17 May 2023

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Such are the visions. The solitary traveller is soon beyond the wood;
and there, coming to the door with shaded eyes, possibly to look for his
return, with hands raised, with white apron blowing, is an elderly wo-
man who seems (so powerful is this infirmity) to seek, over a desert, a
lost son; to search for a rider destroyed; to be the figure of the mother
whose sons have been killed in the battles of the world. So, as the solitary
traveller advances down the village street where the women stand knit-
ting and the men dig in the garden, the evening seems ominous; the fig-
ures still; as if some august fate, known to them, awaited without fear,
were about to sweep them into complete annihilation.
Indoors among ordinary things, the cupboard, the table, the window-
sill with its geraniums, suddenly the outline of the landlady, bending to
remove the cloth, becomes soft with light, an adorable emblem which
only the recollection of cold human contacts forbids us to embrace. She
takes the marmalade; she shuts it in the cupboard.
"There is nothing more to-night, sir?"
But to whom does the solitary traveller make reply?
So the elderly nurse knitted over the sleeping baby in Regent's Park.
So Peter Walsh snored.
He woke with extreme suddenness, saying to himself, "The death of
the soul."
"Lord, Lord!" he said to himself out loud, stretching and opening his
eyes. "The death of the soul." The words attached themselves to some
scene, to some room, to some past he had been dreaming of. It became
clearer; the scene, the room, the past he had been dreaming of.
It was at Bourton that summer, early in the 'nineties, when he was so
passionately in love with Clarissa. There were a great many people there,
laughing and talking, sitting round a table after tea and the room was
bathed in yellow light and full of cigarette smoke. They were talking
about a man who had married his housemaid, one of the neighbouring
squires, he had forgotten his name. He had married his housemaid, and
she had been brought to Bourton to call—an awful visit it had been. She
was absurdly over-dressed, "like a cockatoo," Clarissa had said, imitating
her, and she never stopped talking. On and on she went, on and on.
Clarissa imitated her. Then somebody said—Sally Seton it was—did it
make any real difference to one's feelings to know that before they'd
married she had had a baby? (In those days, in mixed company, it was a
bold thing to say.) He could see Clarissa now, turning bright pink; some-
how contracting; and saying, "Oh, I shall never be able to speak to her again!" Whereupon the whole party sitting round the tea-table seemed to
wobble. It was very uncomfortable.
He hadn't blamed her for minding the fact, since in those days a girl
brought up as she was, knew nothing, but it was her manner that an-
noyed him; timid; hard; something arrogant; unimaginative; prudish.
"The death of the soul." He had said that instinctively, ticketing the mo-
ment as he used to do—the death of her soul.
Every one wobbled; every one seemed to bow, as she spoke, and then
to stand up different. He could see Sally Seton, like a child who has been
in mischief, leaning forward, rather flushed, wanting to talk, but afraid,
and Clarissa did frighten people. (She was Clarissa's greatest friend, al-
ways about the place, totally unlike her, an attractive creature, hand-
some, dark, with the reputation in those days of great daring and he
used to give her cigars, which she smoked in her bedroom. She had
either been engaged to somebody or quarrelled with her family and old
Parry disliked them both equally, which was a great bond.) Then
Clarissa, still with an air of being offended with them all, got up, made
some excuse, and went off, alone. As she opened the door, in came that
great shaggy dog which ran after sheep. She flung herself upon him,
went into raptures. It was as if she said to Peter—it was all aimed at him,
he knew—"I know you thought me absurd about that woman just now;
but see how extraordinarily sympathetic I am; see how I love my Rob!"
They had always this queer power of communicating without words.
She knew directly he criticised her. Then she would do something quite
obvious to defend herself, like this fuss with the dog—but it never took
him in, he always saw through Clarissa. Not that he said anything, of
course; just sat looking glum. It was the way their quarrels often began.
She shut the door. At once he became extremely depressed. It all
seemed useless—going on being in love; going on quarrelling; going on
making it up, and he wandered off alone, among outhouses, stables,
looking at the horses. (The place was quite a humble one; the Parrys
were never very well off; but there were always grooms and stable-boys
about—Clarissa loved riding—and an old coachman—what was his
name?—an old nurse, old Moody, old Goody, some such name they
called her, whom one was taken to visit in a little room with lots of pho-
tographs, lots of bird-cages.)
It was an awful evening! He grew more and more gloomy, not about
that only; about everything. And he couldn't see her; couldn't explain to
her; couldn't have it out. There were always people about—she'd go on
as if nothing had happened. That was the devilish part of her—this coldness, this woodenness, something very profound in her, which he
had felt again this morning talking to her; an impenetrability. Yet
Heaven knows he loved her. She had some queer power of fiddling on
one's nerves, turning one's nerves to fiddle-strings, yes.
He had gone in to dinner rather late, from some idiotic idea of making
himself felt, and had sat down by old Miss Parry—Aunt Helena—Mr.
Parry's sister, who was supposed to preside. There she sat in her white
Cashmere shawl, with her head against the window—a formidable old
lady, but kind to him, for he had found her some rare flower, and she
