Miriam Henderson, an Englishwoman of middle-class background whose story from youth to maturity is screened through her mind in a series of discontinuous episodes, impressions, and suggestions. Forced to earn her own living after her father loses his money, she teaches in Germany and in London. She becomes a governess in a wealthy household. She nurses her dying mother. She works in a dental clinic. She interests herself in the activities of a Socialist group, the Lycurgans. She is engaged to marry Shatov, a Russian Jew, but changes her mind. She begins to write literary reviews. She rejects Dr. Densley’s proposal and has an affair with a writer named “Hypo” Wilson. She goes on a vacation in Switzerland. She spends some time with a Quaker family in the country. The twelve volumes of Miriam Henderson’s story represent the most extended exercise of pure stream-of-consciousness in all literature, and Miriam herself is the most completely realized character from the interior point of view. The flaw in Richardson’s novel is that it offers little selectivity. The events of one woman’s life, the important and the trivial, are presented on the same plane of immediate sensation, and the result is boredom as well as revelation. Reviewing Richardson’s work, May Sinclair borrowed a phrase from William James and used the term “stream-of-consciousness” to describe the technique employed.
Mr. Henderson, a moderately prosperous man living on inherited income. The loss of his money throws his daughters on their own resources.
Mrs. Henderson, his wife, nursed by her daughter Miriam while she is dying of cancer.
(The entire section is 721 words.)