Mrs Dalloway and Perfumes of 1925

I’m a latecomer to Virginia Woolf’s writing. Mrs Dalloway was the first Woolf’s novel I read, and its prose, such as the excerpt below demonstrates, is so hypnotizing, I look forward to discovering more of her work.

“There were flowers: delphiniums, sweet peas, bunches of lilac; and carnations, masses of carnations. There were roses; there were irises. Ah yes–so she breathed in the earthy garden sweet smell as she stood talking to Miss Pym who owed her help, and thought her kind, for kind she had been years ago; very kind, but she looked older, this year, turning her head from side to side among the irises and roses and nodding tufts of lilac with her eyes half closed, snuffing in, after the street uproar, the delicious scent, the exquisite coolness.

mrsdalloway

 

And then, opening her eyes, how fresh like frilled linen clean from a laundry laid in wicker trays the roses looked; and dark and prim the red carnations, holding their heads up; and all the sweet peas spreading in their bowls, tinged violet, snow white, pale–as if it were the evening and girls in muslin frocks came out to pick sweet peas and roses after the superb summer’s day, with its almost blue-black sky, its delphiniums, its carnations, its arum lilies was over; and it was the moment between six and seven when every flower–roses, carnations, irises, lilac–glows; white, violet, red, deep orange; every flower seems to burn by itself, softly, purely in the misty beds; and how she loved the grey-white moths spinning in and out, over the cherry pie, over the evening primroses!

And as she began to go with Miss Pym from jar to jar, choosing, nonsense, nonsense, she said to herself, more and more gently, as if this beauty, this scent, this colour, and Miss Pym liking her, trusting her, were a wave which she let flow over her and surmount that hatred, that monster, surmount it all; and it lifted her up and up when–oh! a pistol shot in the street outside!” (p.10)

Mrs Dalloway was published in 1925, and its innovative structure–the events take place over the course of a single day, punctuated by the strikes of Big Ben–opened new avenues in modern literature.  The stream of consciousness narrative intertwining thoughts, fantasies and memories has a spellbinding quality, and while the themes of this post First World War masterpiece are at times dark, the novel never loses its hold on your imagination.

In 1925, the world was deeply scarred by the war, but the rumblings of World War II were yet to be heard. Alongside with the pain and devastation was the hunger for beauty and pleasure. It was the year that saw such opulent perfume classics as Guerlain Shalimar, Knize Ten, Chanel Gardénia, Jean Patou Adieu Sagesse, Amour Amour, Que Sais-Je?, and Millot Crêpe de Chine. Women cropped their hair, banished corsets and doused themselves in rich perfumes. It was the Roaring Twenties.

Image: Vanessa Redgrave as Clarissa Dalloway in Marleen Gorris’s cinematic adaptation of the novel.

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90 Comments

  • Austenfan: Woolf is an amazing writer. Even to me as a non-native speaker her language is sort of hypnotising. My favourite still is “To the Lighthouse”. November 10, 2014 at 7:38am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Your English is outstanding. November 10, 2014 at 8:51am Reply

    • limegreen: I agree — your English like a native speaker! November 10, 2014 at 10:31am Reply

      • limegreen: Your English IS like a native speaker. 🙂 (sticky small keyboards are annoying) November 10, 2014 at 10:33am Reply

        • Austenfan: Thank you, you are making me blush, in an Austen heroine sort of way! November 10, 2014 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t read “To The Lighthouse”, but it’s on my list. My to-read list is growing and growing! November 10, 2014 at 12:13pm Reply

  • lupo: Thanks for the very evocative extract, Victoria. The 20s/30s are coming back into fashion: movies like The Artist, The Great Gasby… And rightly so: it was a splendid time. I’m not a massive fan of Virginia Wolf: among the writers of that period Hemingway is probably my favourite.
    I wonder what fragrances men were wearing back then. Acqua di Parma wasn’t probably massively popular, although it dates back to 1916 apparently. I always picture heavy fougeres! November 10, 2014 at 7:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Knize Ten was an important perfume, and it was quite popular. Geo.F.Trumper was also quite a favorite. And the 20s saw the debut of Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat by Guerlain and Caron Royal Bain de Champagne. But if you look at the launches between 1920 and 1925, they’re clearly dominated by the fragrances marketed to women. You have No 5, No 22, Shalimar, Maja, Habanita, Nuit de Noel. November 10, 2014 at 12:18pm Reply

    • Mel: Not a massive fan of Hemingway’s either. I prefer Faulkner of that generation. He didn’t run off to another continent to discover himself. He stayed right here and chewed his own native meat. I did love Nicole Kidman as Woolf in the Hours. November 10, 2014 at 11:29pm Reply

      • Nikki: I used to give tours of Hemingway’s birth house close to Chicago. I also used to like him before I knew him well. His childhood was terrible, especially for a sensitive man born under the sign of cancer like Hemingway.

