Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.
– Night and Day
In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jungle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.
I learned today from The Writer’s Almanac that today is Virginia Woolf’s birthday. The above is a line from Mrs. Dalloway which, beyond being beautiful in and of itself, says much about Woolf’s take on life. Her take is a capital-M Modernist one, informed by ideas of kinetic and potential energy, which is that just about everything has potential to be important, important in a soulful, poetic, spirited way. More specifically each thing has the potential to become a piece of art, and each piece of art has the potential for epiphany trapped within it. The book Mrs. Dalloway is nothing but epiphany – that is, a series of epiphanies, or “moments” as Woolf liked to call them. The book is all insight – hardly anything happens in it that is not inside Mrs. Dalloway’s mind. Some readers find this frustrating, some find it a wonderful freedom from the confines of plot. I fall into the latter category. So I encourage people to read Mrs. Dalloway and all things Woolf and celebrate her life and her work.