“Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf Commonplace-Book Entry: Wishing For How Things Were Before The War

“‘That is all,’ she repeated, pausing for a moment at the window of a glove shop where, before the War, you could buy almost perfect gloves. And her old Uncle William used to say a lady is known by her shoes and her gloves. He had turned on his bed one morning in the middle of the War. He had said, ‘I have had enough.’ Gloves and shoes; she had a passion for gloves; but her own daughter, her Elizabeth, cared not a straw for either of them.’’

In this passage, Mrs. Dalloway is reminiscing about times before the War, when her Uncle Williams taught her about gloves and shoes. Perhaps her Uncle taking her to good glove shops inspired her liking for gloves that she still has today, but now it seems like she is comparing that passion that her and her Uncle had shared together with the kind of bond that she has with her own daughter, Elizabeth, which seems like not a very strong one, since they do not seem to care about a lot of the same things. Maybe this passage is about how wars can negatively affect the world, since Mrs. Dalloway implies that this glove store she is looking at does not make their gloves as perfectly as they used to, or it could also be about how she wishes to be as close with her daughter as she used to be with Uncle William.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, Inc., 1925, page 11.

“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce Commonplace-Book Entry: Childhood Magic of Christmas Decorations

“There were coloured lanterns in the hall of his father’s house and ropes of green branches. There were holly and ivy round the pierglass and holly and ivy, green and red, twined round the chandeliers. There were red holly and green ivy round the old portraits on the walls. Holly and ivy for him and for Christmas. Lovely…”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press Inc., 2000, page 16.

I do not know if this passage in particular is from a dream or from a scenario that Stephen is wishfully thinking about in his head based on past experiences, but it seems so magical and exciting as a child to come home for the first day of winter break and seeing your house already decorated for the holidays. By Stephen focusing on the holly and ivy that are put up around certain areas of the house, it made me realize that part of what makes the holidays so special is seeing the house decorated in the same way that it always is, with the same decorations in the same spots that they are always put up, which gives everyone such a unique, but shared sense of familiarity, since each family’s way of decorating is different, but it is always one of the first signs that the holidays are approaching. Stephen’s way of describing the holly and ivy around his family’s house, with their specific placements, colors, and calling them lovely gives me the sense that he likes to observe and pay attention to little details, and also thinks that the little, simple things in life are beautiful, which I think are good traits for a child who is going to become an artist to have.

“The Middle Years” by Henry James Commonplace-Book Entry: Prediction of Future Apprentice

“Chance had brought the weary man of letters face to face with the greatest admirer in the new generation whom it was supposable he possessed. The admirer, in truth, was mystifying, so rare a case was it to find a bristling young doctor–he looked like a German physiologist–enamoured of literary form. It was an accident, but happier than most accidents, so that Dencombe, exhilarated as well as confounded, spent half an hour in making his visitor talk while he kept himself quiet.”

James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, The Library of America, 1996, page 342.

Tone change in Dencombe from reminiscent and sorrowful to pleasantly surprised and appreciative. It seems as though meeting Doctor Hugh, a smart and young admirer of Dencombe’s artistic touch in literature, was a rare, fateful occurrence to Dencombe, which seems to make him truly happy and forget his mournful attitude that his old age has given him about life. Perhaps when Dencombe reveals his true identity to Doctor Hugh, he could solve his problem of not having enough time left to create more books using his refined talent, by training Doctor Hugh to become his successor in creating artful stories for him, so that his legacy as an author can still live on through Doctor Hugh, whom Dencombe also seems to admire in return.