The Hours – Film Analysis Essay

In his novel The Hours. Michael Cunningham weaves a dazing cloth of intertextual mentions to Virginia Woolf’s works every bit good as to her life. In this essay. I shall partially give to the academic scabies to badger out the manifold and sophisticated allusions to the legion intertexts. My purpose. nevertheless. is non to indicate out every individual mention to Woolf and her works–such an enterprise of source-hunting would neglect entirely because of the sheer copiousness of intertextual references–and to deprive The Hours down until its togss lie bare in forepart of me. but to take the theories of influence ( as voiced. for illustration. by Bloom ) and their construct of a unidirectional relationship between an anterior text and a posterior text as a point of going to look into how Cunningham manipulates and transforms the anterior texts and. consequently. establishes a bipartisan relationship between himself and Woolf.

The critical term of intertextuality was coined in 1966 by Julia Kristeva. who — following Mikhail Bakhtin — writes in her ground-breaking essay “Word. Dialogue. and Novel” [ 1 ] : “ [ E ] ach word ( text ) is an intersection of word [ sic ] ( texts ) where at least one other word ( text ) can be read. . . . any text is constructed as a mosaic of citations ; any text is the soaking up and transmutation of another” ( 66 ) . However. as Kristeva in a ulterior interview explains. the kineticss of intertextuality does non merely take topographic point between writer and text but besides between text and reader: “If we are readers of intertextuality. we must be capable of the same putting-into-process of our individualities. capable of placing with the different types of texts. voices. semantic. syntactic. and phonic system at drama in a given text” ( Waller 282 ) .

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In fact. it is the reader who traces the intertextual mentions. which in their bend guide him or her towards a better apprehension of the text: “The term [ intertextuality ] so refers to an operation of the reader’s head. but it is an obligatory one. necessary to any textual decryption. Intertextuality needfully complements our experience of textuality. It is the perceptual experience that our reading of the text can non be complete or satisfactory without traveling through the intertext. . . ” ( Riffaterre 142 ) . Correspondingly. readers of The Hours. a postmodern novel dumbly interwoven with mentions to Woolf’s plants. do non necessitate to hold read all the intertexts Cunningham draws upon in order to understand the narrative ; nevertheless. a certain acquaintance with the cardinal intertexts will take them to appreciate his novel more to the full.

Michael Cunningham makes no effort to conceal his intertexts. both the historical intertexts such as the lifes he has used for his history of a individual twenty-four hours in the life of Virginia Woolf and which he declares in “A Note on Sources” at the terminal of the novel ( 229-30 ) . and his cardinal intertext taken from fiction. Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. By entitling his novel “The Hours” — one of the rubrics Woolf considered for her novel in its early phases ( Hussey 172 ) –he shows his liability as a postmodernist author to one of the chief texts of the modernist canon. In The Hours. all three narrative strands are in one manner or the other connected to Mrs. Dalloway: the subdivisions entitled “Mrs. Woolf” follow the writer Virginia Woolf through a individual twenty-four hours in 1923. the twenty-four hours she puts the first line of her new novel to paper ; the subdivisions under the header of “Mrs. Dalloway” are Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway rewritten and reinterpreted. set now in New York City at the terminal of the 20th century ( alternatively of London in the mid-twentiess ) ; while the subdivisions named “Mrs. Brown” narrate one twenty-four hours in the life of Laura Brown. life in Los Angeles in 1949. who on that twenty-four hours begins to read Mrs. Dalloway.

The Hours. a postmodernist cloth woven out of intertextual mentions. uses medley as its primary rhetorical device. Pastiche. like lampoon. involves “the imitation or. better still. the apery of other styles” ( Jameson 113 ) . but in contrast to lampoon. the digest of both the signifiers and the contents of anterior texts is “neither needfully critical of its beginnings. nor needfully comic” ( Rose 72 ) : “Pastiche is clean lampoon. lampoon that has lost its sense of humor” ( Jameson 114 ) . By composing a medley out of anterior texts. by miming an earlier writer. Cunningham destroys the romantic image of the god-like writer who creates a text out of nil ; Cunningham kills the writer and the construct of him or her as the exclusive beginning of significance. What. so. happens to the writer. who has symbolically killed himself and now is a mere compiler of anterior texts? He reads. As a author of medley. in order to weave a heavy cloth of intertextual mentions. he has to be a rapacious and observant reader. By giving one of the three narrative strands to Laura Brown. the reader. Cunningham introduces a 3rd component into the traditional binary relationship author-text and therefore stresses the importance of reading for the creative activity of literature.

Although all three narrative strands of The Hours are in one manner or the other connected to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Michael Cunningham approaches his cardinal intertext from different waies: while the subdivisions entitled “Mrs. Woolf” and “Mrs. Brown” are related to Mrs. Dalloway in so far as they represent the point of position of the writer or the reader severally. the 3rd narrative strand draws on Mrs. Dalloway more closely by re-explaining and rewriting it in footings of secret plan. construction. word picture. and manner.

Like Cunningham’s The Hours with its three narrative strands. Mrs. Dalloway is besides set on a individual twenty-four hours ( in June 1923 ) and weaves together several narrative positions. which are organised in two parallel-running narratives: one of them Centres on Septimus Warren Smith. a soldier agony shell daze after the First World War. while the other — and Cunningham chiefly focuses on this strand of the double narrative — recounts Clarissa Dalloway’s readyings for a party she will give the same eventide. During the twenty-four hours. she now and so reminisces on the clip she was 18 and lived at her parents’ house at Bourton. Her ideas bend to her past love Peter Walsh and her rejection of his matrimony proposal and to another old friend from Bourton. Sally Seton. with whom she was one time in love.

However. those times are all long gone now. and Clarissa is married to Richard Dalloway and has non seen her old friends for old ages ; Sally holding married into a comfortable household in Manchester and Peter populating abroad in India — or this is what Clarissa thinks because. while fixing for the party. she is surprised by a visit from Peter. who has merely returned to England in order to go to to the legal personal businesss of his fiance . and. subsequently on that twenty-four hours. Sally will out of the blue get at the party and therefore finish the reunion of the old friends who were together at Bourton more than three decennaries earlier. [ 2 ]

Taking the secret plan of Mrs. Dalloway as a starting point. Cunningham transcodes it into North-American turn-of-the-millennium footings. The London upper-class married woman Clarissa Dalloway having celebrated invitees in the eventide is the theoretical account for Clarissa Vaughan giving a little party for her friend Richard. who has merely won the Carrouthers Prize in acknowledgment of his literary virtues. It was besides Richard’s thought to call her after a great figure in literature. Mrs. Dalloway. on the one manus. because of her bing first name and. on the other manus. because he thought that she was “destined to capture. to prosper” ( 10-11 ) . [ 3 ]

While the secret plan and the chief characters taken from Mrs. Dalloway are fundamentally retained. the covert. hinted-at homosexualism. particularly the latent sapphic dimension of Clarissa Dalloway’s attractive force to Sally Seton. has been replaced in The Hours by open homosexual relationships. Clarissa. now an old hippie. lives together with her spouse Sally Seton in a level on West Tenth Street in New York City. and her lost love Richard. with whom she and Louis formed a love trigon in the 1960ss and who so entered a long-run relationship with Louis. is now a victim of AIDS.