        I always felt his big game hunts, killing all these animals, and conquering all these women he left, was a façade, ending in his suicide later on. That shows what a bad father who beats his children can do…as Ernest was a sweetheart when growing up but terribly mistreated in Oak Park where he grew up.

        However, he did have a lifelong relationship with Marlene Dietrich which was very important to both of them and that redeems him a little in my eyes….

        Poor Virginia Woolf killed herself, too, and she had so much to give…but had suffered from depression all her life.

        Being sensitive is a gift and a curse. November 11, 2014 at 4:21pm Reply

  • spe: A couple of my favorite writers of the time are Somerset Maugham and Edna St Vincent Millay. At one point, while reading “To the Lighthouse”, I remember wondering if a couple of pages were missing….! November 10, 2014 at 8:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Somerset Maugham is on my list to read, inspired by the same friend who gave me a push to read Virginia Woolf. I don’t even feel disappointed that I’m discovering them only now. On the contrary, more pleasures to anticipate. 🙂 November 10, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

      • Nikki: Oh no, V, life is a journey and some destinations are meant to be reached later on… November 11, 2014 at 4:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s true. 🙂 November 12, 2014 at 10:48am Reply

  • George: I re-recommend Between the Acts ( I did so previously during the Atkinson’s thread).

    “Then suddenly the starlings attacked the tree behind which she had hidden. In one flock they pelted it like so many winged stones. The whole tree hummed with the whizz they made, as if each bird plucked a wire. A whizz, a buzz rose from the bird-buzzing, bird-vibrant tree. The tree became a rhapsody, a quivering cacophony, a whizz and vibrant rapture, branches, leaves, birds syllabling lie, life, life without measure, without stop devouring the tree. Then up! Then off!” November 10, 2014 at 8:44am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s been on my list, so I’m pushing it further up. This excerpt is beautiful. November 10, 2014 at 12:20pm Reply

  • rosarita: It’s many years since I’ve read Virginia Woolf and I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of Mrs Dallas. F Scott Fitzgerald is a favorite writer of that era. November 10, 2014 at 9:15am Reply

    • rosarita: Dalloway,I swear auto correct can be so irritating! November 10, 2014 at 9:15am Reply

      • Bela: I never use it: I like to be in complete control of what I write. LOL! November 10, 2014 at 10:21am Reply

      • Victoria: Mine keeps correcting Victoria to Cicero, which I find totally incomprehensible. It’s not like they are close or that I spend much time writing about Roman orators. November 10, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

        • Nikki: Love it, how funny! At least there would have been a female Cicero then! November 11, 2014 at 4:23pm Reply

          • Victoria: Especially funny, when you sign off as Cicero when corresponding with your client. November 12, 2014 at 10:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, he is mine too. F Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night” was the first novel I read, and I remember being mesmerized by his description of Nicole:

      “Nicole Diver, her brown back hanging from her pearls, was looking through a recipe book for chicken Maryland. She was about twenty- four, Rosemary guessed — her face could have been described in terms of conventional prettiness, but the effect was that it had been made first on the heroic scale with strong structure and marking, as if the features and vividness of brow and coloring, everything we associate with temperament and character had been molded with a Rodinesque intention, and then chiseled away in the direction of prettiness to a point where a single slip would have irreparably diminished its force and quality. With the mouth the sculptor had taken desperate chances — it was the cupid’s bow of a magazine cover, yet it shared the distinction of the rest.” November 10, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

  • Therése: To the Lighthouse is an absolute favourite of mine. I really should read Mrs Dalloway. November 10, 2014 at 9:54am Reply

    • Victoria: There are so many beautiful passages, but also many dark and sordid ones, since it deals a lot with the mental illness and the effects of the war. November 10, 2014 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Kat: I couldn’t really get into Mrs Dalloway. ‘A Room of one’s own’ however is a different story altogether. Groundbreakiong and still poignant and relevant. November 10, 2014 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I have it on my Kindle, but since I’ve discovered I can’t read books that way, I’m just planning to buy a copy. Thank you for a reminder. November 10, 2014 at 12:27pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Kat,

