The blog is dead! Long live the blog!

I miss blogging.

2012 has turned out to be my worst year for blogging yet. And, alas, one of my best for facebook. Now, I love facebook. I would never bore you with pictures of my daughters swirling apples around in a bowl of melted caramel, but there, in that happy let’s-pretend stew of friends from kindergarten up through now, there is something comforting in getting a few “likes” for that image of happy childhood.

Still, this was better. A better discipline for me and better for my writing.

I submitted the mss of my edition of Mrs. Dalloway on January 31. But it wasn’t quite right, and so the editors asked for a bunch of changes. I resubmitted it in June, but I didn’t send it to right batch of editors. Finally, every superior editor signed off on my work in August and, two Fridays ago, on 9/28, I submitted it a third time. I’m hoping it’s the charm.

And, part of that hope is all about the hope that I can return to writing little tiny essays here from time to time.

We shall see.


It’s been a hard month at Fernham. I was so excited to turn in the first submission of Mrs. Dalloway in January. Making the revisions in May, however, was less exciting. Still, I thought we were moving closer to proof stage. I worked around the clock, as hard as I know how, sure that I was making progress toward a book. Now, it turns out that what I’ve done has to go to the series editors one more time and then to the Advisory Board. The goal posts haven’t just moved, they have receded from sight. I’m not sure why I didn’t understand the process, but it’s considerably lengthier and more involved than with my first book.

The good news is that the series editors tell me that what they’ve seen is good.

The good news, for you, is that this will make for a better book.

The bad news is that I am beyond done with thinking about this project. The bloom is off the rose, the flowers have wilted, and I’m ready to quit. On top of everything else, the editors are also asking me to excise all my Americanisms. Not knowing what those are, I’ve asked them, with all due respect, to do it themselves.

In the end, this is probably only a two-month delay, but I’m so discouraged that it feels like this book is never going to be done. Sometimes, unfortunately, the scholar’s life is even less than it’s cracked up to be.

One last draft footnote

31:9 Princess Mary Princess Mary (1897-1965) was the third child and only daughter of George V and Queen Mary. She married Viscount Henry Lascelles (1882-1947) on February 28, 1922. Lascelles had been an early suitor of Vita Sackville-West and would be the model for the Archduke Harry in O. Michael North notes that, for many people in England, this royal wedding was a sign that the war was finally over (5). Woolf took a passing interest in the wedding ‘Please tell me why Pr. Mary married Ld. Lascelles’ (L2 511). Later Clarissa's maid Lucy imagines herself as attending Princess Mary (59). 

Draft footnote of the day: the green dress

58:14-15 By artificial light the green shone The green dress that becomes magical by artificial light reverses a distressing memory of a green dress gone wrong: ‘Down I came one winter’s evening about 1900 in my green dress […] All the lights were turned up in the drawing room; and by the blazing fire George sat, in dinner jacket and tie, cuddling the dachshund [….] He said at last: “Go and tear it up”’ (MB 151).

Draft footnote of the day: red flowers in Flanders Fields

104:19-20 Red flowers grew through his flesh John McCrae’s 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ commemorates the fact of red poppies blooming abundantly in battlefields that saw some of the heaviest casualties during World War One: ‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row’ (1-2). Line six begins ‘We are the dead.’ Since 1920, the red poppy has been a symbol of remembrance of the war dead.


Not her most charitable mood, but sometimes I find myself thinking something similar about those #occupy kids. Yeah, they're my heroes, but they're kind of weird...
266:20 Hampstead Village in North London dating from the eighteenth century, where artists and freethinkers have resided. The poet John Keats, who, like Jim Hutton, Woolf imagines in red socks, lived in Hampstead from 1818-1820 (see EN 265.28). He wrote ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ there. Adjacent is the preserved open space of Hampstead Heath. Cf. ‘It’s unfortunate the civilization always lights up the dwarfs, cripples, & sexless people first. And Hampstead provides them’ (D 1:110; 21 January 1918).

Draft footnote of the day: Albanians

181:8 Albanians Albania, too, was in the news at this time, although for far different reasons than Armenia and with much less public sympathy from Britain. By 1921, Albania was bankrupt, having been at war continuously since 1910. The discovery of oil led the British-based Anglo-Persian Oil Company to send significant financial support to Ahmed Zogu. Zogu was elected prime minister in 1922, then, president in 1925. In 1928, Albania became a monarchy and Zogu, its king, Zog I. See Vickers.