However. Cunningham inverts the heterosexual form of Mrs. Dalloway in favor of homosexual relationships non merely for the supporters but besides for minor characters. While the Clarissa of Mrs. Dalloway is vexed by her girl Elizabeth being “closeted” in her room with Miss Kilman. her private coach with a missional ardor for Christianity ( 130 ) . in The Hours. Clarissa regrets that she can non purchase a lovely small black frock for her girl Julia because she is “in bondage to a fagot theoretician and insists on Jerseies and combat boots” ( 23 ) . Mary Krull. like Miss Kilman populating on the brink of poorness. is seized by a missional ardor for feminism. “going to gaol for her assorted causes” and “lecturing passionately at NYU about the regretful mask known as gender” ( 23 ) .

And correspondingly. Hugh Whitbread. whom Clarissa Dalloway meets in Green Park and who tells her that he and his married woman Evelyn have merely come up to London because Evelyn has “some internal ailment” ( 8 ) . maintain his initials. though switched. and is rewritten as Walter Hardy. whom Clarissa Vaughan meets in Washington Square Park and who is remaining in New York for the weekend because his spouse Evan. who is sick with AIDS. feels better on a new drug cocktail and wants to travel dancing ( 15-19 ) . And while the “admirable Hugh” ( 7 ) “with his small occupation at Court” ( 8 ) likes “nothing better than making kindness” ( 190 ) . the end-of-the-millennium homosexual equivalent of a tribunal adulator is a author of fagot love affairs: “Walter Hardy. . . makes an obscene sum of money composing love affair novels about love and loss among absolutely muscled immature men” ( 17 ) . Hugh Whitbread. who possesses “the art of composing letters to the Times” ( 121 ) and helps Lady Bruton draft a missive to the editor. is echoed in Walter Hardy. who “writes embarrassingly munificent endorsement for younger writers” ( 18 ) and who writes the screen drama for a thriller with a homosexual hero starring the homosexual histrion Oliver St. Ives ( 175-6 ) .

Even though the prevailing homosexual relationships in The Hours both invert and mirror the heterosexual construction of the relationships in Mrs. Dalloway. the indispensable character traits and the cardinal secret plan are retained and serve Cunningham as a structural model. For case. when Richard Dalloway is invited for tiffin by Lady Bruton to assist her bill of exchange a missive to the Times together with Hugh Whitbread and Clarissa Dalloway is non invited and feels passed over ; The Hours offers an reverberation of this in Oliver St. Ives’s tiffin invitation to Sally entirely and Clarissa draws the decision that she is non interesting plenty for the movie star: “He likely thought Clarissa was a married woman ; merely a wife” ( 94 ) .

Cunningham continues utilizing the original secret plan as a model when Hugh and Sally. after holding had tiffin with Oliver St. Ives. enter an expensive manner store — a jewelry maker in Mrs. Dalloway ( 125 ) — because Hugh wants to purchase a present for his ailment spouse Evan ( 180 ) and Sally remembers her past failures to happen the perfect nowadays for Clarissa ( 181 ) and her failure to set her love for Clarissa into words ( 182 ) . Subsequently. she buys a corsage of xanthous roses for Clarissa ( 184 ) — in Mrs. Dalloway. Richard. excessively diffident to state “I love you. ” buys a clump of ruddy and white roses ( 127 ) .

While Cunningham’s word picture originates in Woolf’s characters with their concealed homosexual feelings and updates them for the terminal of the
millenary when everybody has come out of the cupboard. he fundamentally retains the secret plan. And he proceeds in the same manner when he takes Woolf’s manner as a starting point. from which his ain manner bit by bit evolves. though staying faithful to the anterior text. A apposition of the two beginnings — the beginning of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway functioning as a theoretical account for Cunningham’s beginning of the narrative strand “Mrs. Dalloway” — demonstrates in what ways the old manner is adapted but besides adopted:

Mrs. Dalloway said she would purchase the flowers herself. For Lucy had her work cut out for her. The doors would be taken off their flexible joints ; Rumpelmayer’s work forces were coming. And so. thought Clarissa Dalloway. what a morning–fresh as if issued to kids on the beach.

What a lark! What a dip! For so it had ever seemed to her when. with a small squeak of the flexible joints. which she could hear now. she had burst open the Gallic Windowss and plunged at Bourton into the unfastened air. How fresh. how unagitated. stiller than this of class. the air was in the early forenoon ; like the flap of a moving ridge ; the buss of a moving ridge ; iciness and crisp and yet ( for a miss of 18 as she so was ) solemn. feeling as she did. standing at that place at the unfastened window. that something awful was about to go on ; looking at the flowers. at the trees with the fume weaving off them and the castle lifting. falling ; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said. “Musing among the veggies? ” ( Woolf 5 )

This early-morning scene of Clarissa Dalloway about to travel out and purchase the flowers for the party. represented in free indirect manner. is echoed in The Hours. as is the manner Clarissa experiences the fresh Westminster forenoon. and her idea that the doors would be taken off the flexible joints. which triggers the nostalgic memory of her opening the door onto a similar forenoon. accompanied by the squeak of the flexible joints:

There are still the flowers to purchase. Clarissa feigns aggravation ( though she loves making errands like this ) . leaves Sally cleaning the bathroom. and runs out. assuring to be back in half an hr. . . .

The anteroom door opens onto a June forenoon so all right and scrubbed Clarissa pauses at the threshold as she would at the border of a pool. watching the turquoise H2O lapping at the tiles. the liquid cyberspaces of Sun hesitation in the bluish deepnesss. As if standing at the border of a pool she delays for a minute the dip. the speedy membrane of iciness. the field daze of submergence. . . .

What a bang. what a daze. . . . She feels every spot every bit good as she did that twenty-four hours in Wellfleet. at the age of 18. stepping out through the glass doors into a twenty-four hours really much like this one. fresh and about distressingly clear. rampant with growing. There were darning needles cranking among the cattails. There was a grassy odor sharpened by pine sap. Richard came out behind her. set a manus on her shoulder. and said. “Why. hullo. Mrs. Dalloway. ” ( Cunningham 9-10 )

Cunningham therefore re-voices Mrs. Dalloway from the really first sentence by get downing in medias RESs with some flowers which have to be bought. In the mode of the watercourse of consciousness. the reader is confronted with the two characters Clarissa and Sally without any introductory information. The stepping through a door into a new twenty-four hours and Woolf’s construct of it as “a plunge” and other similar metaphors connected with H2O ( “beach. ” “wave” ) are elaborated in The Hours into the image of Clarissa hesitating at the threshold “as she would at the border of a pool. watching the turquoise H2O lapping at the tiles. the liquid cyberspaces of Sun hesitation in the bluish deepnesss. As if standing at the border of a pool she delays for a minute the dip. the speedy membrane of iciness. the field daze of immersion” ( 9 ) . Cunningham therefore does non merely copy Woolf’s imagination ; on the contrary. the images generate new associations. which are developed farther into new images.

