Anne FernaldAug 2, 2022
Anne Fernald on Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"
Book Talk 54
New Books Network 2022
Halfway through Mrs Dalloway, Septimus Smith mutters to himself: "Communication is health; communication is happiness, communication.” It’s easy to write off his message that communication is vital for human existence. He’s a shell-shocked World War I vet, who, in this moment, hallucinates that the birds are communicating with him in grief. But in her landmark 1925 novel, Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf understands his traumatized psyche with deep generosity and compassion. Indeed, the book’s pervasive sense is that “it takes a lot of bravery to live a single day,” but that such everyday bravery is amply, richly, wonderfully rewarded in even the simplest of acts.
I spoke with Anne Fernald about Mrs Dalloway’s profound politics of emotion—and a host of other ideas. Anne is Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Fordham University. She is the editor of Mrs. Dalloway (2014) and the Norton Critical Edition of Mrs. Dalloway (2021), and the author of Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader (2006). Her incredible knowledge of and love for Woolf is itself an act of bravery, as you can hear in our conversation.
You can find Warbler Press’s authoritative edition, with a new introduction by me, here.
Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Think About It” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email email@example.com; Twitter @UliBaer.