Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Hours opens with the suicide of Virginia Woolf, who was one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. She becomes a character in his book, as he weaves his depiction of her creation of her celebrated novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925) into the stories of two other women who are profoundly affected by her work. Cunningham traces a day in the three women's lives in which each becomes moved by an urge to create something of lasting significance to themselves and to others. Woolf composes her novel and prepares for a visit by her sister; Clarissa Vaughan and Laura Brown plan parties for friends and/or family.
During this process, the women experience moments of perfect harmony, which help them endure the losses that they inevitably must face. In this poignant exploration of the ironic tension between life and death, creativity and stagnation, Cunningham ultimately presents a life-affirming vision in his novel's celebration of hope and the endurance of the human spirit.
(The entire section is 168 words.)
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