Cunningham’s “What a bang. what a shock” ( 10 ) reverberations Woolf’s interjections “What a lark! What a dip! ” ( 5 ) . which mark a passage from the initial scene to the flashback in which Clarissa reminisces about her clip at Bourton. her parents’ state house. herself at age 18 and besides past love Peter Walsh ( which Woolf introduces here ) . This is rewritten in The Hours. where the eighteen-year-old Clarissa — paralleling her namesake in Mrs. Dalloway — is standing at the door taking out into the garden of her parents’ house and so plunges into a new twenty-four hours. her now-lost love Richard followers and turn toing her with her nickname Mrs. Dalloway.

As a comparing of these two beginnings shows. Cunningham adopts but besides adapts Woolf’s manner as if he were a painter copying one of the old Masterss in order to come to a better apprehension of the front tooth ( modernist ) manner and. at the same clip. to better his ain ( postmodernist ) manner. Cunningham does non merely redact his intertext for the 21st century. but he uses it as a model from which he bit by bit liberates himself. developing his ain manner and his ain thoughts. and yet he often reverts to his intertext. confer withing it as if it were a manner manual.

Cunningham continues his manner exercising when he copies the Mrs. Dalloway transition in which an outside position of Clarissa is introduced and she is seen from the position of Scrope Purvis. whose path through London briefly intersects with hers when she is waiting to traverse Victoria Street ( 6 ) . In The Hours. so. this scene is expanded and Scrope Purvis’s comparing of Clarissa to a bird is converted into Willie Bass’s more sarcastic description of her as “a female mammoth already up to its articulatio genuss in the pitch. taking a remainder between attempts. standing bulky and proud. about casual. . . ” ( 13 ) .

And so does Cunningham return to his intertext in his description of Clarissa’s love for the blare of the metropolis. Clarissa Dalloway. holding crossed Victoria Street. hears Large Ben striking the hr and is delighted by the sounds of London:

. . . Large Ben work stoppages. There! Out it boomed. First a warning. musical ; so the hr. irrevokable. The dull circles dissolved in the air. . . . they love life. In people’s eyes. in the swing. the hobo. and trudge ; in the holla and the tumult ; the passenger cars. motor autos. omnibuses. new waves. sandwich work forces scuffling and singing ; brass bands ; barrel variety meats ; in the victory and the jangle and the unusual high vocalizing of some airplane operating expense was what she loved ; life ; London ; this minute in June. ( 6 )

Cunningham retains this captivation for the urban blare. although he updates some of the by now-outmoded sounds which were resounding through the London of the mid-twentiess. such as the shamble of the sandwich work forces. the brass bands. and the barrel variety meats:

. . . work forces whisper offers of drugs ( non to her ) and three black misss whiz past on roller skates and the old adult female sings. tunelessly. iiiiiii. . . . Still. she loves the universe for being ill-mannered and indestructible. and she knows other people must love it excessively. . . . Wheels bombinating on concrete. . . the bleat of auto horns and the strum of guitars ( that ragged group over at that place. three male childs and a miss. could they perchance be playing “Eight Miles High” ? ) ; leaves shimmering on the trees ; a patched Canis familiaris trailing pigeons and a passing wireless playing “Always love you” as the adult female in the black frock bases under the arch singing iiiii. ( 14-15 )

For his manner exercising. Michael Cunningham draws upon his cardinal intertext non merely — as I have demonstrated above — at the beginning of his updated version of Mrs. Dalloway. but he continues to utilize Mrs. Dalloway as a model throughout the whole novel. Parallel to Cunningham’s commendation of Mrs. Dalloway in footings of secret plan. construction. word picture and manner. Richard. the writer in the text. recalls Cunningham’s intertext when he insists on calling Clarissa Vaughan after a great figure in literature: “The name Mrs. Dalloway had been Richard’s idea–a amour propres tossed off one drunken residence hall dark as he assured her that Vaughan was non the proper name for her. She should. he’d said. be named after a great figure in literature. . . . She was destined to capture. to prosper” ( 10-11 ) .

However. he non merely teases Clarissa with her moniker. he besides quotes her namesake when he says to her: “It’s ever fantastic to see you. Mrs. Dalloway” ( 67 ) . He therefore parodies Clarissa Dalloway. who in a missive to Peter Walsh after his surprise visit writes “ [ H ] ow heavenly it was to see him” ( 170 ) and who subsequently at the party says to every invitee: “How delicious to see you! ” ( 184 ) . Cunningham carries on with this interplay between Richard. the writer embedded in the text. and his citations of Mrs. Dalloway when Clarissa Vaughan tells Richard how beautiful and fresh the forenoon was and he replies: “Fresh as if issued to kids on a beach” ( 199 ) . At the terminal of his life. he cites a line taken from the beginning of Mrs. Dalloway ( 5 ) .

Cunningham. by sabotaging a canonical text and yet pulling on it. manipulates a uninterrupted analogue between modernism and postmodernism. and this is duplicated in a mise-en-abyme when Richard. the fictionalised writer. pays court to and yet mocks Mrs. Dalloway. Richard. the fictionalised writer in The Hours citing Mrs. Dalloway. may be understood as the internal repeat of Cunningham. the writer of the narrative as a whole. Richard. nevertheless. goes beyond Mrs. Dalloway. and his last words — “I don’t think two people could hold been happier than we’ve been” ( 200 ) — quote the celebrated missive Virginia Woolf wrote to her hubby three yearss before she committed self-destruction ; a direct citation of the full missive can be found in the prologue to The Hours. where her self-destruction is related ( 6-7 ) . With his last words citing Virginia Woolf. Richard imitates the self-destruction of another writer.

Therefore. his self-destruction. on the one manus. imitates life and. on the other manus. imitates art as it clearly echoes the self-destruction of Septimus Warren Smith. In Mrs. Dalloway. it is his self-destruction that connects the stray subplot with the chief secret plan in a most passing manner when Lady Bradshaw and Sir William Bradshaw. the physician who was handling Septimus. give the self-destruction of “a immature man” as the ground for their delayed reaching at Mrs. Dalloway’s party ( 201 ) . In the same manner that Woolf. throughout the novel. leaves the reader puzzled sing whether the two secret plans should of all time link and what the losing nexus would be. the concluding denouement in The Hours with the meeting of the two independent secret plans — arranged around Clarissa Vaughan and Laura Brown severally — gimmicks the reader unawares when he or she discovers with surprise that the old widow life across from Richard is his female parent Laura Brown ( 221 ) –throughout the novel. the reader has been following a twenty-four hours in her and her boy Richard’s life five decennaries earlier.

