A week a go, or so, I read Hermione Lee’s essay “Virginia Woolf’s Nose”, from her book Body Parts. In this essay Lee gives us a clever examination of Mrs Dalloway, and also a comparative analysis of Mrs Dalloway, Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours and Stephen Daldry’s film adaption of Cunningham’s book.
Lee is reading Cunningham and Daldry in a respectful way, but is also pointing out difficulties in the way they both have interpreted Woolf’s original text. After reading Lee I felt the need for re-reading Woolf and watching the movie once more, there are so many details I’ve forgotten!
For many years now I have had this idea for a study/a book/a collection of essays on everyday life, its working title is: House & Home, a study of the uniqueness of ordinary lives. It will be about how art can make us see the strangeness in the ordinary, greatness in small worlds, the enigma of being me, a single person, in a world filled with singularities etc. … Even if I have wanted to write about this for ten years, I know the time isn’t right yet. So all I still do is collecting clever thoughts – Lee’s book is filled with them.
No wonder, maybe, that I love statements like this:
Fiction is a form of life writing.
The ordinary woman sets a challenge to all novelists.
The idea being that the domestic trivia is as important to humanity as the world of heroes and saints, but yet to be fully accepted as material for art.
And I’m also very fond of questions like these:
What is the value of a life of ordinary pleasures?
Do reading and writing make life bearable?
There are lots more to be found in Lee’s essay. You really should give it a go!