Pilgrimage Year-long read

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Pilgrimage Year-long read

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Editado: Dez 27, 2018, 10:03am

Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson, year long read.

We will be reading this in 2019 for our annual read. I think if you google each book separately "pointed roofs" you will find pdf files on all the books without any cost. Dorothy Richardson is a Virago author. Something I am just starting to learn about. She is credited with the first stream of consciousness book. Here’s a link to a bit more about our author. https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/may/15/dorothy-m-richardson-des...
I have added all the pages (1920) of the 13 sections and divided them out. I did not include introductions. If you read those, it will be a bit more pages but if you read 37 pages a week, you will finish on time.

Pilgrimage, Volume 1 : Pointed Roofs, Backwater, Honeycomb by Dorothy M. Richardson published in 1906 is the first volume in a series of 13.

1. Pointed Roofs
2. Backwater
3. Honeycomb
4. The Tunnel
5. Pilgrimage: Interim
6. Deadlock
7. Revolving Lights
8. The Trap
9. Oberland
10. Dawn's Left Hand
11. Clear Horizon
12. Dimple Hill
13. March Moonlight

Dez 27, 2018, 8:38am

Thank you for organizing this! There was a group read in the Virago group here on LT a while back that got me interested and I also read from the 1001 books to read before you die list, which Pilgrimage is on.

I will definitely read the first volume and then I will see afterwards if I'd like to continue on.

It's interesting to me that this was published in 1906, predating Proust and Woolf. I've read In Search of Lost Time and all of Woolf's novels. I'll be interested to see how this stream of consciousness novel compares.

Editado: Dez 27, 2018, 9:39am

>2 japaul22: Ms Richardson led the way for those more known for their SOC. I am looking forward to starting this journey. Glad to have you join me.

Dez 27, 2018, 9:41am

>3 Kristelh: do you know if Woolf and Proust were influenced by Richardson? I wonder if they knew her work.

Dez 27, 2018, 10:06am

>4 japaul22:, I am not sure if they were actually influenced but this is from the Guardian. "Other modernist writers found their work lumped in with Richardson’s. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, for example, was reviewed as extending “the method of Miss Dorothy Richardson”; and by the late 1920s four names were invariably linked: James Joyce, Woolf, Marcel Proust and Richardson. All, readers were told (again in the Guardian, in 1930), were “explorers of a province of consciousness”. DH Lawrence, among others, found this self-absorption easy to mock: “‘Did I feel a twinge in my little toe, or didn’t I?’ asks every character in Mr Joyce or Miss Richardson or Monsieur Proust.”"

Jan 3, 2019, 4:47pm

This is great - thanks for setting this up. I'm planning on joining and will read one book a month, with a bonus month in there somewhere!

Jan 7, 2019, 7:47pm

I've read my 5 pages every day. I still have today to do; I started trying to compare Miriam and Dorothy, specifically trying to find ways they differ. I haven’t really found any differences. Miriam has 3 sisters; Harriet, Eve and Sarah. I think Harriet might be the youngest, Sarah the oldest and Eve followed. Miriam born 5 years later and Harriet a year later. It does mention that she is leaving because of financial difficulties. It mentions that Miriam was used to a life of music and tennis club. Miriam was happy to go because it was good to know. Miriam realizes she hasn’t thought of how others feel about her going. Miriam “loathes women” always smiling. I think she disliked women “living according the role of being a woman”. The pretenses.

Dorothy was the third of four girls. Father was a son of a business man (grocer) and her mother was gentry. Her father wanted to be a gentleman, so sold the business with the plan to live off his wealth. That didn’t go well and Dorothy had to leave. Why Dorothy. Dorothy was familiar with life of tennis and music. She also had an education in German, French, literature, logic, and psychology.

Editado: Jan 17, 2019, 11:56am

Oh yes. I found volume 1 at a local university library towards the end of last year, and finished volume 1 sometime last week. It took over my reading for a while. I found it hard to start any other fiction between the individual books, its voice took over, so I ploughed straight through.

One of the things that seized me about it was a kind of "contemporaneousness". Not just that its experimental approach, made it approachable as a modern reader, avoiding an alienation the formalism and archaisms of older work can make me feel, but that its very much situated in its time. The impressionistic, stream-of-conscious approach served well to give me a feel for texture of every day life as it might be lived.

It brought some things closer — it was easy to experience a carriage ride to a country inn as if were a ride to a pub in a car, avoiding a distancing that would have made it feel unnecessarily distant — while throwing others into a starker relief. In honeycomb one of the older characters starts buying the Victorian equivalent of the tabloids, and starts making allusions to it as a 'strange secret'. Miriam, who is much concerned about her path to adulthood, and feels excluded by this, becomes determined to find out what this is. When she, clumsily, tries to find out, she is refused an answer, told only that it is 'the most awful thing', something that is referred to in the Bible. When you know the year this is set, it become clear that this can only be the trial of Oscar Wild. It wasn't so much the obvious difference in social mores that made reading feel quite a shock, but doing so while experiencing it as if it were a contemporaneous new event.