While Mrs. Dalloway is the cardinal intertext. it is non the lone work by Virginia Woolf that Michael Cunningham draws upon. One of those texts partially rewritten and woven into The Hours is — though non explicitly referred to — “A Sketch of the Past. : This bill of exchange memoir is non merely Woolf’s most drawn-out autobiographical statement but besides discusses on a metalevel the “fictional” nature of all life and autobiography. Woolf argues here that any representation of the yesteryear ( which is based on “facts” ) is actively molded and changed by our memory and. hence. fictionalised. Woolf begins with her earliest memories:

— I begin: the first memory.

This was of ruddy and violet flowers on a black land — my mother’s frock ; and she was sitting either in a train or in an omnibus. and I was on her lap. I therefore saw the flowers she was have oning really near ; and can still see violet and ruddy and bluish. I think. against the black ; they must hold been windflowers. I suppose. Possibly we were traveling to St Ives ; more likely. for from the visible radiation it must hold been flushing. we were coming back to London. But it is more convenient artistically to say that we were traveling to St Ives. for that will take to my other memory. which besides seems to be my first memory. and in fact it is the most of import of all my memories. . . . It is of lying half asleep. half awake. in bed in the baby’s room at St Ives. It is of hearing the moving ridges interrupting. one. two. one. two. and directing a splash of H2O over the beach ; and so interrupting. one. two. one. two. behind a xanthous blind. It is of hearing the unsighted draw its small acorn across the floor as the air current blew the blind out. It is of lying and hearing this splash and seeing this visible radiation. and experiencing. it is about impossible that I should be here ; of experiencing the purest rapture I can gestate. ( 64-5 )

Not merely is it barely accidental that Cunningham re-uses the name of the seaside town in Cornwall where Woolf spent her childhood summers with her household as a household name for one of the characters. Oliver St. Ives ( 89 ) . but he besides adopts and adapts the content and the manner of this transition as he did with Mrs. Dalloway. However. despite being taken from an autobiographical essay remembering Woolf’s childhood. it is non rewritten into one of the subdivisions entitled “Mrs. Woolf” but is used as a theoretical account for the description of Clarissa Vaughan’s earliest memories:

Standing in forepart of the bookshop window. she is visited by an old memory. a tree subdivision tapping against a window as. from someplace else ( downstairs? ) . swoon music. the low groan of a wind set. started up on a record player. It is non her first memory ( that seems to affect a snail creep over the lip of a kerb ) or even her 2nd ( her mother’s straw sandals. or possibly the two are reversed ) . but this memory more than any other feels pressing and deeply. about preternaturally soothing. Clarissa would hold been in a house in Wisconsin. likely ; one of the many her parents rented during the summers ( seldom the same one twice — each proved to hold some defect for her female parent to sew into her on-going narrative. the Vaughan Family’s Trail of Tears Tour of the Wisconsin Dells ) .

Clarissa would hold been three or four. in a house to which she would ne’er return. about which she retains no remembrance except this. utterly distinct. clearer than some things that happened yesterday: a subdivision tapping at a window as the sound of horns began ; as if the tree. being unsettled by air current. had somehow caused the music. It seems that at that minute she began to populate the universe ; to understand the promises implied by an order larger than human felicity. though it contained human felicity along with every other emotion. ( 22-3 )

A elaborate comparing of this transition with its intertext shows in what ways Cunningham ( while maintaining the original scene of a vacation house rented out for the summer ) once more updates and transportations the content to a North-American scene more than half a century subsequently but basically retains the manner of the intertext. even though he adjusts the first-person narration to the 3rd individual and. accordingly. wantonnesss the metalevel. on which Woolf as the writer perceives literature’s demand for changing the yesteryear in order to derive more unstable passages. However. the uncertainness when remembering the yesteryear is expressed by both Virginia Woolf and Clarissa Vaughan in their trouble in nailing their very foremost memory.

They both at first depict a ocular memory. which is so abandoned for a more of import aural memory. which itself can be broken down into two separate rhythmical aural esthesiss: in Woolf’s text. the breakage of the moving ridges in the distance and the air current blowing the blind out. which in its bend draws its acorn across the floor. whereas in Cunningham’s text. the air current is the cause for the tree subdivision tapping against the window. and Clarissa can do out swoon music from a record player. And they both experience a strong emotion of being alive and of huge joy at this minute. though the words chosen to picture this
minute are non the same.

In “A Sketch of the Past. ” Woolf besides describes what she calls “moments of being. ” exceeding minutes in which “something happened so violently that I have remembered it all my life” ( 70 ) . They form a contrast to the “moments of non-being. ” the greater portion of the twenty-four hours which is “not lived consciously” ( 70 ) . Modelled on these two footings coined by Woolf. Cunningham introduces the impression of “unbeing” : upon her return from the hotel. where she had spent the afternoon reading Mrs. Dalloway. Laura Brown “is overtaken by a esthesis of unbeing. There is no other word for it. . . . she is no 1. she is nothing” ( 188 ) . After holding spent a twosome of hours on her ain outside her function as a married woman and female parent. she feels that she has “slipped out of her life” ( 188 ) . Even though Cunningham does non explicitly declare “A Sketch of the Past” as an intertext for The Hours. the strongly implied similarities between the two transitions presented here and the originative mode in which Cunningham trades with his intertext are non lost on an attentive reader familiar with Woolf’s major plants.

However. The Hours echoes non merely — as shown above — Woolf’s works in footings of manner and secret plan but besides in footings of thoughts. That Cunningham names one character “Mrs. Brown” is non strictly inadvertent. moreover. it is an intertextual mention to Woolf’s article “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown. ” which formed the footing for the paper “Character in Fiction” ( which was subsequently issued as a booklet under its original rubric ) . In these two essays — both exerted a powerful influence on literary modernism — Woolf evokes the figure of Mrs. Brown. who rose before her and said: “My name is Brown. Catch me if you can” ( Character 420 ) . The gaining control of Mrs. Brown. the representation of the character who is “eternal” and stands for “human nature” ( 430 ) . is the major intent of any novel. The ( modernist ) author “must set about to refashion the adult female after his ain idea” ( Mr. Bennett 387 ) ; “it is from the glows and flashes of this winging spirit that he must make solid. life. flesh-and-blood Mrs. Brown” ( 388 ) . In The Hours. the lone supporter who is neither based on historical facts ( like the characters in the biographical subdivisions on Mrs. Woolf ) nor on fiction ( like the characters in the subdivisions rewriting Mrs. Dalloway ) is Laura Brown. It seems as if Cunningham had set out here on the chase of Mrs.

