ReadingsWoolf, Virginia (1925). Mrs. Dalloway. New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
A mistresspiece of internal monologue. The reader gets to eavesdrop on the conversations that Clarissa Dalloway and her acquaintances imagine but dare not or know not how to speak. This is a subtler and wittier X-ray than Orwell's of the anxieties of the lower middle, middle middle and upper middle classes, groping for a new normality after the trauma of the Great European War. Septimus Warren Smith, the war hero driven mad by that war, and his obtuse but self-assured doctors symbolize a whole eddy of misunderstandings, while Clarissa submerges her doubts by organizing a party where the guests make no gesture without calculating the impression they might create on others. I thank the makers of the movie "The Hours" for getting me to engage in this delicious read.
More fiction commentary, including a recent note on Stephen Crane, is available here.