What I most enjoyed was a sense of being able to easily inhabit a character separated from me not just by time, but also by age and gender, and the sensation of closeness and distance while reading, was central to this.

Here are some links that might be of interest.


includes the Dorothy Richardson Society: http://dorothyrichardson.org/society.htm and Journal http://dorothyrichardson.org/journal.htm (Acacdemic/Peer-reviewed. Free to download).

http://dorothyrichardsonexhibition.org/ - an online exhibition by the Dorothy Richardson Society.

Jan 21, 2019, 11:52am

Pg 16. Get rid of men and muddles and have things just ordinary and be happy." Make up your mind to be happy.
It was a relief to be going away.
You have no religion.
Pg 21, she lathed women
Pg25. Had never one thought of their "feeling" her going away.
Pg 28. He was playing his role of the English gentleman. Person of leisure and cultivation.
32. If pater had kept to grandpa's business they would be trade, too--well-off, now--all married.
68. Nothing to remind her of her summer days. They were all past and she had nothing.
74. She must pretend. Living with exasperating women who did not understand.
Pg 77, German men dispised women.
92 Miriam was beginning to know that she did not want to talk to her girls.

Miriam left home for the firs time in her life, she was at first taken in by her German setting but now is starting to feel like a fraud and failure at her job of being English and talking to the German girls in English. She is not enjoying her job and she is homesick for England.

A bit of of my own thoughts; "pointed roofs". A home is a symbol of family, the roof contains the family. Pointed roofs would be steep, dangerous and hiding what it inside. Miriam must pretend. She cannot let others know her.

Jan 23, 2019, 8:14am

Starting Pointed Roofs today. And enjoying all the comments here.

Jan 28, 2019, 11:44am

I started it on Saturday, am about a third of the way through. So far I like it; I'm also enjoying getting a little refresher in German.

Jan 30, 2019, 2:29pm

I've finished Pointed Roofs and I enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

In the forward to my edition, one of the reasons put forth for the book not really catching on may have been that publishing a pro-German book in England 1915 just wasn't going to go over well. I did find it interesting that so near to the war, Germany was where Miriam chose to teach.

I like Miriam. She seems to be the sort of person that is hard to get along with. She's sort of stand-offish and opinionated and not one to open up. But her voice and observations strike me as honest and authentic and I'm enjoying getting to know her.

Having read a lot of stream of consciousness novels (Woolf, Proust, Faulkner), I'm not quite seeing this as the same style yet. Certainly it's all from Miriam's point of view, but it still has a bit of a traditional novel feel to me. I'll be curious to see if the style gets more experimental as the book progresses.

I'll wait a couple weeks before starting Backwater.

Editado: Jan 30, 2019, 3:36pm

>12 japaul22:, I finished too and I ended up wondering if I liked Miriam. She really seems quite judgmental. Possibly socially awkward person. She was certainly progressive in education compared to other women. She didn't really fit in.

I am looking forward to Backwater but also will be on vacation during February so hoping I can keep up with reading.

Fev 3, 2019, 5:05pm

I finished today; I like Miriam also. I think she's quite introverted and also by turns unsure of herself and confident. I thought it was interesting how worried she was in the beginning about how she was going to fail as an English teacher.

>12 japaul22: I agree with you that it's a novel in the sense that some things happen...I was thinking that everything moves so slowly because we feel and see and are affected by everything that Miriam feels, sees and is affected by - and in that way it's a good example of stream of consciousness; it took me longer than a 'normal' novel of this length because of that.

I was intrigued by her thoughts about church, how she thought it was wrong to listen to sermons and that you could easily pick out the logical fallacies, but that she also felt safe and derived solace from church. The trip that the girls took to a Catholic church was interesting also - the French teacher saying that it wasn't suitable, that she knows these people and that she's afraid.

Interesting that she thought German men despised women, but at some point she mused about marrying a German boy.

And finally, why was the French teacher so upset about sharing a room with a married woman?

I'm looking forward to continuing also.

Fev 24, 2019, 7:25am

I have yet to read this in February. Vacation in Disney got in the way but I am hoping to get back to it soon.

Fev 24, 2019, 7:54am

Disney! Sounds fun!

Backwater is next up on my reading list. I'll likely go ahead and read that and the 3rd volume together.

Fev 24, 2019, 8:38am

>16 japaul22:, was there with granddaughters. it really was a "walking" vacation. Felt my age. But good memories with my girls.

Fev 25, 2019, 10:20am

I haven't got started yet either, and maybe I'll try to finish the first volume at one go also.

