I had read Virginia Woolf’s 1925 Mrs. Dalloway at least three times in the past, but I would guess that it’s been a good 12-15 years since the last time. For whatever reason, I started thinking recently about reading it again. I no longer had my paperback copy as many of my books went on to other lives after I divested myself of many of my things when moving across the country and back again.
A few months ago, I had signed up for Readmill, an ebook reader and service that includes many public domain works. I had read only one thing on it before, Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat around the time I had read Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake since Gogol’s story plays an important part in Lahiri’s tale.
I checked Readmill and Mrs. Dalloway is available, so I downloaded it along with several other of Woolf’s works. I have since downloaded many other classic novels and have become quite enamoured of Readmill’s reading experience. As with other ebook readers, it allows for adjusting fonts and brightness and includes a highlighting option.
Readmill has a built in social aspect through which you can connect with friends on Twitter and Facebook along with native Readmill users. My only complaint is that it is impossible to browse beyond the books Readmill suggests. Even searching by author seems to provide a limited view of what it really available. Gerald R. Lucas over at Medium has an excellent and more detailed review of Readmill.
As one could guess by the fact that I had already read Mrs. Dalloway at least three times, it has long been one of my favorite novels. Re-reading it after so many years has only added to the appeal. One of the magical things about re-reading books is that you approach the works from a new perspective. In fact, I’m a bit surprised now that I enjoyed it so much the first time I read it in my twenties because all the characters are middle-aged and I can relate to them in a much deeper way now that I am nearly as old as they are.
The structure of the novel still fascinates me. Mrs. Dalloway covers one day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for giving a party. The narrative shifts focus through various characters who cross her path or who somehow touch her life. There isn’t much in the way of conventional plot but it certainly doesn’t lack for drama. Even the smallest details can carry great weight when the inner lives of the characters are so wonderfully developed.
Mrs. Dalloway is deservedly a classic and belongs on anyone’s must read list.
Chris Maker’s 1962 La Jetée came in between the two Fellini films. Along with Metropolis, La Jetée is only the second science fiction film so far on the BFI list of the 50 Greatest Films of All Time. Using a sequence of still photos, with one brief exception, along with voiceover narration, it’s arguably the most experimental film since The Man with a Movie Camera. At 28 minutes, it is definitely the shortest yet.
Set in the aftermath of the Third World War, an anonymous man (Davos Hanich) lives in the Paris underground and is haunted by the memory of seeing a man murdered. He is recruited for a time travel experiment in the hopes that someone can be sent to the past and/or the future to save the present. The man is obsessed by the memory of a woman (Hélène Chatelain) who he had seen right before witnessing the murder. Through the experiments, he is able to meet the woman and the mystery of the murder comes to light.
The unique technique of using still images would become tiresome in a longer movie, but at just under a half an hour, the novelty works and creates an appropriately distant and mysterious mood. La Jetée is a fascinating movie but the short length and experimental filmmaking make it difficult to feel fully engaged but it is definitely worth watching.
- Metropolis (1927)
- Citizen Kane (1941)
- Seven Samurai (1954)
- Ordet (1955)
- Vertigo (1958)
- Breathless (1960)
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
- City Lights (1931)
- Bicycle Thieves (1948)
- Rashomon (1950)
- Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
- The 400 Blows (1959)
- L’Avventura (1960)
- The General (1926)
- The Rules of the Game (1939)
- Late Spring (1949)
- Tokyo Story (1953)
- Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)
- Journey to Italy (1954)
- Psycho (1960)
- La Jetée (1962)
I read two books in February and am on a good pace to meet my goal of reading 30 books this year. I have already written about The Goldfinch and Wonderbook, so I won’t elaborate here. So far in 2014, I’ve finished reading five books. One of the books was a library book that has since been returned and one was an ebook, so my pile of books doesn’t quite represent my progress.
- The Illearth War
- The Wisdom of the Heart
- Léger: Modern Art and the Modern City (library book)
- The Goldfinch (ebook)
Interesting and helpful links found in February:
- The Value of a Humanities Degree
- 6 Technologies Will Change Colleges in Coming Years, Experts Say
- Librarian as Poet / Poet as Librarian
- Rejecting the Standardized Test
- Despite Steep Cost, College Degrees Still Show Value
- Who Says Libraries Are Going Extinct?
- Schools Should Be Teaching Kids How to Use the Internet Well
- Customer Mentality
- Me and You and Everything We Know: Information Behavior in Library Workplaces
- 11 issues facing academic libraries right now.
- The 10 Best Movies Based on Unfilmable Books
- The Moment in Space and Time When Charlie Chaplin Became the Tramp
- The Art of Restoring Classic Films: Criterion Shows You How It Refreshed Two Hitchcock Movies
- UCLA Releases Scathing Report on Diversity in Film and TV
- The 10 Best Movies That Were Never Made
- Impatience Has Its Reward: Books Are Rolled Out Faster
- E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps
- Alice Munro’s Writerly Wisdom: Short Stories Aren’t Small Stories
- Is the literary world elitist?
- Is “Binge-Reading” the New “Binge-Watching”? (I Sure Hope Not)
- The Days When You Don’t Feel Like Writing
- Quality, Schmality-Indie Lit Rocks!
- Is Your Book Good Enough for Publication? A Cold-Blooded Assessment
- Cheap Words: Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?
- A Most Searching Examination