What was once a huge innovation in fiction a century ago has become commonplace, the way people write novels now.
Still, as a writer who is not a novelist, I’m continually amazed when writers pull it off. I’m back at editing Mrs. Dalloway again, hoping that my sabbatical next spring will afford me the chance to bring this process to a conclusion.
This time through, I was struck by this lovely, eery shift in point of view from the opening pages, when all the characters look up to see a skywriter:
So, thought Septimus, looking up, they are signalling to me…Tears ran down his cheeks.Woolf wanted to show “the world seen by the sane & the insane side by side” (Diary, 14 October 1922) and in this tiny moment, in which an advertisement is both a secret signal and a lure to all with a sweet tooth, does just that.
It was toffee; they were advertising toffee…