Fev 28, 2019, 7:58am

I started and finished Backwater pretty quickly. I really enjoyed it and am glad I started this book.

In this volume, I thought Miriam really exhibited a lot of the typical thoughts of a teenage girl - thinking about men, feeling attracted and attractive for the first time, trying to verbalize her thoughts about religion, and becoming obsessed with novels. These are all things I remember from that time of life as well.

I'm finding it interesting to see the women she works for and how they interact and influence her. I'm wondering if in all of these early parts there will be an older female figure for Miriam to observe.

Liz (Eliz_M if you know her from around LT) observed on my Club Read thread that she felt Backwater was more expected/conventional than Pointed Roofs and liked it a little less. I commented that I had (possibly arrogantly!!!) thought that I was just getting used to the writing and that was why it felt easier to read. Curious to hear what you all think!

Fev 28, 2019, 11:00pm

I got a few pages in before the end of the month. I will need to double up efforts in March. At this point, after reading two chapters of Miriam. Following her from Germany back to England. Do you like Miriam. Do you get a feel for London life? Do you find it easier to read straight through or do you need to take breaks in reading this many paged work.

Editado: Mar 3, 2019, 1:40pm

>19 japaul22: I had to think about this a little more, and I do believe Backwater is written in a more straight-forward manner. The stream-of-conscious technique seems to be represented by short, half-thoughts connected by ellipses (Pointed Roofs on the left, Honeycomb on the right):

. . .

Flipping through, I couldn't find many of these passages in Backwater -- only a page or so as Miriam drifts off to sleep.

Mind you, the narrative is still not linear, and still all takes place in Miriam's head, but for me it was easier to follow and there were more long passages that flowed continuously in the same time frame than in Pointed Roofs, where I was continually lost as to when a particular episode was set relative to the others. I maintain that this period of Miriam's life is less interesting to her (and the author), as witnessed by the title, so perhaps it was also written with fewer experimental techniques.

Mar 3, 2019, 2:13pm

I finally got a way into Backwater. This is a different Miriam than she was in Germany. More familiar in ways. We see her attitude toward Banbury and her disposition toward the party. She even separates herself from that person taking the job at Banbury.

I thought the scene where she rolls the cigarette, decides to smoke it as funny but not much different than any young person deciding to smoke. To make that decision as if that makes you grown up but yet she is busy trying to hide the evidence.

Mar 3, 2019, 3:10pm

>21 ELiz_M: Ahh that's interesting. Though I'd noticed the ellipses, I hadn't made the connection that it was her "stream of consciousness" moments, which now seems very clear. THanks for that!

Maybe I connected more to Backwater because I found more to relate to in my own teenage experience. Not that I was off teaching or anything, but some of the emotions seemed more relatable to me personally. I do agree that Pointed Roofs was edgier, though.

I'm probably going to finish Honeycomb today and I'll say that I'm losing Miriam in it a bit, even though it's still her point of view. Mrs. Corrie and her friends seem to be dominating the story and I like that less. Curious to hear what others think. I like hearing everyone's impressions as we all seem to be honing in on different aspects of the work. I always think that's one sign of a good book.

Mar 3, 2019, 5:29pm

And I finished Honeycomb and need to add that though I lost Miriam a bit in the middle, the last sections of this novel revolve around her own family life again - sisters getting married and caring for her ill mother and those were really wonderfully written. I loved it.

Editado: Mar 9, 2019, 5:50pm

> 21 Eliz M. I think you are pretty on the nose here, the title seems quite literal . The impression I took from it was one of a life lived trapped somewhere stagnant, by obligation and economic circumstance, while life goes on elsewhere. Between the promise of what life might be that she glimpses in Germany and what will be the life defining moment of her mothers death at the end of Honeycomb.

The latter is quite something. Even though I was on the look out for it, I had to double back when I reached the end of the book to find it. There is a curious movement where she both describes the exact moment and elides it, hidden by indirection, as something that cannot be spoken of.

Abr 7, 2019, 4:04pm

I'm starting "volume 2" of my virago edition. It includes "The Tunnel" and "Interim". Anyone else reading?

Abr 7, 2019, 6:16pm

i finished Backwater and trying to get into Honeycomb, I am a bit behind my schedule. Backwater was interesting to me though bleak, dismal atmosphere with North London picture. Miriam debating with herself what she should do, go for teacher certificate which she felt would limit her life or take a chance and venture out and away from North London which she did not like from the first.

Abr 8, 2019, 7:26am

>26 japaul22: I finished Honeycomb last month and did not have anything to say. I am enjoying The Tunnel much more .... it seems coincidental with life right now.

