Variety review claimed, “it’s Woolf who’ll make you swoon.”

Composer Kevin Puts adapted the opera from Michael Cunningham’s 1998 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel and the 2002 Academy Award-winning film by librettist Greg Pierce.

Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925), it stars Renée Fleming alongside Tony winner Kelli O’Hara and opera star Joyce DiDonato. Phelim McDermott directs the production with Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting. Christine Baranski hosts.

Get ready with reviews, synopsis, program

The opera uses Woolf’s and Cunningham’s prose as a departure point from which to explore the novels’ ambiguities and fluidities that are heightened further by musical expression, according to the PBS website.

You can read more rave reviews from critics, prepare for the performance by reading a synopsis, and download a program.


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