I reread Mrs. Dalloway, conventionally Mrs Dalloway, without the full stop, on the front cover in England, but with on the title pages and thereafter. It is, I believe, the first book I read by Woolf. I’ve never forgotten the passage in which one first meets Miss Kilman, her colossal egotism and self righteousness, her monstrous libido sublimated into religious fanaticism. It is extraordinary writing and testament to Woolf’s capacity for capturing character with a few lines.
When I read Mrs. Dalloway for the first time, I took copies of the book to press into the hands of a few friends. Only one of them had read it. One other was to become, just like me, an unconditional “Woolfian”. It was the Kilman passages that I marked and then read to them, savouring that moment when Miss Kilman and Clarissa ‘assess each other’s bodies in class terms’. Remarkable, yes, but also undeniably cruel as Woolf can be to her minor, symbolic characters.