Abr 10, 2019, 12:42pm

I'm interested that in The Tunnel there is such a big shift in Miriam's surroundings. Moving to an office/secretarial setting instead of teaching, and also seeing that her family is much less prevalent. Do you think the family shift is because of her mother's death?

I'm only about 100 pages in, so maybe that changes later.

Abr 11, 2019, 5:26am

I'm a bit behind - have about 100 pages left of Backwater; not sure why it is going so slowly. Certainly is a bit drearier than Pointed Roofs.

Abr 12, 2019, 3:03pm

I’m almost done with The Tunnel and feeling like I need a character chart to keep everyone straight. I find myself getting sucked into Miriam’s thoughts but then missing plot points and forgetting characters.

Abr 13, 2019, 7:45am

>30 LisaMorr:, I'm behind too. I am finishing up Honeycomb

Editado: Maio 14, 2019, 5:45pm

Here are my impressions after finishing The Tunnel.

Spoilers for The Tunnel below!

I feel like Richardson has really hit her stride in this 4th installment of Pilgrimage. Miriam's mother has died and she has struck out on her own, away from the traditional governess scene. Instead, Miriam gets a "room of her own" (yes she uses this term a decade before Woolf) in London and works as a secretary for a dental office. The descriptions of her office work are amusing as she tries to keep on top of everything. But, the real interest here is Miriam discovering London, going to concerts, and reading avidly. She wanders and bikes!! around London, meeting new people and observing the city. In her musings a streak of feminism is becoming more and more prevalent. She notices the limiting expectations on women and the differences between the sexes.

I was so struck in this novel that Virginia Woolf must have been influenced by this work. Miriam being out in London reminded me of Clarissa Dalloway and the importance of Miriam's own space both within her flat and in claiming London is also a prevalent them in Woolf's later work.

Richardson has come up with a unique style. It is all Miriam's point of view and to keep that narrow focus characters flit in and out, sometimes without much explanation of who they are. I think this was Richardson's way of keeping Miriam the focus, but it does make for challenging reading.

Maio 12, 2019, 5:53pm

I finished Backwater today; this one took a while - I guess for me it was so bleak that I wasn't as interested in going through Miriam's day-to-day trials; in that sense the stream-of-consciousness style is a bit off-putting. I'm hoping Honeycomb will go faster with a change for Miriam.

One thing that is disturbing to me is the racism and anti-Semitism; I hope it doesn't continue throughout.

I'm wondering if we could use 'spoiler' when we're sharing important plot points?

Maio 13, 2019, 9:50pm

I finished Backwater and Honeycomb last month. I agree that there is definitely racism and anti semitism in the book but it does fit the time. My impression of Miriam is that she is quite "judging" of others. I will be interested to see what you think of Honeycomb >34 LisaMorr:. I felt that Honeycomb made Miriam seem very superficial.

Maio 14, 2019, 8:05am

>34 LisaMorr: I’m personally not concerned about spoilers - it’s not a plot driven novel so it won’t bother me.

Maio 14, 2019, 8:53am

>35 Kristelh: I'll be starting Honeycomb shortly and I'll share my thoughts.

>36 japaul22: I didn't know about Miriam's mom dying and that's seems to be an important event in the book; I would've liked not knowing.

Maio 14, 2019, 5:43pm

>37 LisaMorr: ok, I’m happy to use the spoiler tag from here on out!

Maio 14, 2019, 6:54pm

>38 japaul22: Thanks, not trying to be too much of a pain, but I guess for what we might consider significant life events for Miriam, that would be helpful. I do also agree that the plot is not the most important part of this work, so I'll live either way!

Maio 15, 2019, 10:37pm

I knew that somewhere the mother was going to be ill and die as it had talked about that in comparing the author Dorothy to the protagonist Miriam.

Maio 26, 2019, 4:56pm

Just finished Honeycomb. And read the introduction and foreword (which I usually read last in case it tells me something about the plot I don't want to know). So, now I do know about how much these novels parallel Richardson's life.

So, I get it now that although she characterizes it as a novel, it's very autobiographical and I certainly won't worry about any detailed posting about events in the books.

>35 Kristelh: I do agree with you that Miriam is very judgmental - I noticed it in Pointed Roofs and in Backwater also; and now that I understand that this book is so autobiographical, it's interesting that Richardson would portray herself (essentially) in this way.

Some episodes I totally identified with - I would absolutely be going crazy if I was with someone like Mrs Corrie in the hat shop, ugh!

The double wedding was very interesting and her reactions to the two men she encounters there; and it's very sad about not having enough money for proper healthcare for her mom, problems that still exist today for so many.

Jun 18, 2019, 4:25pm

So, upon finishing The Tunnel, which went a lot faster than I had planned for, I have some questions.

And actually the first question goes back to the previous novel - I've read the ending over again, in conjunction with the introduction and info on Richardson in Wikipedia, and how exactly do we know that her mom died?

