Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Draft footnote of the day: Elizabeth's profession

205:28-206:1 every profession is open to the women of your generation Cf. the added remark in Notebook 2: “her father said of course if she wanted to go to college she might; & her mother m finally agreed” (Notebook 2 89; H 228). 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Draft footnote of the day: She was at her worst

252.6 “How delightful to see you!” In her 1919 essay, “The Royal Academy,” Woolf describes an unidentified portrait of a woman in full evening dress: “She stands at the top of a staircase… about to greet someone of distinction who advances towards her up the stairs. Not a hair is out of place. Her lips are just parted. She is about to say, ‘How nice of you to come!’” (E 3.89).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sport and fashion

Heretofore, the best and most thorough set of footnotes to an edition of Mrs. Dalloway is, without a doubt, the Oxford paperback. I am grateful to it, have profited often from the editor’s insights, and hope that my work is a worthy successor to his. I’m particularly grateful for all the notes about the game of cricket. However, his priorities strike me forcibly in light of Woolf’s comment about cultural priorities surrounding sports and fashion in A Room of One’s Own:
Speaking crudely, football and sport and ‘important’; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes ‘trivial.’ And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room. (128)
So, my edition of Mrs. Dalloway will include footnotes on cricket, sure. It will also be the first edition to elaborate on the meaning of “court dress,” Lady Bradshaw’s attire in the portrait that hangs in Dr. Bradshaw’s office.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Re-reading Hope Mirrlees’ 1920 Paris. There’s a section that simply documents advertisements in the Paris of 1919. One heartbreaking one: DEUIL EN 24 HEURES. Literally, “mourning in 24 hours,” which wouldn’t be a pun in English but simply a service. In a time and place where almost every woman was in mourning, there’s a service to dye your clothes black.
About a mile from my house, on the Newark border, is a t-shirt and skate shop. One of their specialties? R.I.P.s. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Draft footnote of the day: Mallarme

20.22 throw of the dice Clarissa’s musings echo the title of (but resist the sentiment expressed in) Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem, “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (A Dice Throw At Any Time Never Will Abolish Chance.”) Mallarmé (1842-1896) died almost unknown and a definitive edition of his poem was not published until 1913. For a discussion of Mallarmé’s influence on Hope Mirlees as well as Mirrlees’ importance to Woolf, see Briggs (in Scott) 267 ff. Roger Fry would translate Mallarmé in 1936. The Woolfs had both the 1913 French edition of Mallarmé’s works and the later Fry translation in their library. The typographically experimental poem opens with an image that juxtaposes the chance of a dice throw with a shipwreck: “A THROW OF THE DICE / AT ANY TIME / EVEN WHEN CAST IN  / EVERYLASTING CIRCUMSTANCES / FROM THE DEPTH OF A SHIPWRECK” (1-5).
I couldn't have predicted this one.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Draft Textual Note of the day

Another piece of this project, other than footnotes, are the textual notes—not allusions but notes on significant changes among versions of Mrs. Dalloway. I’m hacking away at a few of those today, comparing The Hours notebooks (available, delightfully, in a fantastic transcription from Helen Wussow), against the final draft. Since the notebooks are available as a book, since I’m not trying to present a complete genetic edition, my task here is simply to highlight some key alterations during the composition and revision process.

So, as I labor to meet my deadline (January 31, my friends), I am anxiously trying to add words every day to what I think of as “my Dalloway files.” And one thing I’m adding is evidence of how right Woolf was to strip away what she did. So this is a post about the rightness of taking words away.

Take, for instance, the moment when Peter remembers the night that Clarissa fell in love with Richard Dalloway:

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,"

In August of 1923, Woolf wrote a version of this scene:

“she liked laughing at him. Oh he talked about Ibsen. His recollection was that they had sat down on this They had sat on the ground & talked—he & Sally He & Clarissa & & Clarissa argued.” (Notebook 1 38; H 37).

It’s the Ibsen that stuck out to me here: of course Peter, trying so hard to be advanced, and Clarissa, attracted by advanced views but still sheltered, would have argued about Ibsen. It’s the 1890s. But we already know that she and Sally were reading Shelley and sneaking William Morris. Ibsen is one too many and he distracts from the emotions of the scene. So right to excise him. Right, too, to let Peter talk to Clarissa passionately here (rather than Sally—something she cannot quite decide in the notebook): it makes his loss of her love all the more profound. And it only strengthens our sense of what he loves and hates about her: her dignity and grace (as well as her maidenhood) in being able to be kind to him, to be a friend to him, even as she’s shifting her allegiance to a new man.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Draft footnote of the day: Shallott's shallop

When Richard Dalloway finds himself, unwillingly following Hugh Whitbread on a necklace-shopping trip, he thinks "Goodness knows he didn't want to go buying necklaces with Hugh. But there are tides in the body. Morning meets afternoon. Borne like a frail shallop on deep, deep floods...."

I got interested in that shallop and here's what I've come up with. It may be a reach, but I rather like it:

171.26 frail shallop By the 19th century, an unusual* word, denoting a small boat for shallow waters. Tennyson’s Lady of Shallott floats to Camelot “unhailed / The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d / Skimming down to Camelot” (21-23).
*I would love to use "rare" but that is a term of art for lexicographers, so I'll stay safe with unusual, which I believe to be accurate. The OED's 19th c attestations are to Tennyson and William Holman Hunt: both deliberately archaizing writers.