Some Woolfian Comments on Mrs. Dalloway


Updated July 7, 1997
Created July 7, 1997

(taken from A Writer's Diary)

14 October 1922--Mrs. Dalloway has branched into a book; and I adumbrate 
here a study of insanity and suicide; the world seen by the sane and the 
insane side by side--something like that.  Septimus Smith? is that a good 
name?

30 August 1923--I have no time to describe my plans.  I should say a good 
deal about The Hours [which became Mrs. Dalloway], and my discovery: how 
I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters:  I think that gives 
exactly what I want; humanity, humor, depth.  The idea is that the caves
shall connect and each come to daylight at the present moment.


15 October 1923óI am stuffed with ideas for it. I feel I can use up 
everything Iíve ever thought.  Certainly, Iím less coerced than Iíve yet 
been.  The doubtful point is, I think, the character of Mrs. Dalloway.  
It may be too stiff, too glittering and tinselly.  But then I can bring 
innumerable other characters to her support.  I wrote the 100th page 
today.  Of course, I've only been feeling my way into it--up fill last 
August anyhow.  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.  This is my prime discovery so far.


19 June 1923--I want to give life and death, sanity and  insanity; 
I want to criticize the social system, and to show it at work at its most 
intense. . . .    Am I writing The Hours from deep emotion?  Of course the
mad part tries me so much, makes my mind squirt so badly that I can hardly
face spending the next weeks at it.  It's a question though of these 
characters.  People, like Arnold Bennett say I can't create, or didn't in 
Jacobís Room, characters that survive.  My answer is--but I leave that to 
the Nation; its only the old argument that character is dissipated into 
shreds now; the old post-Dostoievsky argument.  I daresay it's true, 
however, that I havenít that "reality" gift.  I insubstantise, wilfully to
some extent, distrusing reality--its cheapness.  But to get further.  Have
I the power of conveying the true reality?  Or do I write essays about 
myself?

  Back to Virginia Woolf Seminar Home Page