was a great botanist, marching off in thick boots with a black collecting-
box slung between her shoulders. He sat down beside her, and couldn't
speak. Everything seemed to race past him; he just sat there, eating. And
then half-way through dinner he made himself look across at Clarissa for
the first time. She was talking to a young man on her right. He had a
sudden revelation. "She will marry that man," he said to himself. He
didn't even know his name.
For of course it was that afternoon, that very afternoon, that Dalloway
had come over; and Clarissa called him "Wickham"; that was the begin-
ning of it all. Somebody had brought him over; and Clarissa got his
name wrong. She introduced him to everybody as Wickham. At last he
said "My name is Dalloway!"—that was his first view of Richard—a fair
young man, rather awkward, sitting on a deck-chair, and blurting out
"My name is Dalloway!" Sally got hold of it; always after that she called
him "My name is Dalloway!"
He was a prey to revelations at that time. This one—that she would
marry Dalloway—was blinding—overwhelming at the moment. There
was a sort of—how could he put it?—a sort of ease in her manner to him;
something maternal; something gentle. They were talking about politics.
All through dinner he tried to hear what they were saying.
Afterwards he could remember standing by old Miss Parry's chair in
the drawing-room. Clarissa came up, with her perfect manners, like a
real hostess, and wanted to introduce him to some one—spoke as if they
had never met before, which enraged him. Yet even then he admired her
for it. He admired her courage; her social instinct; he admired her power
of carrying things through. "The perfect hostess," he said to her,
whereupon she winced all over. But he meant her to feel it. He would
have done anything to hurt her after seeing her with Dalloway. So she
left him. And he had a feeling that they were all gathered together in a
conspiracy against him—laughing and talking—behind his back. There
he stood by Miss Parry's chair as though he had been cut out of wood, he talking about wild flowers. Never, never had he suffered so infernally!
He must have forgotten even to pretend to listen; at last he woke up; he
saw Miss Parry looking rather disturbed, rather indignant, with her
prominent eyes fixed. He almost cried out that he couldn't attend be-
cause he was in Hell! People began going out of the room. He heard
them talking about fetching cloaks; about its being cold on the water,
and so on. They were going boating on the lake by moonlight—one of
Sally's mad ideas. He could hear her describing the moon. And they all
went out. He was left quite alone.
"Don't you want to go with them?" said Aunt Helena—old Miss
Parry!—she had guessed. And he turned round and there was Clarissa
again. She had come back to fetch him. He was overcome by her gener-
osity—her goodness.
"Come along," she said. "They're waiting." He had never felt so happy
in the whole of his life! Without a word they made it up. They walked
down to the lake. He had twenty minutes of perfect happiness. Her
voice, her laugh, her dress (something floating, white, crimson), her spir-
it, her adventurousness; she made them all disembark and explore the is-
land; she startled a hen; she laughed; she sang. And all the time, he knew
perfectly well, Dalloway was falling in love with her; she was falling in
love with Dalloway; but it didn't seem to matter. Nothing mattered.
They sat on the ground and talked—he and Clarissa. They went in and
out of each other's minds without any effort. And then in a second it was
over. He said to himself as they were getting into the boat, "She will
marry that man," dully, without any resentment; but it was an obvious
thing. Dalloway would marry Clarissa.
Dalloway rowed them in. He said nothing. But somehow as they
watched him start, jumping on to his bicycle to ride twenty miles
through the woods, wobbling off down the drive, waving his hand and
disappearing, he obviously did feel, instinctively, tremendously,
strongly, all that; the night; the romance; Clarissa. He deserved to have
For himself, he was absurd. His demands upon Clarissa (he could see
it now) were absurd. He asked impossible things. He made terrible
scenes. She would have accepted him still, perhaps, if he had been less
absurd. Sally thought so. She wrote him all that summer long letters;
how they had talked of him; how she had praised him, how Clarissa
burst into tears! It was an extraordinary summer—all letters, scenes, tele-
grams—arriving at Bourton early in the morning, hanging about till the
servants were up; appalling tête-à-têtes with old Mr. Parry at breakfast; Aunt Helena formidable but kind; Sally sweeping him off for talks in the
vegetable garden; Clarissa in bed with headaches.
The final scene, the terrible scene which he believed had mattered
more than anything in the whole of his life (it might be an exaggera-
tion—but still so it did seem now) happened at three o'clock in the after-
noon of a very hot day. It was a trifle that led up to it—Sally at lunch
saying something about Dalloway, and calling him "My name is Dallo-
way"; whereupon Clarissa suddenly stiffened, coloured, in a way she
had, and rapped out sharply, "We've had enough of that feeble joke."
That was all; but for him it was precisely as if she had said, "I'm only
amusing myself with you; I've an understanding with Richard Dallo-
way." So he took it. He had not slept for nights. "It's got to be finished
one way or the other," he said to himself. He sent a note to her by Sally
asking her to meet him by the fountain at three. "Something very import-
ant has happened," he scribbled at the end of it.
The fountain was in the middle of a little shrubbery, far from the
house, with shrubs and trees all round it. There she came, even before
the time, and they stood with the fountain between them, the spout (it
was broken) dribbling water incessantly. How sights fix themselves