      You are so right; this book was indeed groundbreaking, and of course way overdue. It is now 85 years since it was first released, and we still have so very far to go… November 10, 2014 at 7:57pm Reply

  • Polly: I do so love Barbara Herman’s book “Scent and Subversion” for the chronological presentation of the perfumes and the background material. The only thing I don’t like about it is that I want more! To know what people (and particularly women) were thinking and doing, how women’s were conceptualized… and now you make me want to know how literature fits into that picture! November 10, 2014 at 10:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Like you, I love knowing the context, not just the perfume description. Because after all, perfumes reflect so much about their times, fashions, preferences. It’s not incidental that in our era of anxiety, the gourmand, comforting perfumes are such favorites. November 10, 2014 at 12:28pm Reply

  • limegreen: Thank you, Victoria, for such a stimulating post. It makes me rethink the context of some of those classic perfumes.
    Michael Cunningham’s The Hours helped me to rediscover Mrs. Dalloway (The Hours is what Woolf originally titled Mrs. D). My favorite Woolf work is not a novel, but one with great innovative thinking: A Room of One’s Own. Among other ideas, she introduces Judith Shakespeare, a fictional sister, who would have been as successful a writer if she had her own space.
    Patricia’s recent fun post on perfume organization has demonstrated that several people in this fragrance community have a beautiful and special perfume room of their own! November 10, 2014 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: It struck me as I was reading, because one day I had No 22 on, and it somehow was a perfect fit with the novel and the spirit of the time. And this passage also fit it well!

      Having one’s own space is essential to keep oneself in balance. And it doesn’t even have to be a physical area, but rather a way to escape, to find a respite for a moment elsewhere. Which is why reading and perfume, both offering an immersive experience, are so great for creating that space. November 10, 2014 at 12:32pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

        I so agree with Kat and Limegreen about “A Room of One’s Own”. It was both ahead of its time and way overdue. The notion of Judith Shakespeare, in particular, tickled me, because my first name is actually Judith. I second your comment on the essential nature of some physical or mental private space and time, Victoria. I have the luxury of a unit of my own, but within it, I think of my Violet Room as a form of perfume room, as it has a few of my perfume displays and all of my books on perfume – currently numbering over 60.

        I loved the movie of Mrs Dalloway, and this article has made me want to read the book and buy the DVD!

        Thank heavens for the spirit of freedom and decadence that produced such marvels as Shalimar. November 10, 2014 at 7:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: I immediately thought of your Violet room! How amazing it must be. 🙂 November 11, 2014 at 12:00pm Reply

          • Tourmaline: It’s pretty special. Along with the violet china and embroidery, perfumes, and books on perfume, it also has a bottle of Parfait Amour (the violet liqueur), a selection of empty Beech’s Violet Creams chocolate boxes, a large amethyst crystal, a black and violet butterfly in a glass case, violet-dyed ostrich feathers, a bunch of silk violet flowers, a foot-high aubergine lidded-jar, violet candles and a huge framed print of “Libra and her Sparrow” by Sir Edward John Poynter. My laptop is in here and it feels like the perfect location for working, writing, and especially reading Bois de Jasmin articles! November 12, 2014 at 5:23am Reply

            • Victoria: I love violet everything, from color to flavor to flowers, so your Violet Room really sounds like my idea of heaven. (And I happen to be a Libra!) November 12, 2014 at 11:03am Reply

              • Tourmaline: If you like all things violet, then I’m sure that you’d love it, Victoria. I’m a Libra too (although I only read my horoscope occasionally for entertainment)! If you’re not familiar with the painting, then you might enjoy googling it. Libra is sitting in aubergine robes, holding grapes, with a little sparrow perched on her hand. The flowers in the wreath around her head appear to me to be violets. November 12, 2014 at 9:05pm Reply

  • Bela: I studied To the Lighthouse at college – and loved it, as well as others of her works. But my favourite piece of writing by VW is a short story, which I read many years but never forgot. It’s entitled The Duchess and the Jeweller, and contains this wonderful sentence: ‘As a parasol with many flounces, as a peacock with many feathers, shuts its flounces, folds its feathers, so she subsided and shut herself as she sank down in the leather armchair.’ You can find the complete text here:
    http://nbu.bg/webs/amb/british/5/woolf/house08.htm November 10, 2014 at 10:30am Reply

