Today is the third Wednesday in June, also known as Dalloway Day! This is a great opportunity to plunge out your door and explore your own community, and let your mind wander. Perhaps even pick up the flowers yourself?
I’m out and about in Toronto, live posting as I try to recreate 1923 London (or, at very least, follow the path described in the book, hour by hour). You can catch my stroll on Twitter, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Stories.
And due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the Royal Society of Literature in London, UK, is live streaming some of their Dalloway Day programming starting at 6:30pm. You can check in out here.
What a lark!
Reading during self-isolation and quarantine seems like a no-brainer: there’s plenty of time on your hands, and what better use of your time? In reality, it’s not always easy to find the right book for the, um, mood. Many readers have been turning to books that either reflect some part of their current situation or feed into their fears of the future. Others find solace in reading about the little things: errands, walking around without having to keep 2 metres from each other. Savouring written passages that detail these luxuries is a great way to escape.
In that vein, The New Yorker ran an article this week on the appeal of Mrs Dalloway in these strange times:
At a time when our most ordinary acts—shopping, taking a walk—have come to seem momentous, a matter of life or death, Clarissa’s vision of everyday shopping as a high-stakes adventure resonates in a peculiar way. We are all Mrs. Dalloway now.
You can read the full article here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances, where my city has all but shut down to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Like you, I’m self-isolating. I also wanted to reach out somehow.
One of the few outdoor activities sanctioned by Toronto Health is to walk (but keep your distance from others!). And there are small community book boxes dotted around a few neighbourhoods I border. So yesterday and today I wandered about placing random copies of my first five titles (Wuthering Heights, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Age of Innocence, Mrs Dalloway, and The Scarlet Letter) into those little libraries. I hope that they find good homes! (One kind neighbour took the time to find my email address to thank me for putting a copy of Hound near their home, which made my day!)
So if you are walking in the Beaconsfield Village, Dufferin Grove Park, Parkdale, or Roncesvalles neighbourhoods of Toronto, perhaps check out the boxes and see if there’s something there for you. Oh, and be kind: leave a book of your own if you can. It may make someone’s self-isolation period that much more enjoyable.
And when I heard that Mrs. Dalloway would be the first of their 2019 releases, I was ecstatic, because I love this book, a book I’ve returned to several times since I first learned to read Virginia Woolf (for me, it was not instinctual) twenty years ago when I was an undergraduate. It’s funny, because while I like to read in a stream of literary consciousness, the act of actually reading stream-of-consciousness is not my ideal. Because it’s hard and you have to pay attention and nothing’s fastened you to the plot so you have to do all that work yourself.
But I can do it with Woolf, with Mrs. Dalloway. Not getting too caught up in the details, letting the atoms fall where they may. It takes practice, and confidence, and patience, but I find it so rewarding. And easier too in a book that’s brand-spanking new, with a map even…
Squee! Spine love! Kerry Clare of Pickle Me This wrote about the design for Mrs Dalloway! You can read it here.