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LITERARY STYLE INSPIRATION: THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN

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ROLLING WITH JAMES JOYCE ON AN IRISH HILL

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ODE TO THE BOOKISH GIRLS

The green dress

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“Her evening dresses hung in the cupboard.  Clarissa, plunging her hand into the softness, gently detached the green dress and carried it to the window.  She had torn it.  Someone had trod on the skirt.  She had felt it give at the Embassy party at the top among the folds.  By artificial light the green shone, but lost its colour now in the sun.  She would mend it.  Her maids had too much to do.  She would wear it to-night.  She would take her silks, her scissors, her–what was it? — her thimble, of course, down into the drawing-room, for she must also write, and see that things generally were more or less in order.”

Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

I am not one to wear very bright colours. Usually, an all-black ensemble or muted tones like grey, cream or blush pink are my go to colours as I feel like they are less attention seeking, so I can get away with sitting on a bench somewhere, quite unnoticed, and find inspiration on the faces of the strangers passing me by.

There are times however, when I find bright coloured fashion pieces that ask to be worn on clear spring days, when cherry blossoms are in their full glory and every corner of my village is filled with blue-velvet like hydrangeas. This green dress is one example. More than for its rich green colour, however, I bought this dress because it reminded me of Virginia Woolf’s Clarissa when she is getting ready for her party.

Have you ever read Mrs Dalloway? I must have read this novel three, maybe four, times. I love the images that Woolf has imprinted on my memory — Clarissa’s pauses and that feeling that something awful is about to happen, the sound of an airplane halting the inner life of the people in the street who notice it and, as with every Woolfian novel, the wave-like sentences taking me from one inner life to another.

Shop the story:

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