    • Austenfan: Did you ever watch the Branagh adaptation of “To the Lighthouse”?
      Thank you for providing the link to that short story. November 10, 2014 at 11:26am Reply

      • Bela: Indeed I did, Austenfan. It was very well done. A friend of mine was in it – Lynsey Baxter, who played one of the young daughters. November 10, 2014 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for this passage and link, Bela! This image will stay with me for a while. November 10, 2014 at 12:33pm Reply

  • carole macleod: And the lines about women’s complexions-like roses under glass-lots of images imprinted in my mind. November 10, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: There is another passage I loved, the one describing Clarissa’s daughter:
      “As a child, she had had a perfect sense of humour; but now at seventeen, why, Clarissa could not in the least understand, she had become very serious; like a hyacinth, sheathed in glossy green, with buds just tinted, a hyacinth which has had no sun.” November 10, 2014 at 12:34pm Reply

  • Carla: I too am a latecomer to Woolf and I am reading her right now! What a coincidence. I am actually listening to Juliet Stevenson read To the Lighthouse. My absolute favorite audio book is Stevenson reading Middlemarch, so I thought I would try another read by her. Stevenson’s reading of Middlemarch is just incredible.
    Anyway, audio reading does not work as well with Woolf as it did with Eliot. Woolf’s prose is so plush and layered. I think I would enjoy it better reading rather than listening. However it is short and next I will read Mrs. Dalloway. (Although I believe Stevenson does an audio of that too, and her voice and interpretation are such a pleasure and so intelligent) November 10, 2014 at 12:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can see why it would be. When I read her, I find myself re-reading some passages again and again, or returning to some sentences, or skimming a passage in search of a phrase I loved. It’s a totally different experience, and I’d find it hard to replicate it just by listening to it. But I have taken up audiobooks much more lately, mostly the Ukrainian classics. I don’t have many people around me who speak Ukrainian these days, so it’s a pleasure just to hear the language (and to revisit some of my favorite novels or poetry). November 10, 2014 at 12:37pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I can imagine you miss your language. Sometimes I take the train to Maastricht just to speak and hear my dear Limburgian language ( I never speak of ”dialects”). November 10, 2014 at 4:59pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m now curious what Limburgian sounds like! November 10, 2014 at 5:17pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: A little bit like the German in Köln. November 11, 2014 at 5:53am Reply

            • Victoria: Hmmm, I never visited Köln, but I have a friend from there. I will have to ask her. November 11, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Maastricht is worth a visit! Plenty of Limburgian language there.
                Actually Dutch literature started there, with Henric van Veldeke. November 11, 2014 at 3:05pm Reply

              • Nikki: Yes, you need to visit Koeln! It is great. Such history and 4711, of course. November 11, 2014 at 4:26pm Reply

                • Victoria: Oh yes, and it’s easy enough to visit from here. I should go. November 12, 2014 at 10:50am Reply

      • Carla: Victoria, I finally got through the first half of To the Lighthouse after listening and re-listening to each track, like you are re-reading. I’m still not sure of every detail like I would be if I read it, but the prose is so beautiful. This happens sometimes with audio books, although every step of Middlemarch was crystal clear. I recently listened to The Luminaries and I was so lost in the first half, but as the novel picked up pace I figured things out. That is an amazing novel. I just may go through it again, reading instead of listening this time. November 10, 2014 at 5:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: I bought The Luminaries, but I haven’t started it yet. My husband also said that it started slowly, but it got really engaging further on. November 11, 2014 at 11:57am Reply

      • Carla: I listen to audio books on walks and while doing “stupid” work like washing pots or hanging laundry. Thank goodness for them. I don’t use e-readers so cannot “sync” and so always have an audio book and a book book going. I wonder if audible has books in French, though that would be less successful for me, I think. It is not my native language, and although I am fluent and read novels in French, I think I would tune a French audio book out. November 10, 2014 at 5:25pm Reply

        • Victoria: Same here. I also listen to them when I do photo-editing or my stretches. I discovered that unless the reader has the right kind of voice, I will tune them out within minutes. November 11, 2014 at 11:58am Reply

    • Bela: Juliet Stevenson has one of the most distinctive voices ever. She does the odd advert on the telly and it’s such fun recognising her. I’ve known her since 1978, when she joined the RSC. She was always an incredibly bold actress and her first big part was as a bare-chested and totally unsexy goddess Artemis in Hippolytus by David Rudkin. We used to be good friends (she stayed in my flat in Paris), but I haven’t seen her for a while now. We would argue about politics so maybe it’s just as well. LOL!