upon the mind! For example, the vivid green moss.
She did not move. "Tell me the truth, tell me the truth," he kept on say-
ing. He felt as if his forehead would burst. She seemed contracted, petri-
fied. She did not move. "Tell me the truth," he repeated, when suddenly
that old man Breitkopf popped his head in carrying the Times; stared at
them; gaped; and went away. They neither of them moved. "Tell me the
truth," he repeated. He felt that he was grinding against something phys-
ically hard; she was unyielding. She was like iron, like flint, rigid up the
backbone. And when she said, "It's no use. It's no use. This is the
end"—after he had spoken for hours, it seemed, with the tears running
down his cheeks—it was as if she had hit him in the face. She turned, she
left him, went away.
"Clarissa!" he cried. "Clarissa!" But she never came back. It was over.
He went away that night. He never saw her again.
It was awful, he cried, awful, awful!
Still, the sun was hot. Still, one got over things. Still, life had a way of
adding day to day. Still, he thought, yawning and beginning to take no-
tice—Regent's Park had changed very little since he was a boy, except for
the squirrels—still, presumably there were compensations—when little
Elise Mitchell, who had been picking up pebbles to add to the pebble collection which she and her brother were making on the nursery man-
telpiece, plumped her handful down on the nurse's knee and scudded
off again full tilt into a lady's legs. Peter Walsh laughed out.
But Lucrezia Warren Smith was saying to herself, It's wicked; why
should I suffer? she was asking, as she walked down the broad path. No;
I can't stand it any longer, she was saying, having left Septimus, who
wasn't Septimus any longer, to say hard, cruel, wicked things, to talk to
himself, to talk to a dead man, on the seat over there; when the child ran
full tilt into her, fell flat, and burst out crying.
That was comforting rather. She stood her upright, dusted her frock,
kissed her.
But for herself she had done nothing wrong; she had loved Septimus;
she had been happy; she had had a beautiful home, and there her sisters
lived still, making hats. Why should she suffer?
The child ran straight back to its nurse, and Rezia saw her scolded,
comforted, taken up by the nurse who put down her knitting, and the
kind-looking man gave her his watch to blow open to comfort her—but
why should she be exposed? Why not left in Milan? Why tortured? Why?
Slightly waved by tears the broad path, the nurse, the man in grey, the
perambulator, rose and fell before her eyes. To be rocked by this malig-
nant torturer was her lot. But why? She was like a bird sheltering under
the thin hollow of a leaf, who blinks at the sun when the leaf moves;
starts at the crack of a dry twig. She was exposed; she was surrounded
by the enormous trees, vast clouds of an indifferent world, exposed; tor-
tured; and why should she suffer? Why?
She frowned; she stamped her foot. She must go back again to Sep-
timus since it was almost time for them to be going to Sir William Brad-
shaw. She must go back and tell him, go back to him sitting there on the
green chair under the tree, talking to himself, or to that dead man Evans,
whom she had only seen once for a moment in the shop. He had seemed
a nice quiet man; a great friend of Septimus's, and he had been killed in
the War. But such things happen to every one. Every one has friends
who were killed in the War. Every one gives up something when they
marry. She had given up her home. She had come to live here, in this aw-
ful city. But Septimus let himself think about horrible things, as she
could too, if she tried. He had grown stranger and stranger. He said
people were talking behind the bedroom walls. Mrs. Filmer thought it
odd. He saw things too—he had seen an old woman's head in the middle
of a fern. Yet he could be happy when he chose. They went to Hampton
Court on top of a bus, and they were perfectly happy. All the little red and yellow flowers were out on the grass, like floating lamps he said,
and talked and chattered and laughed, making up stories. Suddenly he
said, "Now we will kill ourselves," when they were standing by the river,
and he looked at it with a look which she had seen in his eyes when a
train went by, or an omnibus—a look as if something fascinated him;
and she felt he was going from her and she caught him by the arm. But
going home he was perfectly quiet—perfectly reasonable. He would ar-
gue with her about killing themselves; and explain how wicked people
were; how he could see them making up lies as they passed in the street.
He knew all their thoughts, he said; he knew everything. He knew the
meaning of the world, he said.
Then when they got back he could hardly walk. He lay on the sofa and
made her hold his hand to prevent him from falling down, down, he
cried, into the flames! and saw faces laughing at him, calling him hor-
rible disgusting names, from the walls, and hands pointing round the
screen. Yet they were quite alone. But he began to talk aloud, answering
people, arguing, laughing, crying, getting very excited and making her
write things down. Perfect nonsense it was; about death; about Miss Isa-
bel Pole. She could stand it no longer. She would go back.
She was close to him now, could see him staring at the sky, muttering,
clasping his hands. Yet Dr. Holmes said there was nothing the matter
with him. What then had happened—why had he gone, then, why, when
she sat by him, did he start, frown at her, move away, and point at her
hand, take her hand, look at it terrified?
Was it that she had taken off her wedding ring? "My hand has grown
so thin," she said. "I have put it in my purse," she told him.
He dropped her hand. Their marriage was over, he thought, with
agony, with relief. The rope was cut; he mounted; he was free, as it was