And then in The Tunnel, what exactly happened with Dr. Hancock?

I also found it quite interesting that in Backwater, she talked about her teeth: (about eating bread) 'When she began at the hard thick edge there always seemed to be tender places on her gums, her three hollow teeth were uneasy and she had to get through worrying thoughts about them - they would get worse as the years went by, and the little places in front would grow big and painful and disfiguring.' And here she is in The Tunnel working in a dental office!

Jun 18, 2019, 5:15pm

>42 LisaMorr: The mother's death isn't explicitly stated. Basically, in the final pages, Miriam is walking with her mother who is saying something about how she can't go on, nothing to live for, etc. Then there is a new scene and Miriam is being told by a woman at the hotel that she shouldn't blame herself and we get a description of Miriam's grief. From that the reader deduces (supposedly) that the mother has committed suicide.

This is one of the reasons I think it's helpful to know the autobiographical elements as I read the book. Otherwise it seems almost impossible to get the plot points.

Here's a good description of it.


Jun 18, 2019, 5:17pm

>42 LisaMorr: With Dr. Hancock, I thought they had a flirtatious relationship and he maybe made a pass at her that she refused. What did everyone else think?

Jun 18, 2019, 7:13pm

>42 LisaMorr:, >44 japaul22: I think they had a friendly, flirtatious relationship and then when his family was visiting (his aunts?), he was made aware that his behavior was improper towards a woman of a different class and/or a woman one is not intending to court.

Editado: Jun 18, 2019, 9:31pm

>44 japaul22:, >45 ELiz_M: Thanks for your thoughts on it. I kind of thought the same thing at first, but when she read part of a letter he gave her, I was confused - the two parts were: 'Dear Miss Henderson - you are very persistent.' And then she glanced through to the end of the letter: 'foolish gossip which might end by making your position untenable.'

Miriam being persistent? And then the end of the letter sounded like she might lose her job, but carrying on through the end of The Tunnel, it looks like she is still there.

>43 japaul22: Thanks and also for the website info. I read through a couple of the summaries at that website, and the explanations are helpful. I guess I hadn't thought I would need that sort of guidance to work my way through Pilgrimage, but good to know it's there.

Jun 18, 2019, 11:13pm

Another question - where do the titles of the novels come from? I haven't really picked up on anything in the novels so far. Is that covered in any of the critical works written about Pilgrimage?

Jun 21, 2019, 11:07am

I just started Tunnel and my first impressions are of lots of "light" and "dark" and dust and other descriptions in the opening section.

Jun 28, 2019, 10:14pm

I am enjoying The Tunnel; This book is about Miriam's life in London. She is living in an unseated attic room of a boarding house. The time period is the 1890s and she is young, single, working as a secretary and dental assistant. The sense I get, she is so happy to be "free". The strong sense of independence is what Miriam is enjoying. Compare this to the role she played as a teacher who "lived-in" and was under the authority of others and treated like a servant. This Miriam is happy.

This book is described as long, modernistic, innovative and staccato prose. What we don't know in the Tunnel is what has happened to Mrs Henderson, What about the disgraced father, what has become of him. How about the sisters and the brother in laws? This is an example of how interiority works in the modernist/ novel.

The book is published in 1919 about a woman in 1896 written by a woman. Compare to other books with female characters such as Arnold Bennett, George Gissing or H G Wells’ novels (all were contemporaries of Richardson and Miriam). Miriam is not much different than any young woman working today as a secretary or dental assistant.

Jul 29, 2019, 7:47pm

Finished Interim today. The main difference between the two novels are that the lodging house has turned into a boarding house - now the inhabitants take their meals together. A lot more of the action takes place in the lodging house. The stream of consciousness style continues with lots and lots of detail of everything that Miriam sees and feels. Miriam is enjoying her independence and solitude. It's interesting that she would really rather be alone and doesn't necessarily enjoy the change to a boarding house. The last few pages were really interesting with Miss Dear coming to stay for a short while and a gossipy bit.

I also thought it was interesting that she was regularly misunderstood by the men around her. And, although this is a stream of consciousness book, I'm little bit suspicious of Miriam as a narrator. I'm interested to see what happens next.

Jul 29, 2019, 8:53pm

>50 LisaMorr:, I am a bit suspicious about Miriam as narrator too.

Editado: Ago 13, 2019, 6:13pm

I'm starting Deadlock, the 6th novel which is volume 3 of the Virago printing. Does anyone else have trouble relating the titles to what you're reading? When I read everyone's posts I have to go back and read my notes to remember which part it was because the titles don't connect to the text well for me.

I wish there was more scholarship written around this book. It has been really helpful for me with other experimental authors to have a literary analysis around for reference.

