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First Thoughts on Mrs Dalloway

Ploughing through the first pages of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, I’m reminded of several other artists, not all of them writers.

The first is Jack Kerouac. The stream of consciousness narrative, poetic and vibrant real-time description and epic sentences. Full stops are few. My first attempt at reading was fruitless. Only going back and reading as though aloud and in character seemed to work. It was a child-like approach, but once I did that, I was there – in Woolf’s lucidly illustrated world.

The others are film-makers. Wim Wenders and Robert Altman (and his greatest imitator Paul Thomas Anderson). It flits in and out of different threads, from one viewpoint to another, aggregating into a whole. It puts me in mind of the first half of Wings of Desire as we move from the thoughts of one character to another, the focus becoming finer as the story progresses and coalesces. Very modern, difficult and rewarding.

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