decreed that he, Septimus, the lord of men, should be free; alone (since
his wife had thrown away her wedding ring; since she had left him), he,
Septimus, was alone, called forth in advance of the mass of men to hear
the truth, to learn the meaning, which now at last, after all the toils of
civilisation—Greeks, Romans, Shakespeare, Darwin, and now him-
self—was to be given whole to… . "To whom?" he asked aloud. "To the
Prime Minister," the voices which rustled above his head replied. The su-
preme secret must be told to the Cabinet; first that trees are alive; next
there is no crime; next love, universal love, he muttered, gasping, trem-
bling, painfully drawing out these profound truths which needed, so
deep were they, so difficult, an immense effort to speak out, but the
world was entirely changed by them for ever.
No crime; love; he repeated, fumbling for his card and pencil, when a
Skye terrier snuffed his trousers and he started in an agony of fear. It
was turning into a man! He could not watch it happen! It was horrible,
terrible to see a dog become a man! At once the dog trotted away.
Heaven was divinely merciful, infinitely benignant. It spared him,
pardoned his weakness. But what was the scientific explanation (for one
must be scientific above all things)? Why could he see through bodies,
see into the future, when dogs will become men? It was the heat wave
presumably, operating upon a brain made sensitive by eons of evolution.
Scientifically speaking, the flesh was melted off the world. His body was
macerated until only the nerve fibres were left. It was spread like a veil
upon a rock.
He lay back in his chair, exhausted but upheld. He lay resting, waiting,
before he again interpreted, with effort, with agony, to mankind. He lay
very high, on the back of the world. The earth thrilled beneath him. Red
flowers grew through his flesh; their stiff leaves rustled by his head.
Music began clanging against the rocks up here. It is a motor horn down
in the street, he muttered; but up here it cannoned from rock to rock, di-
vided, met in shocks of sound which rose in smooth columns (that music
should be visible was a discovery) and became an anthem, an anthem
twined round now by a shepherd boy's piping (That's an old man play-
ing a penny whistle by the public-house, he muttered) which, as the boy
stood still came bubbling from his pipe, and then, as he climbed higher,
made its exquisite plaint while the traffic passed beneath. This boy's
elegy is played among the traffic, thought Septimus. Now he withdraws
up into the snows, and roses hang about him—the thick red roses which
grow on my bedroom wall, he reminded himself. The music stopped. He
has his penny, he reasoned it out, and has gone on to the next public-
But he himself remained high on his rock, like a drowned sailor on a
rock. I leant over the edge of the boat and fell down, he thought. I went
under the sea. I have been dead, and yet am now alive, but let me rest
still; he begged (he was talking to himself again—it was awful, awful!);
and as, before waking, the voices of birds and the sound of wheels chime
and chatter in a queer harmony, grow louder and louder and the sleeper
feels himself drawing to the shores of life, so he felt himself drawing to-
wards life, the sun growing hotter, cries sounding louder, something tre-
mendous about to happen.
He had only to open his eyes; but a weight was on them; a fear. He
strained; he pushed; he looked; he saw Regent's Park before him. Long streamers of sunlight fawned at his feet. The trees waved, brandished.
We welcome, the world seemed to say; we accept; we create. Beauty, the
world seemed to say. And as if to prove it (scientifically) wherever he
looked at the houses, at the railings, at the antelopes stretching over the
palings, beauty sprang instantly. To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of
air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving,
flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with per-
fect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and
the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft
gold in pure good temper; and now and again some chime (it might be a
motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks—all of this, calm and
reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth
now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere.
"It is time," said Rezia.
The word "time" split its husk; poured its riches over him; and from
his lips fell like shells, like shavings from a plane, without his making
them, hard, white, imperishable words, and flew to attach themselves to
their places in an ode to Time; an immortal ode to Time. He sang. Evans
answered from behind the tree. The dead were in Thessaly, Evans sang,
among the orchids. There they waited till the War was over, and now the
dead, now Evans himself—
"For God's sake don't come!" Septimus cried out. For he could not look
upon the dead.
But the branches parted. A man in grey was actually walking towards
them. It was Evans! But no mud was on him; no wounds; he was not
changed. I must tell the whole world, Septimus cried, raising his hand
(as the dead man in the grey suit came nearer), raising his hand like
some colossal figure who has lamented the fate of man for ages in the
desert alone with his hands pressed to his forehead, furrows of despair
on his cheeks, and now sees light on the desert's edge which broadens
and strikes the iron-black figure (and Septimus half rose from his chair),
and with legions of men prostrate behind him he, the giant mourner, re-
ceives for one moment on his face the whole—
"But I am so unhappy, Septimus," said Rezia trying to make him sit
The millions lamented; for ages they had sorrowed. He would turn
round, he would tell them in a few moments, only a few moments more,
of this relief, of this joy, of this astonishing revelation—
"The time, Septimus," Rezia repeated. "What is the time?"

