Brief Reflection on Mrs. Dalloway
Those long, meandering sentences; voice as sharp as a struck bell; masterful use of narrative space to convey the passage of time, Mrs. Dalloway introduced me to lyrical novels. After reading it, I saw how a novel could be more than just events strung together through cause and effect relationships, rising action, culminating in a climax, then a denouement where everything was tied up neatly at the end. I began to see novel writing as experiment, eschewing linear progression for downward and inward movement. I began to see how one could explore the psychic depths of a single individual. I began to see how the novel could be both artistically meaningful and socially aware.
While reading it, I was unsure what the story was about and after finishing it, then reading it again, then again, I realized that the novel bared its themes like fangs poised in a mist of evocative language--class struggle of rich vs. middle class vs. poor, fame and obscurity, visibility and invisibility, life and death, time and space, thought and feeling, all caught and spun in the web of language from a writer in complete command of her powers. As a stream of consciousness novel it remains by far one of my favorite and most important books.