Brown. as if he was traveling to “remake the adult female after his ain thought. ” but — as I am traveling to demo — the character of Laura Brown is non wholly free of intertextual mentions. non even of mentions to the essay which discusses the really thought of Mrs. Brown. in which Woolf. during a journey in a railroad passenger car. invents a narrative for the adult female sitting opposite her and whom she comes to name “Mrs. Brown. ” She imagines “that. holding been deserted. or left a widow. old ages ago. she had led an dying. annoyed life. conveying up an lone boy. possibly. who. every bit likely as non. was by this clip get downing to travel to the bad” ( Character 423 ) . And so is Laura Brown at the terminal of the fresh all entirely. after her ex-husband has been carried off by liver malignant neoplastic disease. her girl has been killed by a rummy driver and her boy. the lone member of the household left. has committed self-destruction ( 222 ) .

The — for the novelist. imperative — chase of Mrs. Brown. nevertheless. is non the lone construct Cunningham takes from Woolf’s plants and rewrites into The Hours. In her paper “Professions for Women. ” Woolf speaks of her ain professional experience as a adult female author and the obstructions she encountered foremost while reexamining other authors and so while composing novels. One obstruction for the professional adult female author of her coevals was The Angel in the House:

I will depict her every bit shortly as I can. She was intensely sympathetic. She was vastly capturing. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the hard humanistic disciplines of household life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was a poulet. she took the leg ; if there was a draught she sat in it — in short she was so established that she ne’er had a head or a want of her ain. but preferred to sympathise ever with the heads and wants of others. ( 1987 )

This apparition of The Angel in the House — which Woolf. moving in self-defense. had to kill in the terminal in order to be able to compose freely — is modelled on the heroine of Coventry Patmore’s long verse form of the same name. itself an intertext to Cunningham’s intertext. This best-seller of the Victorian epoch ( Woolf’s mother owned a transcript of it with a personal lettering by the writer himself ) is dedicated to Patmore’s first married woman and expresses the Victorian ideal of married love. It tells the wooing and matrimony of Honoria. a miss perfectly simple. pure. gentle. sort. and unselfish — in short. the really paradigm of a Victorian lady and about literally an angel on Earth. For a married woman. though. being The Angel in the House implies that her hubby is the Godhead and bases above her. Patmore. hence. peculiarly congratulationss Honoria’s manner of raising him up: “On wings of love uplifted free. / And by her gradualness made great. / I’ll learn how baronial adult male should be / To fit with such a lovely mate. . . ” ( 71 ) . As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar comment. the indispensable virtuousness of The Angel in the House is that her virtuousness makes her poet-husband “great” ( 22 ) .

The fictional character of The Angel in the House pervaded Victorian civilization. and — one might reason — other civilizations as good. holding an oppressive consequence on women’s lives. In The Hours. all three female supporters struggle in one manner or the other with this apparition of a perfect and devoted married woman. even Clarissa Vaughan. although one might believe that this male construct of Victorian muliebrity would no longer hold an consequence on a modern Western adult female who lives in New York City at the terminal of the 20th century and. on top of this. is a sapphic and therefore — one might presume — bases apart from this gendered ideal.

However. Clarissa. excessively. sees her indispensable virtuousness in delighting others ; she wants to give Richard a perfect party: “She will give Richard the best party she can pull off. She will seek to make something temporal. even fiddling. but perfect in its manner. She will see to it that he is surrounded by people who truly respect and admire him. . . ” ( 123 ) . By carry throughing such a fiddling undertaking as composing a guest-list of people esteeming and look up toing Richard. a guest-list which should do Richard “great. ” Clarissa submits herself to the Victorian ideal of The Angel in the House. Furthermore. she thinks of it as “her testimonial. her gift” and can non believe of anything more she could offer him ( 123 ) .

Clarissa’s other actions fit good with her end of “offering” Richard the perfect party: for case. she arranges the flowers she has bought for the party ( 123 ) . a undertaking really much associated with muliebrity and good housework. When Louis asks for a simple glass of H2O. Clarissa goes into the kitchen and “returns with two spectacless of H2O ( carbonated. with ice and lemon ) ” ( 127 ) ; by doing a fiddling glass of H2O perfect in its manner. she makes an art out of housekeeping. The level she has together with Sally is furnished with gustatory sensation and could be featured in a calendered magazine for interior design ( 91. 127 ) . So it comes as no surprise that Richard told Clarissa one time. 30 old ages earlier. that “under her pirate-girl veneer lay all the devisings of a good suburban married woman. . . ” ( 16 ) . and that he thinks that she “has. at bosom. go a society married woman. . . ” ( 20 ) . [ 4 ] Even though she would reject this idea. Clarissa has submitted herself to the appeals of The Angel in the House.

If — as Richard claims — Clarissa “stands non merely for herself but for the gifts and infirmities of her full sex” ( 19 ) . this ideal of muliebrity should besides be found with other female characters in The Hours. Consequently. even the younger coevals represented by Clarissa’s girl Julia. who is about to drag her loath girl-friend Mary Krull on a shopping fling. “could be some cheerful married woman. shepherding her hubby through a twenty-four hours of errands. She could be a figure from the 1950ss. if you made a few comparatively minor alterations” ( 159 ) . These few exterior changes are like the 1s Cunningham makes when he transcodes the word pictures of the anterior text Mrs. Dalloway to The Hours.

Compared with the other subdivisions. the apparition of The Angel in the House is less outstanding in the subdivisions depicting Woolf’s twenty-four hours. but there are. however. some allusions to it. In a comfortable Victorian family. the married woman was in charge of the retainers. and covering with retainers was frequently regarded as a accomplishment in its ain right: “There’s an art to it. as there’s an art to everything. . . ” ( 115 ) . Woolf. though. battles with it and envies her female parent and her sister Vanessa. who seem to pull off this art “beautifully” ( 87 ) . Because she neglected her responsibilities as the lady of the house and failed to discourse the bill of fare with her amah Nelly in the forenoon and because she wants to offer Vanessa a pudding fancier than pears. she particularly sends Nelly to London for China tea and sugared ginger ( 86 ) .

In the subdivisions entitled “Mrs. Brown. ” now. we have a yearning to match to this idealized image of the Angel in the House but besides. at the same clip. an inability to carry through these demands. Consequently. Laura Brown finds herself on the brink of lunacy. When the reader foremost is introduced to her. she is reading in bed and feeling guilty that she is non up yet: “She should be out of bed. showered and dressed. repairing breakfast for Dan and Richie. . . . She should be at that place. shouldn’t she? She should be standing before the range in her new robe. full of simple. promoting talk” ( 38 ) . “ [ T ] o execute simple and basically foolish undertakings. to analyze tomatoes. to sit under a hair dryer” is what “her art and duty” is ( 42 ) . She should be executing the portion of the happy homemaker ; a function which she feels she is unable to move convincingly and in which she feels like an imposter: “ [ S ] he felt the dank esthesis around her. the nowhere feeling. and knew it was traveling to be a hard twenty-four hours. She knew she was traveling to hold problem believing in herself. . . ” ( 38 ) .

