The Hours by Michael Cunningham


Michael Cunningham's The Hours is a book about a book. The main lead is Virgina Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and the three women the book connects. In present day New York Clarissa Vaughn is throwing a party for her friend Richard, who years ago nicknamed her Mrs. Dalloway. In 1940's suburban Los Angeles, Laura Brown feels trapped trying to be the perfect wife and mother, reading Mrs. Dalloway. And there's Virginia Woolf herself, around the time she was writing Mrs. Dalloway. 

There are a lot of common themes in all three stories. For me the most powerful was escape from reality. All three women experience some sort of escape from reality. Laura drives to a hotel, to spend a few hours in a turquoise room, just reading Mrs. Dalloway, trying to escape her suffocating everyday life. No matter how much she wants to do the right thing, to be a perfect wife and mother, in her own eyes she fails. She can't even bake a perfect cake for her husband's birthday. All she ever wanted to do was read. Virgina Woolf wants to return to London, to go to parties, be a part of city life again. She wants to escape into life. She probably would have left if her husband didn't come after her. Clarissa's friend Richard escapes in a different way, he literally takes a plunge into death.

There are other shared images throughout the book: for example yellow roses (the ones Clarissa buys for the party, ones in Laura's kitchen and there are yellow roses in Virginia's garden), a kiss (Clarissa and Richard, Laura and her friend Kitty, Virginia and her sister Vanessa); and shared themes like suicide, homosexuality and literature. All shared themes and images form a network of lines connecting Mrs. Dalloway with The Hours, the characters of both books, events, and the writer with his readers. I think creating this book didn't end the moment Cunningham decided it did. Instead it is a form of constant collaboration between the author and the readers following the lines, noticing shared images, giving them a proper place in a mosaic they created themselves.

And there's my recurring image, the one that seems to appear in every other book I read lately, the layers of time superimposing, in a conversation between Clarissa and Richard, about a kiss beside the pond.

"You kissed me beside a pond."
"Ten thousand years ago."
"It's still happening."
"In a sense, yes."
"In reality. It is happening in that present. This is happening in this present."

I loved The Hours and I loved Cunningham's writing. I think I'll read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway to see what new perspectives were opened by The Hours.

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Ure Michela Cunninghama so knjiga o knjigi. Glavna junakinja je knjiga, Mrs. Dalloway Virginie Woolf, ki povezuje tri ženske, ki živijo v različnih časih. V današnjem New Yorku Clarissa Vaughn pripravlja zabavo za Richarda, ki jo že od mladosti kliče Mrs. Dalloway. V predmestju Los Angelesa v 40. letih dvajsetega stoletja Laura Borwn bere Mrs. Dalloway. Tretja je Virginia Woolf v času, ko je pisala roman Mrs. Dalloway.

Vse tri zgodbe vsebujejo številne skupne teme, vendar je name največji vtis naredil beg pred resničnostjo. Vsaka od treh žensk ga na neki točki v življenju izkusi. Laura se odpelje v hotel, kar tako, da bi se umaknila od dolgočasnega vsakdana in samo brala. Trudi se, da bi opravljala svoje dolžnosti tako kot je treba, vednar ne more mimo občutka, da ni uspela biti popolna žena in mati. Niti popolne torte za možev rojstni dan ne more speči. V resnici si želi samo brati. Virginia Woolf si želi vrniti se v London, obiskovati zabave, biti del mestnega življenja, ki ga pogreša. Želi si zbežati v življenje. Če je mož ne bi dohitel na železniški postaji, bi ji verjetno celo uspelo. Clarissin prijatelj Richard zbeži na drugačen način, zbeži dokončno, ko skoči v smrt.

Poleg bega pred resničnostjo, so v knjigi tudi številni drugi ponavljajoči se motivi. Na primer rumene vrtnice (tiste, ki jih kupi Clarissa, tiste v Laurini kuhinji pa tudi tiste v Virginijinem vrtu), poljub (med Clarisso in Richardom, Lauro in njeno prijateljico Kitty in med Virginijo in njeno sestro Vanesso) pa tudi skupne teme kot so samomor, homoseksualnost in literatura. Vsi ponavljajoči se motivi spletejo mrežo, ki povezuje Mrs. Dalloway in Ure, osebe v obeh knjigah, dogodke in nenazadnje avtorja z bralci. Menim, da se knjiga ni končala takrat, ko se je Cunningham odločil, da je končana. Ure so nenehno sodelovanje med pisateljem in bralci, ki sledijo mreži, opazijo ponavljajoče se motive, razmišljajo o njih in jim dajo mesto v mozaiku, ki so ga sami ustvarili.

Zanimivo je kako se mi dogaja, da v vsaki drugi knjigi, ki jo preberem, najdem svoj ponavljajoči se motiv: plasti časa, ki se prekrivajo. Tokrat v pogovoru med Clarisso in Richardom o poljubu ob ribniku. Richard ugotovi, da se tisti trenutek še vedno dogaja, tisto se dogaja v tisti resničnosti, ta pogovor pa v tej.

Skratka, Ure so mi bile všeč, ravno tako Cunninghamov slog pisanja. Zna biti, da bom tudi sama prebrala Mrs Dalloway, da vidim kakšne move možnosti so odprle Ure.



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