Editado: Ago 13, 2019, 6:13pm

I've finished Deadlock. I found Miriam quite changed in this one. I did, again, have several plot points that I was confused about. Richardson seems unable to actually write plot details about the biggest, most painful events that happen to Miriam. She writes a cryptic sentence and moves on, sort of filling in the blanks later but still making the reader jump to some conclusions. I think this is both maddening and brilliant. It's true to life for a person to not be able to talk about a traumatic event, but to talk around it and the repercussions of it later, but it makes it really hard as a reader to feel confident about basic plot points!

This is part of my review without plot spoilers.

What stuck out to me in this book is that Miriam has become more vocal. In previous novels she is opinionated but the "discussions" mainly occur through her interior monologue. In this book she states her opinion, often to Mr. Shatov, but also at work, which gets her in trouble, and to her family. I liked seeing this change in Miriam. She's growing up, exploring how to vocalize her opinions, and using others reactions to frame her own beliefs and grow. Her opinions on feminism, particularly, are maturing and she's able to voice some of her feelings about life as an English woman.

Ago 13, 2019, 5:55pm

>52 japaul22: I agree with you about the titles - I have no idea what they mean.

Thanks for mentioning the VMC threads on the Pilgrimage group read of a few years back - I've just finished going through the ones for Volumes 1 and 2, and it was great to have some external links with more info and analysis. Also, I was happy to see some of the readers there were confused by some of the same stuff I was. So, I shall persevere!

>53 japaul22: and great job getting through Deadlock already. I've got the book out, but haven't cracked the cover yet.

Ago 22, 2019, 1:02pm

Finished The Tunnel, started Interim.
The beginning of the narrator's years in London. She starts out in The Tunnel describing living in an attic room that may have been like a tunnel. Miriam is living in London, young and single. This is the late 1800s so that is quite the accomplishment. She is earning her own living as a dentist assistant. Miriam seems to be at a happy point in her life.

These questions are not fully answered in the narration: What happened to Miriam's mother, what happened to her disgraced father. How are the sister's doing. How about the brothers in law (Bennett and Gerald).

New characters; Mag and Jan. Riding bicycles in the night in their knickers. I enjoyed the part about the two day solo bike trip that Miriam takes to Wilshire/Savernake Forest. Independence of movement, freedom to travel, and speed to get away from threats.

There is a lot of info in this book about women's life.

Miss Eleanor Dear: interesting character, not sure I liked. She is sick with tuberculosis and in poverty. Miss Dear may have a tragic life but I did not like how she used others. It seemed dishonest. I wasn't quite sure how they met each other.

Out 5, 2019, 5:23pm

I'm starting the 4th Virago volume which begins with Oberland. I think I'm on track to finish this before the end of the year still.

Out 10, 2019, 8:43am

>55 Kristelh: I agree with you about Miss Dear; at first I was sympathetic, but then seeing what she did, I thought either she's a bit delusional or quite the user.

>56 japaul22: Good job! I have yet to crack open Pilgrimage 3, but I have it with me on this trip, and plan to start tomorrow and alternate it with something else that will no doubt be a bit more gripping...

Nov 11, 2019, 8:23am

I finished Deadlock the first novel in Pilgrimage 3 and the whole thing with Mr. Shatov was quite interesting. Of course there were parts I couldn't quite follow - what exactly was going on with Mr. Shatov and these other (previous?) women - girlfriends, lovers, wives? What were they? And then at the end she goes to see some woman to ask about how someone converts to Judaism. So, it was pretty interesting, and I'll be starting Revolving Lights soon to see how it continues.

>53 japaul22: Good comments about Miriam speaking her mind more, and that did mess her up a bit at work.

I have a lot of travel and long-haul flights along with Christmas vacation between now and the end of the year, so I think I still have a chance to finish all the Pilgrimage works by yearend.

Nov 11, 2019, 8:36am

>58 LisaMorr: There are parts I don't follow in every volume! I'm trying to just keep going. Sometimes things make sense later and sometimes they don't. This book is so "interior" that I really think there are many things that the reader isn't included in fully. I'm sure it's one reason the book is not widely read.

I've just finished Dawn's Left Hand, so I have 3 more to go. I had a tough time with the last few, but this one was a bit more interesting again. It sets up two opposing relationships - both with a strong physical attraction - between Miriam and Hypo and Miriam and Amabel (a beautiful young woman very attracted to Miriam).

I'm determined to push through the last 3, but at 400 slow pages, we'll see if I do it before the end of the year. There are still enough moments that I really enjoy and I feel so invested in Miriam that I want to see it through.

Nov 11, 2019, 10:48am

>59 japaul22: I hope I can get it done this year too! If I don't, I'm not sure how much energy I have for it next year... All this to check one 'work' off of the 1001 list!