However. as Gilbert and Gubar argue. The Angel in the House is non the lone function work forces have traditionally assigned to adult females: the other extreme of functions generated for adult females is its mirror image. “its necessary opposite and dual. ” the “monster” in the house ( 17 ) . In their analysis of male perceptual experiences of adult females in literature. they demonstrate that “the monster may non merely be concealed behind the angel. she may really turn out to shack within ( or the lower half of ) the angel” ( 29. italics in original ) . Equally much as Laura desires to win in her function as “a idol of domestic competence” ( 107 ) . she besides has to wrestle with another apparition. the “woman of sorrows. ” the really opposite of the cheerful homemaker: “She wants to be loved. She wants to be a competent female parent reading calmly to her kid ; she wants to be a married woman who sets a perfect tabular array. She does non desire. non at all. to be the unusual adult female. the hapless animal. full of oddities and furies. lone. pouting. tolerated but non loved” ( 101 ) .

In order to get the better of this apparition skulking within her and interfering with her day-to-day function of a devoted married woman and happy female parent. she decides to bake the perfect bar for her husband’s birthday. “a cake that banishes sorrow. even if merely for a small while” ( 144 ) . The bar is a agency to re-establish her function as The Angel in the House and as this. it “will speak of premium and delight the manner a good house speaks of comfort and safety” ( 76 ) . Thus the minute she imagines her bar as calendered and glorious as any exposure of a bar in any magazine. she feels that “ [ s ] he is herself and she is the perfect image of herself ; there is no difference” ( 76 ) .

At this minute. the ideal of The Angel in the House runs with world. When image and self correspond to each other. Laura is at easiness with herself because the baleful figure of the adult female of sorrows seems to be banished. However. the bar does non turn out every bit beautiful as envisioned. In Laura’s eyes. it does non stand up to her outlooks: “Her bar is a failure” ( 100 ) . She terrors. and her subsequent flight from her incompetency in executing her assigned function ends at the Normandy. a hotel on the outskirts of Los Angeles. where Laura realises that “she’s come. in some vague manner. to get away a cake” ( 147 ) .

In her flight from her inability to move the portion of The Angel in the House. a function she has non rehearsed. Laura is looking for “somewhere private. silent. where she can read. where she can believe. . . . Even a library would be excessively public. every bit would a park” ( 145 ) . In her pursuit for a private infinite where she can be on her ain and does non hold to execute. she eventually finds safety in a impersonal hotel room. where she spends the afternoon reading Mrs. Dalloway. This thought that a adult female needs the privateness of a room she has of her ain clearly echoes the claim Woolf makes in her ground-breaking essay on adult females and fiction. A Room of One’s Own: “ [ A ] adult female must hold money and a room of her ain if she is to compose fiction. . . ” ( 1927 ) .

In The Hours. nevertheless. the intent has changed: the room is no longer used for composing fiction entirely. but the claim has been extended beyond the originative act of composing to the act of reading. Even the economic facet of Woolf’s demand for money and a room to oneself is recalled when Laura. before look intoing into the hotel. asks herself how much a room costs and if she can save the money: “Yes. it’s uneconomical — a hotel room for an full dark. when all she means to make is sit there reading for two hours or so — but money is non peculiarly tight right now. and she runs the family with comparative thrift” ( 146 ) . Women therefore foremost necessitate a certain grade of fiscal independency before they can afford a room of their ain.

The hotel itself is described as “V-shaped” ( 146 ) . a mention to Virginia Woolf and likely besides to the dust jacket of the first edition of A Room of One’s Own. designed by her sister Vanessa Bell. which incorporates a clock whose custodies show ten to two. organizing a “V” ( Hussey 232. 237 ) . This point is supported by the fact that the V-shaped architecture is farther described in The Hours as “twin white ten-story wings” ( 146. italics mine ) and therefore repeat the clip shown on the clock.

The minute Laura enters the anteroom. she feels that she has reached her finish: “This hotel. this anteroom. is exactly what she wants — the cool nowhere of it. the speckless non-smell. the alert unemotional approachs and departures. She feels. instantly. like a citizen of this place” ( 146-7. italics mine ) . What attracts her is the absence of any distinguishable qualities. that the topographic point is void of any features. She seems to stand on impersonal land where neither The Angel in the House nor her mirror-image. The Woman of Sorrows. reign. In “her” room ( 149 ) . so. she feels “safe” and thinks that “ [ H ] aving this room to herself seems both dainty and whorish” ( 150 ) . once more remembering the two utmost functions work forces have traditionally assigned to adult females: the angel and the monster. Here. nevertheless. they do non look to be unreconcilable antonyms any longer. since the two constructs are both present at the same clip.

So far. I have discussed the intertextuality between Michael Cunningham’s The Hours and. taking Mrs. Dalloway as an obvious get downing point. Virginia Woolf’s works. However. the intertextual mentions in The Hours go beyond Virginia Woolf and besides include Doris Lessing. Though there are some indispensable differences between the two adult females authors. in many ways. they are similar. Some of the similarities Jean Tobin specifies are that they both are major British adult females novelists. “complementary in that they have neatly divided up the 20th century between them ; ” that both have written novels permeated with the sights and odors of their topographic point of abode. London ; that they both have been rapacious readers ; both have been vitally interested in the workings of the head in lunacy ; and that they both have been foreigners ( 149 ) . [ 5 ] In the range of this essay. the most relevant similarity is that they both wrote books of great value to adult females. books which have made a great impact on women’s authorship and the women’s motion. yet neither of them would hold called herself a women’s rightist.

Many critics have described A Room of One’s Own as the establishing text of modern feminist literary theory. in which Woolf stresses in her history of women’s composing the importance of a literary tradition. the importance of other adult females authors such as Jane Austen. Emily and Charlotte Bronte . George Eliot and others who had gone earlier her to fix the manner because “we think back through our female parents if we are women” ( 1966 ) — intending the literary foremothers every bit good as the biological female parents. In The Hours. the importance of female parents and enation prevails throughout the novel. particularly in the manner Laura Brown is a biological female parent to Richard and Woolf is a literary foremother to Cunningham. so that. by including intertexts by Lessing. a line of descent can be traced from Woolf to Lessing and on to Cunningham.

Apart from Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. which is mentioned explicitly in The Hours. her short narrative “To Room Nineteen” is indirectly alluded to when Laura Brown is given a hotel room with the same figure ( 148 ) . However. Cunningham does non go forth it at that: moreover. the chief secret plan of the subdivisions entitled “Mrs. Brown” is based on Lessing’s short narrative. which is about a female parent of four kids populating — as it appears on the surface — in a perfect matrimony. She. excessively. feels an imposter in household life and longs for some private infinite: “She dreamed of holding a room or a topographic point. anyplace. where she could travel and sit. by herself. no 1 knowing where she was” ( 2311 ) .

