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1925 __ « Mrs Dalloway » — messages in the sky
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
Original excerpt : « As Clarissa Dalloway walks through London on a fine June morning, a sky-writing plane captures her attention. Crowds stare upwards to decipher the message while the plane turns and loops, leaving off one letter, picking up another. While the message of a skywriting aeroplane connects disparate characters across the city –- Mr. Bowley, Maisie Johnson, Clarissa, Rezia –- for Septimus, the writing signals a private message that only he can discern: “All down the mall people were standing and looking up into the sky. As they looked the whole world became perfectly silent, and a flight of gulls crossed the sky, first one gull leading, then another, and in this extraordinary silence and peace, in this pallor, in this purity, bells struck eleven times, the sound fading up there among the gulls.So, thought Septimus, looking up, they are signalling to me. Not indeed in actual words; that is, he could not read the language yet; but it was plain enough, this beauty, this exquisite beauty, and tears filled his eyes as he looked at the smoke words languishing and melting in the sky and bestowing upon him in their inexhaustible charity and laughing goodness one shape after another of unimaginable beauty and signalling their intention to provide him, for nothing, for ever, for looking merely, with beauty, more beauty! Tears ran down his cheeks. It was toffee; they were advertising toffee, a nursemaid told Rezia. » (Virginia Woolf, “Mrs Dalloway”, pp. 20-22)
Source : Woolf, Virginia (1925), « Mrs Dalloway », London : Hogarth Press.

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