Sunday, March 31, 2013


The U.K. goes back to what Americans call Daylight Savings Time today—or, as it's been known here since its inception in 1916, British Summer Time (BST). In honor of the occasion, Virginia Woolf's paean to BST in her great 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway. (You can read about "Mr. Willett," proponent of BST, here):

For the great revolution of Mr. Willett’s summer time had taken place since Peter Walsh’s last visit to England. The prolonged evening was new to him. It was inspiriting, rather. For as the young people went by with their despatch-boxes, awfully glad to be free, proud too, dumbly, of stepping this famous pavement, joy of a kind, cheap, tinselly, if you like, but all the same rapture, flushed their faces. They dressed well too; pink stockings; pretty shoes. They would now have two hours at the pictures. It sharpened, it refined them, the yellow-blue evening light; and on the leaves in the square shone lurid, livid — they looked as if dipped in sea water — the foliage of a submerged city. He was astonished by the beauty; it was encouraging too, for where the returned Anglo-Indian sat by rights (he knew crowds of them) in the Oriental Club biliously summing up the ruin of the world, here was he, as young as ever; envying young people their summer time and the rest of it, and more than suspecting from the words of a girl, from a housemaid’s laughter — intangible things you couldn’t lay your hands on — that shift in the whole pyramidal accumulation which in his youth had seemed immovable.

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