Editado: Nov 11, 2019, 11:04am

I just started Oberland and love it so far. I think my enjoyment has to do with the more straight-forward story, less hidden interirority -- Miriam is focused on not interacting with people and instead is expressing delight (and exhaustion) in traveling and being somewhere new. The description of Switzerland is wonderful and now I really want to go tobogganing!

Nov 14, 2019, 4:14am

Stream of consciousness was introduced to me in the Quran. But unlike elsewhere, in the Quran, the narrative mode is readable; fluid; logical and intuitive, so much so that technique is almost invisible, the mark of masterful composition…how can some not see this?

This excerpt is from “The Stories” chapter:

Ta, Seen, Meem. letters, not words These are the verses of the *clear* Book. We recite to you from the news of Moses and Pharaoh in truth for a people who *believe*. Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their newborn sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters. *And* *We wanted* to confer favor upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors. *And* establish them in the land and show Pharaoh and his minister Haman and their soldiers through them that which they had feared. *And* We *inspired* to the mother of Moses, "Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him one of the messengers." *And* the family of Pharaoh picked him up out of the river *so that he would become to them an enemy and a cause of grief*. Indeed, Pharaoh and Haman and their soldiers were deliberate sinners. *And* the wife of Pharaoh said, "He will be a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son." *And* they *perceived not*.

Nov 21, 2019, 12:43pm

Well, I've finished. Parts were delightful, parts were confounding, parts were enlightening, and parts were boring. I'm very glad to have read it and to know it exists and I wish there was more scholarship around it. Thanks for setting up this group read - it gave me the impetus to start this and stick with it.

This was my summing up. There aren't any spoilers.

Pilgrimage is a 13 volume, 2110 page novel published between 1915 and 1967. From what I’ve found it is currently out of print, but fairly easy to access through used copies of Virago Modern Classics which published the work in 4 volumes. Originally, each volume was published individually until Dimple Hill, the 12th volume. It and the final installment, March Moonlight, were only published in full volume sets.

Pilgrimage is highly autobiographical. It follows the interior thoughts and experiences of Miriam Henderson, a young woman starting out in the world. I believe it covers her life from about age 17-30. Miriam leaves her home when her family falls on hard times financially to become a teacher in Germany. She teaches in different locations for the first few novels and then becomes a secretary at a dental office in London. While in London, she truly finds her confidence in being an independent and single woman. She explores the city and finds a deep connection to the city itself. As the book progresses, she develops her skill as a writer, begins and ends relationships with several men, and travels, gaining a wide array of experience.

The plot in the novel is buried deep within Miriam’s experience. Her reactions and thoughts are always primary, sometimes (often) to the point that the plot is undiscernible. This can be frustrating. Characters come and go sometimes without introduction and even large life events aren’t spelled out. Both her mother’s death and her first sexual experience I had to go back pages later and say, wait - what???

As such, this is not an easy reading experience. The book meanders and definitely loses its way, especially, I felt, later in the work. I think that by about half way through these novels, Richardson knew NO ONE was reading anymore and was truly writing for herself. I wonder if anyone was editing at all. Also, the book is unfinished which feels frustrating at the end of 2000 pages. I’m not sure Richardson ever intended to stop writing Miriam’s life experience.

All that said, I still highly recommend reading this. I thought a lot of the writing and ideas were truly groundbreaking. I’ve never read anything quite like this, and I’ve read Proust, Woolf, Faulkner, some of Joyce so I did have plenty to compare it to as far as interior, stream of consciousness writing. At her best, Richardson writes beautifully and intelligently, with great insight into the female experience. There is a definite feminist slant to her writing. There are certain scenes (Miriam exploring London on bicycle) that I will never forget.

If I were to be honest, I think you can get an excellent feel for Richardson’s talent and importance by reading the first 4 novels in this series of 13. I recommend those without reservation. And if you are a completist like I am, then by all means, read the whole thing. But I definitely recommend trying this neglected novel. I think it deserves to be read.

Nov 21, 2019, 9:21pm

>63 japaul22: nice review

Dez 9, 2019, 2:44am

>64 Kristelh: I agree with Kristel, nice review, and well done with completing it!

I'm about halfway through Revolving Lights, which is about halfway through Pilgrimage 3. A lot more about relationships in this one, and what women's roles are in relationships. I'm regularly amused by Miriam's meandering thoughts...

Jan 7, 2020, 3:58pm

I finished Pilgrimage 3 in December and just barely started on Pilgrimage 4; I knew I wouldn't finish it before the end of the month (all 658 pages), so I decided to cram a few more other books in - and managed to read four other books by year-end.

In Revolving Lights, I was surprised to actually find a reference to one of the titles in Pilgrimage:

Still it was strange, she reflected, with a consulting glance at the returning brilliance, that without any effort of her own, so very many different kinds of people and thoughts should have come, one after the other, as if in ordered sequence, into the little backwater of her life. What for?