      I’m slightly embarrassed now for hijacking this thread to reminisce. November 10, 2014 at 1:18pm Reply

      • Victoria: Please don’t be! On the contrary, it is so interesting when the threads cover all sorts of different topics. And your recollections are fascinating. Still remember how much I loved your Penhaligons story. 🙂 November 10, 2014 at 2:17pm Reply

        • Bela: You’re too kind, V. 🙂 November 11, 2014 at 6:41pm Reply

      • Carla: Well count me as a Juliet Stevenson fan. How wonderful you know her so well. She has such a beautiful voice and a gift for bringing characters to life through their way of speaking. I don’t know how she does it. The way she reads, it seems she has thought through the meaning of every sentence. That is feasible with To the Lighthouse, but Austen novels and Middlemarch are so long…I am truly impressed. I think that her reading will work very well with Austen novels, better than with Woolf, which to me is best read and not listened to. November 10, 2014 at 5:20pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi Carla,

          I loved her in “Truly Madly Deeply” and “Bend It Like Beckham” – two polar opposites! I must explore her audio books sometime. November 10, 2014 at 8:15pm Reply

        • Bela: You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had indeed ‘thought through the meaning of every sentence’. She is *the* most disciplined, hard-working and dedicated actress I’ve ever met. I remember some evenings at Stratford, when she was with the RSC: we would be in the pub after a show, relaxing; she would turn up, have one small drink, stay about half an hour and then say, ‘Must be going. Rehearsal tomorrow at 10am. Bye!’ *Everyone* had a rehearsal at 10am the following morning, but the others would stay and stay and stay. She was something like 21 or 22 at the time, but everyone knew she would go places. November 11, 2014 at 7:16pm Reply

  • iodine: VW has been one of my masters, a writer that accompanied my growth, my difficult road towards independence. I owe her writing so much I find it hard to pinpoint some book I love more than others- I’ll just add a personal suggestion: the middle section of To The Lighthouse has always had a particular smell in my mind: slightly musty, woody but also salty, windswept and herbaceous. When I smelt Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli I thought: that’s it! 🙂 November 10, 2014 at 1:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: After we talk about books here, my bedside pile starts to tower. 🙂 But it’s great to have so much inspiration for reading.

      Can’t wait to read and “smell” ye novel! I have some Mistral Patchouli, too. November 10, 2014 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Aurora: Alas she evades me. I tried in my teens (To the Lighthouse) in vain.

    I might have tried again (as you rightly point out she is famous for her stream of consciousness style of writing and I didn’t want to miss out) but around the same time I discovered Katherine Mansfield and enjoyed her so much that I never looked back , relieved that I could after all enjoy impressionism in writing; the two of them were contemporaries – and rivals to a certain extent. Scott Fitzgerald mentioned and quoted above is also a favorite as is Hemingway.

    Those were good years for perfume; I am not familiar with Crepe de Chine thank you for listing it. We will soon be able to enjoy the Patou perfumes again (or maybe they are already out I don’t recall). In French the Roaring twenties are les annees ‘jungle’ I’m not sure why but love the expression anyway. November 10, 2014 at 1:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love that expression, and it really captures the era for me. Wonder how the phrase originated.

      Some writers need time to speak to you, just like some perfumes. For years I couldn’t stand Dostoyevsky until this year when I read Brothers Karamazov and the White Nights. His voice suddenly hooked me, and of course, many themes he raises in his works are so modern. November 10, 2014 at 2:26pm Reply

      • Aurora: Isn’t it. I don’t know the origin either.

        Of course you are right, I’m not ‘giving up’ Virginia Woolf. Reading the thread I saw she had so many fans.

        The White Nights are extraordinary, quite surrealist; in the edition I have of them there is also The House of the Dead and Notes from the Underground. Of course you read Dostoyevsky in Russian which must be incomparably better. Nabokov is so scathing about English translations that I tend to read the Russians in French (whole chunks of Tolstoy are in French but alas not the same for Dostoyevsky).

        Do you like Lermontov Victoria? I had been enchanted by him and want to read him again but no longer have the volume I had 15 years or so ago. Time to visit Tottenham Court Rd again for much needed reading material.

        Wearing Encens Flamboyant these past 2 days, I smell like a French Provencal church. My boyfriend does not approve. But I am under the spell. November 10, 2014 at 3:39pm Reply

        • Victoria: The French translate more Russian classics than anyone else, so there should be lots of choices. I read Anna Karenina in French, and I really thought that the translation captured Tolstoy’s prose and various nuances.