Mrs. Dalloway
Mrs. Dalloway is a novel by Virginia Woolf published on 14 May 1925. It details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional upper-class woman in post-First World War England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels.


11 May 2023

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. For Lucy had her work cut out for her. The doors would be taken off their hinges; Rumpelmayer's men were coming. And then, thought Clarissa Dallow



16 May 2023

Septimus Warren Smith, who found himself unable to pass, heard him. Septimus Warren Smith, aged about thirty, pale-faced, beak-nosed, wearing brown shoes and a shabby overcoat, with hazel eyes which h



16 May 2023

"Fear no more," said Clarissa. Fear no more the heat o' the sun; for the shock of Lady Bruton asking Richard to lunch without her made the mo- ment in which she had stood shiver, as a plant on the riv



17 May 2023

"Richard's very well. Richard's at a Committee," said Clarissa. And she opened her scissors, and said, did he mind her just finishing what she was doing to her dress, for they had a party that night?



17 May 2023

Such are the visions. The solitary traveller is soon beyond the wood; and there, coming to the door with shaded eyes, possibly to look for his return, with hands raised, with white apron blowing, is a



17 May 2023

He was talking, he was starting, this man must notice him. He was looking at them. "I will tell you the time," said Septimus, very slowly, very drowsily, smiling mysteriously. As he sat smiling at the



17 May 2023

Septimus was one of the first to volunteer. He went to France to save an England which consisted almost entirely of Shakespeare's plays and Miss Isabel Pole in a green dress walking in a square. There



23 May 2023

He could not remember it. "I—I—" Septimus stammered. "Try to think as little about yourself as possible," said Sir William kindly. Really, he was not fit to be about. Was there anything else they wish



23 May 2023

"I should like to see Mr. Dubonnet," said Hugh in his curt worldly way. It appeared that this Dubonnet had the measurements of Mrs. Whitbread's neck, or, more strangely still, knew her views upon Span


Part -10

23 May 2023

Volubly, troublously, the late clock sounded, coming in on the wake of Big Ben, with its lap full of trifles. Beaten up, broken up by the assault of carriages, the brutality of vans, the eager advance


Part-11- The Final Part.

23 May 2023

Sitting at little tables round vases, dressed or not dressed, with their shawls and bags laid beside them, with their air of false composure, for they were not used to so many courses at dinner, and c