I always love the purity of the pieces you write on and around Virginia Woolf. I happen to be in the middle of an intensive study of her work – presently re-reading all her diaries, then her collected letters, then back to her books again. I’m 87, so the process is necessarily slow! Like you I probably look upon Mrs Dalloway as her masterpiece; but it is a close run thing with To The Lighthouse.
I too love to read and re-read all the books that have become firm favourites over the years, and each time I have noticed something new here and there – maybe something I was too young or immature to understand during earlier readings. Good authors give us that pleasure, the interweaving of many layers of character and plot.
I look forward to any pieces you write here in future!
But Why, exactly? At least, that’s what I kept wondering. What is its place in the Literary World? Is there something about the title which merits its consideration alongside the women writers we’ve come to expect on lists of The 1000 Great…, or The Best Women Writers, or The Canon (by whomever is compiling that list). Does Plath’s fiction deserve consideration in the same breath as, say, Austen, Woolf, Choose-Your-Own-Bronte, or the more contemporary O’Connor, Morrison, Ducornet, etc. In other words, was Plath, as a fiction writer, Literary?
The second stanza is significant because it, as Gill explains, "exposes...the woman's need of the mirror [and] the mirror's need of the woman." When the mirror has nothing but the wall to stare at, the world is truthful, objective, factual, and "exact," but when the woman comes into view, the world becomes messy, unsettling, complicated, emotional, and vivid. Thus, the mirror is "no longer a boundary but a limninal and penetrable space." It reflects more than an image - it reflects its own desires and understanding about the world.