In 1925, Virginia Woolf’ published her novel, Mrs Dalloway. It is about a woman, Clarissa Dalloway, who is hosting a June party in London. It doesn’t sound like much of a plot, but the novel was partially an experiment. She set the novel on a single day and used stream-of-consciousness storytelling.
Virginia Woolf was a big fan of James Joyce’s Ulysses which had been published earlier (1922). Ulysses is also set on a single day in June and is a early and powerful example of stream-of-consciousness storytelling techniques.
Mrs Dalloway marks a break from Woolf’s more traditional earlier writing. Clarissa’s thoughts and her impressions on that day are mixed with interior monologues of others. Some her day parallels the life of Septimus Warren Smith who fall into a madness ending in suicide.
Woolf’s novel is not clear about the day we follow Clarissa. Using a 1923 calendar, some people have suggested that June 13 is the most likely date.
As far as I could find, the date of her party is only described a Wednesday “in the middle of June, ” so this year the 12th or 19th would have been appropriate.
Joyce set his novel on June 16, and that day has become knowns as Bloomsday. Fans of the novel have made that day a way to celebrate the book by trying to reenact the actions of Leopold Bloom in the plot. There are Bloomsday celebrations around the world and some that sound quite outrageous in the Dublin of the novel.
But people aren’t celebrating what might be called “Dallowday.” But why not? Why can’t at least London celebrate the day?
It is a great excuse for readings, exhibitions, maybe some performances and, of course, a party.
If London doesn’t want a party, I think it is up to you to get things started. This weekend is just fine.
If you need some ideas and don’t want to read the novel (Honestly, I didn’t like the novel), there is a film version of Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway, starring Vanessa Redgrave.
There is also a film version that uses Woolf’s working title for her novel as its title – The Hours. That film is the story of how Woolf’s novel affects three generations of women. What they share is that they have all had to deal with suicide in their lives, and their lives connect to Mrs. Dalloway’s lfe and that June day.
The Hours is a novel by Michael Cunningham. He takes Virginia Woolf’s life and particularly her last days before her suicide and uses it. Her story particularly connects with the character Samuel, a famous poet in the shadow of his talented and troubled mother. He has a lifelong friend, Clarissa.
All of them and all of that can be at your party. Sure, someone gets to dress up as Clarissa.