She eventually finds a room – room 19 – in a instead seedy hotel. which she rents from clip to clip for the twenty-four hours and where she retreats to in order to pass the twenty-four hours in an “absolute purdah. ” where no 1 knows her or attentions for her ( 2312 ) . Her easy increasing insanity. which she is cognizant of as she sees in the looking glass “the contemplation of a madwoman” ( 2314 ) . is yet another case of the ill-famed duality between the angel and the monster. which is recalled in The Hours by The Woman of Sorrows.

While the beginning for the secret plan of the subdivisions entitled “Mrs. Brown” is non overtly declared. another book by the same writer is explicitly mentioned: the eighteen-year old Clarissa had a transcript of The Golden Notebook on her nightstand. but this was more than thirty old ages ago and “Lessing has been long overshadowed by other authors. . . ” ( 98 ) .

Clarissa therefore acknowledges a line of descent but besides a certain distance she has gained from the women’s motion of the 1960ss. which about instantly hailed The Golden Notebook as their Bible when it was published in 1962. By calling the supporter of her mostly autobiographical novel Anna Wulf. Lessing clearly invokes Virginia Woolf as a literary foremother. Anna Wulf is a individual female parent life in post-war London. disillusioned with the Communist party. who is seeking to come to footings with her life. In order to suppress her writer’s block encountered while composing her fresh “Free Women. ” she deconstructs her life in four notebooks. each notebook showing a aspect of her life: the black notebook trades with her yesteryear in Africa. the ruddy notebook records her ideas on the current political relations. the xanthous notebook depicts her effort to fictionalize her writer’s block. and the bluish notebook is intended as a personal journal. Sections of these notebooks are inserted between subdivisions of her fresh “Free Women. ” which narrates Anna’s life from the all-knowing narrator’s point of position but which is a battle for her to complete.

This fractured. postmodern construction. with the different strands divided up into subdivisions alternatively of chapters inspired Cunningham in his administration of The Hours. where three separate strands. each centred on a individual twenty-four hours in the life of a different individual. run parallel and form single units. though they besides intersect as they all relate in one manner or the other to Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The construction of The Hours is all the more modelled on The Golden Notebook where in a concluding denouement all falls into topographic point when Anna realises that the four notebooks fail to incorporate her multiple egos into a incorporate whole and. consequently. she abandons her notebooks. making out of the fragments an interior Golden Notebook. So. holding found herself in the thick of an emotional dislocation. she breaks through and writes down the first sentence of her new book: “The two adult females were entirely in the London flat” ( 547 ) . the really same sentence her fresh “Free Women” opened with at the beginning of The Golden Notebook ( 9 ) . The reader now perceives that this is the novel he or she has been reading all along and that the assorted notebooks are eventually united in one book.

Such a concluding denouement. where the different strands come together. is besides found in Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. where the subplot around Septimus Warren Smith connects with the chief secret plan in a most evanescent manner — and unexpected by the reader — at the terminal of the novel. and in The Hours. where the secret plan takes an unexpected bend and Laura Brown all of a sudden appears 50 old ages subsequently in a subdivision entitled “Mrs. Dalloway. ” though the reader ever thought the three strands to be independent. chiefly because of their temporal and spacial distance. In the same manner as we are now able to retrace a biological line of descent from Laura. the female parent. to her boy Richard. the similar constructions of the three novels display a mental line of descent from Woolf to Lessing and on to Cunningham.

With a construction modelled on the constructions of Mrs. Dalloway and The Golden Notebook. Cunningham pays court to his foremothers. However. he does non follow his predecessors slavishly ; he instead adapts them for his ain intents. Whereas the double narration of Mrs. Dalloway centres around the two chief characters. and the different narrative strands in The Golden Notebook display the different interior aspects of an person. in The Hours. the ternary narrative splits up the literary experience into the writer ( the “Mrs. Woolf” subdivision ) . the text ( the “Mrs. Dalloway” subdivision ) . and the reader ( the “Mrs. Brown” subdivision ) . Even though a reader of The Hours conceives of those three narrative strands as independent. he or she perceives the structural analogues and intersections as parts of a incorporate whole.

How Cunningham makes the three factors of the literary experience interact can be shown. for illustration. in the manner the metaphor of the “plunge” is used throughout the different subdivisions. The metaphor itself is taken from the beginning of the cardinal intertext. Mrs. Dalloway: “What a lark! What a dip! For so it had ever seemed to her when. . . she had burst open the Gallic Windowss and plunged at Bourton into the unfastened air” ( 5 ) . [ 6 ] In Cunningham’s fictionalised history of the originative act of composing. Virginia Woolf’s determination to travel on a excursion to London is the trigger for her interjection: “What a lark! What a dip! ” ( 167 ) . The thought of the dip. nevertheless. is introduced before when Virginia Woolf. the inscribed writer. dreams that “ [ a ] rock maiden. smoothed by the conditions. stands at the border of a clear pool and muses into the water” ( 30 ) . The stimulation for Cunningham to utilize the image of the inspirational Muse was likely Peter’s inquiry — “Musing among the veggies? ” ( 5 ) — which follows Woolf’s description of Clarissa Dalloway immersing into a new twenty-four hours. This construct is repeated when Woolf. functioning as Cunningham’s Muse. causes him to compose the scene of the dip based on the inspirations she has given him: “ . . .

Clarissa intermissions at the threshold as she would at the border of a pool. watching the turquoise H2O lapping at the tiles. the liquid cyberspaces of Sun hesitation in the bluish deepnesss. As if standing at the border of a pool she delays for a minute the dip. the speedy membrane of iciness. the field daze of immersion” ( 9 ) . The literary experience. nevertheless. goes beyond the text itself and the originative act of authorship ; it includes the act of reading. excessively. Laura Brown. after holding read Woolf’s initial transition depicting Clarissa’s dip into the fresh air at Bourton — the transition is quoted verbatim in The Hours ( 38-9 ) — echoes this image: “Summoning resoluteness. as if she were approximately to plunge into cold H2O. Laura closes the book. . . ” ( 41 ) . By agencies of the assorted interconnectednesss and analogues between the different narrative strands. Cunningham constructs an fanciful discharge running from the writer to the text and on to the reader. Even though both writer and reader are fictionalised in The Hours and. accordingly. are non based upon empirical facts. they however let penetrations into how Cunningham as an writer and reader conceives of the Acts of the Apostless of authorship and reading.

