Friday, December 28, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 31 (Virginia Woolf)

Mrs. Dalloway
Woolf, Virginia
Mrs. Dalloway

I am not sure where I bought this, but apparently I got it for a dollar. This is not the copy I read in college, which I lost a long time ago. It's the copy I bought for Lori, who read it a few years ago, along with several other of Woolf's novels.

I have a memory that has been confused by changes in technology. The memory is this. I read this book in college and loved it. A friend, S., began reading Woolf after college. Maybe it wasn't this book. Perhaps it was To The Lighthouse or The Waves.

I had a bad habit of getting excited about books and spoiling the plots for friends. I'd started to do this with S. about a book by Woolf. It may have been this one. He read the book later in the summer. I have a memory of being on a subway train in Manhattan, talking to S. about Mrs. Dalloway.

Here comes the strange part.

At some point I received and unexpected phone call from S. He said, "so and so just died," thank you for not spoiling the book for me. Now, my memory of this event has been refigured by changes in telephone technology.This would have taken place in the early nineties, easily ten years before I ever touched a cellphone, and yet I want to say that I was alone on a train when I received this mysterious phone call from S.

C'est impossible, but there it is.

from Mrs. Dalloway

What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said, “Musing among the vegetables?”— was that it? —“I prefer men to cauliflowers”— was that it? He must have said it at breakfast one morning when she had gone out on to the terrace — Peter Walsh. He would be back from India one of these days, June or July, she forgot which, for his letters were awfully dull; it was his sayings one remembered; his eyes, his pocket-knife, his smile, his grumpiness and, when millions of things had utterly vanished — how strange it was! — a few sayings like this about cabbages.

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