This morning's mystery

I'm off to read 'The Rape of Lucrece' for Mrs. Dalloway and it strikes me as a pretty grim task. I was summarizing Cymbeline yesterday, trying to describe how Imogen's husband makes a bet that she is faithful, sets up a friend to test her, and he sneaks into her bedroom and spies on her while she's asleep. Later he pretends to have raped her.

Then, I spent all that time re-reading Clarissa last spring which is all about rape.

And the other Clarissa in literature is the rapist's accessory in 'The Rape of the Lock.'

And Jane de Gay's book pointed me to the links between Clarissa's thought that there will be no more marrying and Hamlet's 'Get thee to a nunnery' speech.

So why, I want to know, is Clarissa Dalloway's happy memory of love also Othello's feeling? Why, when she remembers feeling in love, does she remember the feeling of a lover who will become a murderer, a man who will go mad from suspicion of his wife's infidelity?

Looked at from this angle, the violence and the threat of rape seems to be in too many places with no one untainted.

Draft footnotes of the day: The Tempest & Cymbeline

Jane de Gay's excellent book led me to look again at Ariel's song in The Tempest. Earlier, I had heard 'those are pearls that were his eyes' more strongly through Eliot's quotation of it than through Shakespeare himself. Jane's work taught me to think differently and led me to a great dog footnote too. Enjoy.
61:18 Fear no more From Cymbeline. See EN 16:23. See also 46:26, 211:1. Jane deGay notes that Woolf’s earlier allusion to Ariel’s song from The Tempest (47:21) informs this allusion to Cymbeline: ‘Fear no more says the heart, committing its burden to the sea’ (61:18-19). Both songs are dirges sung for characters presumed dead who turn out to be alive (de Gay 89). See also EN:61:24. 
61:24 the dog barking See The Tempest: ‘Hark, hark! | burthen dispersedly, [within]. Bow-wow. | The watch-dogs bark! (1:2:381-383). This, from the first half of Ariel’s song, closely follows the combined allusion to Cymbeline and The Tempest above (61:18).

Shakespeare, the sun to our little moons

One of the puzzles in writing footnotes to Mrs. Dalloway is that the direct allusions don't necessarily correlate to the writers who most influenced Woolf. This makes a lot of sense--we often talk a lot about influences that bother us and talk seldom at all about those who are so important to us that they run in our veins. Still, one of my challenges as an editor has been to think about ways to depict this accurately. Woolf herself offers an explanation for this phenomenon in this discussion of Shakespeare from the 1924 essay ‘Indiscretions’: 
‘Of Shakespeare we need not speak. The nimble little birds of field and hedge, lizards, shrews and dormice, do not pause in their dallyings and sporting to thank the sun for warming them; nor need we, the light of whose literature comes from Shakespeare, seek to praise him’ (E 3:463)
It's a beautiful metaphor. I've certainly found a lot more Shakespeare than I expected in Mrs. Dalloway and, thank to other critics, will be able to cite many more.

Even Woolf nods

In the finished novel, Clarissa's maybe-I-should-have-married-him friend, Peter Walsh, has a young (24) girlfriend called, obviously enough, Daisy. But in the draft, she was, for a moment & far too obviously, Daisy Summers. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to learn how ham-fisted Woolf could be in her drafts and how sure she was in her revisions to excise such silliness.

Daisy Buchanan came into being in the spring of 1925 as well, by the way.

As a name, Daisy first became popular in the Victorian period, along with other flower names. 

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).

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.


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. 

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.

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.

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.

Draft footnote of the day: the daily paper

117.21 Morning Post: owned by Lady Bathurst, this was a publication of the extreme right, which had published violent anti-Semitic propaganda in 1920. Peter Walsh exaggerates Richard Dalloway's conservatism; he reads The Times. Cf. Woolf’s account of her paper-reading habits: “I have changed the Daily News for the Morning Post. The proportions of the world at once become utterly different. The M.P. has the largest letters & the double column devoted to the murder of Mrs Lindsay; anglo Indians, Anglo Scots, & retired old men & patriotic ladies writer letter after letter to deplore the state of the country; applaud the M.P., the only faithful standard bearer left” (D 2.127; 10 August 1921). Lady Ottoline Morrell announced her daughter’s (unsuccessful) social debut in the Morning Post. Cf. L 3.180: “Not a single party has Julian [Morrell] been asked to, though they put a notice in the Morning Post.” See also Mansfield’s story “The Dove’s Nest,” in which a female character consults The Morning Post in hopes of finding suitable conversation topics for a male luncheon guest (249). Woolf glanced at the Mansfield volume in June 1923 (D 2. 247-8).