          I used to read lots of Lermontov in school, but I haven’t picked his work up since then. I have been meaning to.

          You smell great! 🙂 November 10, 2014 at 5:11pm Reply

  • Vanessa: Oh, Que Sais-Je – I had a sample of this somewhere and can’t recall how it smelt. Interesting to know that 1925 was the year Shalimar was launched. And the following year, our Queen! November 10, 2014 at 2:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t remember it that well either. My favorite from those early Patous is still Vacances. November 10, 2014 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Nati: Isnt that what we do everyday, we, the survivours; striving to find and retain pleasure and beauty in a world of pain? November 10, 2014 at 6:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I suppose! I never thought of it this way before. November 11, 2014 at 11:59am Reply

  • The Saw: Oh Victoria, how wonderful! I love “Mrs. Dalloway.” If you feel like leaping further still, give “The Waves” a go. It’s her most purely stream-of-conciousness novel and barely has a plot, but it has a hypnotic rhythm (meant to emulate waves ebbing and flowing) and is unbelievably beautiful. November 10, 2014 at 8:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for another great recommendation! I’m so glad that I posted this, because now I’ve been inspired to discover even more. November 11, 2014 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Courant: I love Vanessa Redgrave. Virginia Woolf took her own life; it seems that often genius and depression are akin. In New Zealand Katharine Mansfield was of similar talent and disposition. Have you read of the love affair between Virgina Woolf and Vita Sackville West, the writer of ‘The Edwardians’ and ‘Orlando’ November 10, 2014 at 9:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: I read excerpts from a book of their letters. “I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia…” November 11, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Never a fan of V. Woolfe; my favorite writers on flowers and fragrances are Colette and Proust, and nobody evoked the Twenties like F. Scott Fitzgerald. I think Zelda wore L’Heure Bleu, but I am not positive. The original Shalimar was very much a flapper’s scent: I could easily imagine Gloria Swanson and Clara Bow wearing it. Does anybody know what Josephine Baker and Theda Bara wore for scents? November 10, 2014 at 10:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Apparently, Josephine Baker loved Arpège by Lanvin, but I don’t know anything about Theda Bara’s fragrances. November 11, 2014 at 12:04pm Reply

  • nozknoz: I need to read more of her books! Of course, Orlando is one of my all-time favorites. To me, the film was disappointing, and Tilda Swinton very far from my image of Orlando. I picture someone who looks more like Edward Bess (the make-up artist who has his own brand of cosmetics). November 10, 2014 at 11:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Orlando is definitely on my list. I saw the film, but it was such a long time ago, and I don’t remember it making a huge impression on me. November 11, 2014 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Alicia: Returning from the subtropical jungle I find this very fine post.
    Love Virginia Wooif, and many writers of the twenties, but one year stands out for me. 1922:
    J. Joyce, Ulysses, and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Just naming them is enough. November 11, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: I realized not long ago that this era of literature is not something I covered well, so that novel is still to be read. Oh, so much new reading to anticipate! 🙂 November 11, 2014 at 12:10pm Reply

      • Alicia: Victoria, Joyce’s Ulysses is a towering work in the universe of the Western novel. Not an easy read, but at least not a nearly impossible one like his Finnegans Wake, which defeated me. Eliot’s Waste Land is not a novel, but an extraordinary poem. They stand in literature as Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring does in music and Picassos’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in painting. All of them changed the artistic paradigm of its time. November 11, 2014 at 8:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Sorry, my comment was muddled, I meant Joyce. I read The Waste Land in college, but nothing by Joyce. I read a wonderful essay about Ulysses in Nabokov’s Notes on English Literature, and I got the novel shortly thereafter. I will read it eventually. November 12, 2014 at 11:01am Reply

  • Brooke: Are you familiar with Persephone Books (http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/)?? They are an independent UK publisher of “forgotten classics”. I have read many of the books they have published and found them all extremely enjoyable. November 13, 2014 at 7:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for this mention! I just browsed their page, and they do have so many interesting publications. November 13, 2014 at 9:47am Reply

      • Brooke: They certainly do! I think The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett may be my favorite of their publications. I can also recommend most of the Dorothy Whipple books. They are really fantastic character driven stories. November 13, 2014 at 9:56am Reply

        • Victoria: More to add to my list! Thank you, Brooke. November 13, 2014 at 11:51am Reply

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