By giving one of the three narrative strands to the reader. Cunningham acknowledges that the reader is non a mere consumer of literature but that the really act of reading calls the text into being — a claim made by reader-response unfavorable judgment. Although the bookmans assembled under this umbrella term support widely diverging theories. they all agree that a text can non be regarded as an absolute entity standing on its ain and that the significance of a text is created through the procedure of reading ( Bennett and Royle 12 ) . Bennett comments in his wide-ranging debut to reader-response unfavorable judgment that the modern. post-enlightenment construct of reading “involves a disintegration of the universe and the reader’s ego into the book” ( 5 ) . This thought of a “falling off of the barriers between you and it” ( Poulet 104 ) . between the universe of reader and the universe of the book. between world and fiction is documented in The Hours. where the three narrative strands represent parallel universes and where Laura Brown. reading the first lines of Mrs. Dalloway. attempts to come in another universe: “Laura Brown is seeking to lose herself. No. that’s non it exactly–she is seeking to maintain herself by deriving entry into a parallel world” ( 37 ) .

However. the phenomenon of literature as an interaction between text and reader can be extended to the writer. who in his or her bend tries to come in a parallel universe ; like Virginia Woolf in The Hours. who. before seting the first sentence down to paper. thinks that she might interrupt the barrier and range this other universe: “This forenoon she may perforate the bewilderment. the clotted pipes. to make the gold. She can experience it inside her. an all but indefinable 2nd ego. or instead a analogue. purer self” ( 34 ) . Hence it follows that the act of reading is non merely an interaction between a literary work and its receiver but a merger of writer. text. and reader: “I am person who happens to hold as objects of his ain idea. ideas which are portion of a book I am reading. and which are therefore the cogitations of another. They are the ideas of another. and yet it is I who am their topic. . . . This I who thinks in me when I read a book. is the I of the 1 who writes the book” ( Poulet 106. 108. italics in original ) .

This cardinal facet of Poulet’s “Phenomenology of Reading. ” the merger of writer. text and reader. can besides be found in The Hours. where Laura Brown. after holding spent the afternoon reading Mrs. Dalloway off in a hotel room. discovers that the barriers between herself. the text. and the writer have fallen down: “Laura occupies a dusky zone of kinds. . . . She is herself and non herself. She is a adult female in London. an blue blood. picket and charming. a small false ; she is Virginia Woolf ; and she is this other. the inchoate. toppling thing known as herself. . . ” ( 187 ) . The reader is host non merely to the text. which comes into being through the act of reading. but besides to the writer. whose ideas and feelings are written into the text because “ [ I ] T is his agencies of salvaging his individuality from death” ( Poulet 108 ) .

As Clayton and Rothstein show. a strong reader-response theory is connected with some signifier of intertextuality ( 16 ) because. after all. it is the reader who discovers the inter- in intertextuality ; it is the reader who disentangles the different intertextual strands ; it is the reader who is the organizing Centre of reading. Roland Barthes comments that if a text is “a multi-dimensional infinite in which are married and contested several Hagiographas. none of which is original. ” “a cloth of citations. ensuing from a thousand beginnings of civilization. ” so it follows that “the author can merely copy an of all time anterior. ne’er original gesture ; his exclusive power is to mix Hagiographas. to counter some by others. so every bit ne’er to trust on merely one” ( 52-53 ) .

Subsequently. Barthes proclaims “the decease of the Author” ( with a capital A. mentioning to the Godhead qualities frequently attributed to this figure ) . The “death of the Author. ” nevertheless. is synonymous with “the birth of the reader” ( 55 ) . since it is the act of reading which generates the significance of a text: “ [ T ] here is a site where this multiplicity [ of Hagiographas ] is collected. and this site is non the writer. as has hitherto been claimed. but the reader: the reader is the really infinite in which are inscribed. . . all the commendations out of which a authorship is made ; the integrity of a text is non in its beginning but in its finish. . . ” ( 54 ) .

Ironically plenty. The Hours is framed by the deceases of two writers: the prologue. based on facts. recounts the self-destruction of a existent writer. Virginia Woolf. and the fresh terminals with the self-destruction of Richard. the fictional writer. copying the self-destruction of Septimus Warren Smith. a fictional character — and it is Laura Brown. the reader. who outlives all the others:

So Laura Brown. the adult female who tried to decease and failed at it. the adult female who fled her household. is alive when all the others. all those who struggled to last in her aftermath. have passed off. She is alive now. after her ex-husband has been carried off by liver malignant neoplastic disease. after her girl has been killed by a rummy driver. She is alive after Richard has jumped from a window onto a bed of broken glass. ( 222 )

Similarly. the writer Cunningham commits suicide as he — by taking medley as his rhetorical device and both imitating and transforming anterior texts — denies the originary originative power of the god-like Author. However. he is reincarnated in the signifier of the reader because. as a compiler of anterior texts. he has to read avidly and voraciously. By giving one of the three narrative strands to the reader. Cunningham splits up the traditional binary relationship between the writer and the text and introduces a 3rd component. which completes the literary experience.

Reading therefore becomes portion of the originative act of composing. as Kristeva in her intertextual reading of Bakhtin’s thoughts comments: “When he speaks of ‘two waies unifying within the narrative’ Bakhtin considers composing as a reading of the anterior literary principal and the text as an soaking up of and a answer to another text” ( 69 ) . From her abstract theoretical account exemplifying the duologue between the author ( “subject of narration” ) and the reader ( “addressee” ) ( 74-5 ) follows that in intertextual authorship — like in the Bakhtinian “polyphonic novel” ( 71 ) — the author is at the same clip a reader: “The writer’s middleman. so. is the author himself. but as the reader of another text. The 1 who writes is the same who reads. Since his middleman is a text. he himself is no more than a text rereading itself as it rewrites itself” ( 86-7 ) .

For the author-turned-reader Cunningham. the act of reading assumes greater importance than the act of composing as ample research and reading is required for an accurate representation of Woolf’s life and for the digest of a medley out of her plants. In order to compose The Hours. he had to read non merely all the lifes and critical articles listed at the terminal of the novel in “A Note on Sources” ( 229-30 ) but besides — as I have shown in this essay — several of Woolf’s plants on top of Mrs. Dalloway. And so does the inscribed reader. Laura Brown. who is an ceaseless reader. a “bookworm” ( 40 ) : “Right now she is reading Virginia Woolf. all of Virginia Woolf. book by book. . . ” ( 42 )

. And so was Woolf herself an avid and rapacious reader as she confesses in A Room of One’s Own: “Like most uneducated Englishwomen. I like reading — I like reading books in the bulk” ( 1983 ) . When she died. she left among all her other works 67 volumes of her reading notebooks. most of whose entries concern books she reviewed or used in one of her critical or biographical essays ( Hussey 227 ) . Cunningham. so. by giving one of the three narrative strands to the reader and by widening Woolf’s demand for a room of one’s ain for composing to a room of one’s ain for reading. acknowledges the critical portion the act of reading dramas for the author.

If the act of reading is the 3rd component finishing the literary experience. is the reader so the “third tiger”