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Pilgrimage, Volume 2: The Tunnel and Interim
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Past annual reads > Pilgrimage - The Tunnel 2019

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message 1: by Kristel (last edited Jun 27, 2019 08:35AM) (new) - added it

Kristel (kristelh) | 3831 comments Mod
Pilgrimage, Volume 2: The Tunnel and Interim

The Tunnel

Describe the setting: what do we learn from the setting about Miriam. Where is she living, what work is she doing. What sense do we get about Miriam. Is she 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.


message 2: by Gail (last edited Apr 21, 2019 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gail (gailifer) | 1196 comments Well, back into it.
I have read about a third of Vol.2 - up to Chapter X in The Tunnel. Miriam is now about 21 or so. After her family's reversals she has found freedom and happiness being on her own in London, at a time when young women usually stayed at home until they married.
Although there is little plot or forward movement in this part, I did enjoy her description of the anxiety of never getting ahead at her work as an assistant in a dentist's office. She takes us through one day with quite a bit of detail. Also, when she is happily walking the streets of London at night (alone) I appreciate her reflections. However, when she is attempting to find her way in social situations, like with her "new women" friends or her old school chum Alma and Alma's husband, Miriam is still that highly judgmental, socially awkward, way to self-conscious young woman who has not yet found her true voice. I am enjoying her excitement about being with people who have ideas but I am not enjoying her whiny hatred of people because they are more self-assured or find it easier to amuse others.

On English people should never play music:
"They are not innocent enough to play. They cannot forget themselves."

On Women writing books:
" To write books, knowing all about style, would be to become like a man. Women who wrote books and learned these things would be absurd and would make men absurd. There was something wrong."

Also, I loved the mental image of the "new women" (Mag and Jan) riding their bicycles around at night in only their knickers....that does sound to me like freedom.


message 3: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Dawn | 905 comments Gail wrote: "Well, back into it.
I have read about a third of Vol.2 - up to Chapter X in The Tunnel. Miriam is now about 21 or so. After her family's reversals she has found freedom and happiness being on her ..."


Great review, Gail! These are pretty much my thoughts too, including about the knickers based bike riding ;)

The first comment has both The Tunnel and Interim in it: but I'm guessing this thread is for just The Tunnel?

Being 4 parts in, I'm assuming Pilgrimage will continue to be a casually enjoyable and moderately thought provoking work for me, without ever becoming truly exciting- which is fine. It's like a cosy cup of tea of a book.

I've been enjoying the commentary on this blog about the book (which I think someone linked previously): https://neglectedbooks.com/?p=3974

as well as this one: https://www.londonfictions.com/doroth...

I like the reading of "the Tunnel" being the conduit between the confines of her family life/expectations, to the light of independence as a city woman. The contrast in narrative space between her cramped rooms and the wandering in London (her internal reflection vs her external exploration) was well done.


Diane | 1943 comments I enjoyed this installment better than the previous two. Her character is growing up and Richardson is improving her writing skills.

I liked reading about the main character's attempts to become a modern woman in an otherwise oppressed society. I am sure this was all very groundbreaking during this time period. Women back then just didn't leave home at such a young age, get a job, and live independently. The stream of consciousness allowed us to hear her thoughts and relate to her, another groundbreaking aspect of this book.

Although I agree that this is an uneventful story in today's times. it is certainly ahead of its time and worthy of its spot on the list.


message 5: by Pip (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pip | 1308 comments I love these books. I agree they are like a cosy cup of tea. but I look forward to spending time with Miriam. I recognise a lot of myself in the young Miriam: her social anxiety, her observations of others, her excitement at intellectual activities and her love of reading. I had noted both the quotes Gail has cited, too. I have a young granddaughter working alone in London and I gave her the first two volumes last night. I am looking forward to finding out what she thinks of them. Has anyone got any ideas about why this section is called The Tunnel? Is it because she has built herself a burrow?


Book Wormy | 1822 comments Mod
I seem to be alone again but I find Miriam and her world so boring for me this is not a cosy cup of tea it's more a heavy duty sleeping tablet.

Some quotes I have highlighted from this section:

"The men who lived on these things had their drudgery done for them." by women who would have thought!!

"There was nothing to turn to. Books were poisoned. Art. All the achievements of men were poisoned at the root. Life is poisoned for women, at the very source" I love Miriam's positive upbeat outlook on life.

"One must choose. Either science or religion. They can't both be true."

"People in order of strength...women, men, children." Well I have found something Miriam and I agree on


message 7: by Pip (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pip | 1308 comments I have just finished Interim, and found it harder going. Sometimes I was confused about what was going on. But then there would be a passage where I would recognise something that I had also experienced but never articulated. "She saw herself relinquishing efforts, putting on a desperate animation, professing interests and opinions and talking as people talk, while they watched her with eyes that saw nothing but a pitiful attempt to hide an awful fate, lonely poverty, the absence of any opening prospect, nothing ahead but a gloom deepening as the years wound themselves off".


message 8: by Pip (last edited May 19, 2019 02:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pip | 1308 comments Or another quote which I loved: "Walking along Oxford Street with a read volume of Ibsen held against you is walking along with something precious between two covers which makes you know you are rich and free". And "...Mrs Bailey was busily thinking behind her voice". These passages make me love Richardson.


Gail (gailifer) | 1196 comments I enjoyed The Tunnel much more than I did the first books. Miriam is growing wiser and ever so slightly more tolerant of the ways of the world, although not of the ways of men. Instead of romantic novels she falls in love with Shakespeare while still being able to recognize that Shakespeare's women are only representations of what men think about women. She can quip about Charles and Cromwell. I appreciated the juxtaposition of her outrage at Hancock's realization, with the help of his kin, that he can not ask Miriam to his science lectures any more, with her struggle to right the ledgers. I particularly enjoyed her bicycle journeys and the total freedom she felt on them. Also the way that she knew the true loveliness of the green because she had London's grey freedom to go home to.
I did not totally understand the long Miss Dear ending very well. I would love someone's else's thoughts on this. I know that she was connected with Miss Dear through Eve "who picked her up in a convalescent home" and that Miriam did get some satisfaction from being good ("strength-giving") to her. However, I am not sure why Miriam was so obliged to care for Miss Dear, or rather trapped into caring for her. Do you feel that as she looked at this working women's poverty that she was caring for her out of goodness? Miriam doesn't seem to be the kind to be trapped by social niceties. Clearly Miriam didn't even like Miss Dear and didn't want to be acting as her only friend but she was acting as her only friend. It was well written and I appreciated Miriam's struggle but I think I might have missed a key point in there.

Quotes: "...but was not indiscriminate deliberate conscious goodness to everybody an insult to humanity?"

"I make people hate me by knowing them and dashing my head against the wall of their behaviour"

"I hate humanity too. Isn't it a lovely day?"


message 10: by Kristel (new) - added it

Kristel (kristelh) | 3831 comments Mod
Okay, I've read enough to post some things to think about. I added them as an edit to opening post.

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 mis happy.


message 11: by Kristel (new) - added it

Kristel (kristelh) | 3831 comments Mod
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


message 12: by Gail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gail (gailifer) | 1196 comments Yes, and why did Miss Dear have such a hold over Miriam. Why did Miriam feel like she had to do things with her and for her? Obviously there was some doing good deeds as part of Miriam’s motivation but she doesn’t appear to like Miss Dear and didn’t seem to want to help her but ending up doing so.


message 13: by Kristel (new) - added it

Kristel (kristelh) | 3831 comments Mod
Yes, all those questions crossed my mind. She even described herself as not altruistic.


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