In Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘How It Strikes a Contemporary’—published in 1923, the year in which Mrs. Dalloway is set—she wrote: We are sharply cut off from our predecessors. A shift in the scale—the sudden slip of masses held in position for ages—has shaken the fabric from top to bottom, alienated us from the past and made us perhaps too vividly conscious of the present. Every day we find ourselves doing, saying, or thinking things that would have been impossible to our fathers … No age can have been more rich than ours in writers determined to give expression to the differences which separate them from the past and not to the resemblances which connect them with it. (E III, 357) This sense of a great rupture is remarked upon in Mrs. Dalloway (1925) by Peter Walsh, the expatriate Indian administrator, recently returned to England and observing London on a gorgeous June day. Rather than locate the source of the split between past and present in the First World War, Peter places it a little later.
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