Even coming across this, I still have no idea where the titles come from...

Relationships feature strongly in Revolving Lights, both with Michael and whatever starts happening with Hypo. From other sources, I understand about the affair with H.G. Wells. It seems that just like with what happened to her mother, some of these very important events in Dorothy's life are only skimmed over very briefly (although the vacation at Hypo and Alma's house was certainly described in detail). Looking forward to learning more in Pilgrimage 4.

The Trap seemed to be all about moving into a new place - sharing rooms with another woman, so as to both save money and have a bit bigger space. Miriam gets out and about a bit more, meets some neighbors and hosts a party.

In both of these novels, Miriam's love of London just shines through - London seems to be the great love of her life so far.

I liked this book the best of the three I've read so far.

Just 50 pages into Oberland and Pilgrimage 4. I'm not going to let this one linger too long - I'm afraid if I set it down it might stay down for quite a while! And being the longest of the four, that would not do.

Jan 7, 2020, 4:12pm

Nice work! I agree that Miriam's love of London is what I will remember most from this book. Especially in the earlier novels where she sets out on her own exploring the city and meeting people. I also loved the scenes in the dental office, surprisingly enough!

Good luck carrying on!

Editado: Mar 15, 2020, 4:51pm

Finished Pilgrimage 4 yesterday morning and thought I would come back here and share a few odd notes I took down as I was reading it.

There was a section in Oberland where Miriam goes on and on about soap, summing it up with this comment: To buy a new cake of soap is to buy a fresh stretch of days. Its little weight, treasure, minutely heavy in the hand, is life, past, present, and future, compactly welded.

I also loved how she expressed her joy of tobogganing!

I think we've all commented on not having a real clear understanding of the meanings of each novel's title; in >66 LisaMorr: I saw a reference to 'backwater' in Revolving Light, and then towards the end of Dawn's Left Hand, she talked about 'the horizon': All my life, since the beginning, I've left things standing on the horizon...I put things on the horizon and leave them there. Is that a reference to the next novel, Clear Horizon, that things get clearer for her? Hmmm

Dimple Hill was the only one that was 100% clear to me, but still it wasn't until the next to last page that it was mentioned!

This was a shocker in Dimple Hill: At last it was possible to think of the dead Eve. When did Eve die???

I was wondering how on earth she could afford to go away for six months; Hypo was always saying how she barely lived above the poverty line. And it wasn't until somewhere in March Moonlight that it was Dr. Hancock's wife who gave her the money and that there was an expectation she was going to train for some kind of office job? That was weird.

Her relationships were really something - men and women falling in love with her, asking her to marry them, she pretty much values her independence more than marriage, still interesting to see the evolution of her relationship with Michael, with Amabel, and then Amabel and Michael, with Hypo.

Then her time with the Quakers, visiting Michael and Amabel, and then back to the Quakers, and then in what I would equate to a YWCA boarding house, and then back to the Quakers, and her relationship with the French ex-priest, who it appears she fell in love with, and that she's heart-broken: To last, if they are right who declare that the state of being deeply in love endures for exactly five years, for exactly another three..

So, finally finished ! Looking back on my notes and timeline, I started Pilgrimage 1 in January 2020; it took me 14 months to get through, which is only a little longer than the original plan of 12.

And my overall thoughts:

Four books actually, and more than 2100 pages, of living inside Miriam Henderson's mind in this stream of consciousness work, encompassing 13 novels. I'm glad for the experience of reading this work, but it was not an easy or fast read. It was difficult to follow who was who and to actually understand at times what was happening. At the time of its publication (over several years), her critics didn't suspect it was based on the author's life. I had to read a lot of reference material to understand the actual events taking place - for example, Miriam's mother commits suicide at the end of the first book (as Dorothy Richardson's mother did), but it was not explicitly stated anywhere in the book. I do not know how you would infer this. Also, she has an affair with Hypo (actually H. G. Wells in real life) and supposedly gets pregnant and has a miscarriage (by reading the Wikipedia explanation) - I had no idea from the book that this had happened.

Full of excruciating detail of people, their clothes, houses, furniture, the London streets, and nature, it went very slowly, Still I was interested in what it was like for a single woman to live and work on her own in London in the early 1900s. To attend lectures, read, and learn and question others about philosophy, to travel to Switzerland, live with a Quaker family, fall in love and have men fall in love with her, and to always stay single and live as independently as possible.

Mar 15, 2020, 4:58pm

>68 LisaMorr:, you did so well. I still hope to get back to this. I think it is out there on my horizon. And not a clear one either.

Mar 22, 2020, 7:03pm

>69 Kristelh: Thanks so much! I really had to force myself, and in the end it was worthwhile. Good luck to you when you get back to it!