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Mrs Dalloway (Original Version)

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This is a novel that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels. Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister", the novel's story is of Clarissa's preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. With the interior perspective of the novel, This is a novel that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels. Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister", the novel's story is of Clarissa's preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. With the interior perspective of the novel, the story travels forwards and back in time and in and out of the characters' minds to construct an image of Clarissa's life and of the inter-war social structure. In 2005 the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present


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This is a novel that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels. Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister", the novel's story is of Clarissa's preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. With the interior perspective of the novel, This is a novel that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels. Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister", the novel's story is of Clarissa's preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. With the interior perspective of the novel, the story travels forwards and back in time and in and out of the characters' minds to construct an image of Clarissa's life and of the inter-war social structure. In 2005 the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present

30 review for Mrs Dalloway (Original Version)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Experiencing Mrs. Dalloway is like being a piece of luggage on an airport conveyor belt, traversing lazily through a crowd of passengers, over and around and back again, but with the added bonus of being able to read people’s thoughts as they pass; this one checking his flight schedule, that one arguing with his wife, the one over there struggling with her cart, bumping into those arguing and checking. For the most part, the ride is smooth as Woolf transitions from one consciousness to another. Experiencing Mrs. Dalloway is like being a piece of luggage on an airport conveyor belt, traversing lazily through a crowd of passengers, over and around and back again, but with the added bonus of being able to read people’s thoughts as they pass; this one checking his flight schedule, that one arguing with his wife, the one over there struggling with her cart, bumping into those arguing and checking. For the most part, the ride is smooth as Woolf transitions from one consciousness to another. But at times, I find myself falling off the conveyor belt. Whether this is a result of my own inabilities or whether Woolf’s dreamy style leads me naturally astray into my own wanderings, I do not know. But I do know that the effort to get back onto her belt are handsomely rewarded. In short, this novel contains some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever seen in print e-ink (welcome to the 21st century, Mrs D). But although quoting long passages in a Goodreads review is not usually my modus operandi, I feel I must do so here just to demonstrate my point. Have you ever had your mind so preoccupied with “stuff” that sometimes a passing comment triggers a strange feeling of not quite right–ness, a feeling which stems from the ability of your subconscious to somehow absorb the comment even while the conscious part of your brain has not yet had time to process it? This happens to me all the time, and that nagging feeling persists until I find time to reflect on what has caused it. Here Woolf captures the moment perfectly: But—but—why did she suddenly feel, for no reason that she could discover, desperately unhappy? As a person who has dropped some grain of pearl or diamond into the grass and parts the tall blades very carefully, this way and that, and searches here and there vainly, and at last spies it there at the roots, so she went through one thing and another; no, it was not Sally Seton saying that Richard would never be in the Cabinet because he had a second-class brain (it came back to her); no, she did not mind that; nor was it to do with Elizabeth either and Doris Kilman; those were facts. It was a feeling, some unpleasant feeling, earlier in the day perhaps; something that Peter had said, combined with some depression of her own, in her bedroom, taking off her hat; and what Richard had said had added to it, but what had he said? There were his roses. Her parties! That was it! Her parties! Both of them criticised her very unfairly, laughed at her very unjustly, for her parties. That was it! That was it! Besides shedding light on my own strange neurosis, I think this passage also reveals something interesting about Clarissa Dalloway. Why do Peter’s comments about her being the perfect hostess bother her so much? Mrs. Dalloway often claims to be fortunate to have married a man who allows her to be independent, and to be grateful to have avoided a catastrophic marriage to one who would have stifled her. But to me, these are just rationalizations for her decision to marry someone with whom she does not share the kind of intimacy that she might have otherwise had. In a way, her parties have taken the place of that intimacy, though it is an intimacy on her terms—she is able to enjoy the company of her high society friends while still keeping them at a comfortable enough distance to shield them from learning too much about her. When Peter gently mocks her parties, it annoys her because it invariably results in her having to reconcile the sacrifices she has made in exchange for her current lifestyle. Another noteworthy aspect of Woolf’s writing is her acute description of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD was not formally recognized until the 1970s, and even though documentation of symptoms was common in the 1940s when World War II veterans were being treated for “mental disturbances,” the fact that Woolf delves into this subject as early as 1925 is pretty profound. Back then, shell shock meant that you were suffering from a form of “exhaustion,” as if veterans of the Great War were no worse off than Britney Spears after a few too many nights out. In this regard, Septimus is a truly tragic character, a victim of a time and place without the resources to help him. His mental anguish seems also to mirror the sufferings of the unrelated Mrs. Dalloway. In fact, despite crossing paths in only the most abstract of ways, Clarissa and Septimus have quite a bit in common. They both struggle to balance their private lives against the need for social inclusion, they both internalize their emotions at the expense of personal relationships, and they both end up having to make difficult choices (albeit with drastically different outcomes) about their respective futures. It’s true. Mrs. Dalloway offers remarkable insight into its characters and is certainly worth the effort. My only question is: does this conveyor belt stop here, or will it take me To the Lighthouse? [September 2012 Update] A recording of me reading this review can be found here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    “So on a summer’s day waves collect, overbalance, and fall; and the whole world seems to be saying ‘that is all’ more and more ponderously, until even the heart in the body which lies in the sun on the beach says too, That is all. Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall. And the body alone listens to the passing bee; the wave breaking; the dog barking, far away “So on a summer’s day waves collect, overbalance, and fall; and the whole world seems to be saying ‘that is all’ more and more ponderously, until even the heart in the body which lies in the sun on the beach says too, That is all. Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall. And the body alone listens to the passing bee; the wave breaking; the dog barking, far away barking and barking.” We first meet Clarissa Dalloway and her husband Richard in The Voyage Out. Too many pages have been turned since my reading of Virginia Woolf’s first novel for me to remember that I’ve met them before. It is similar to meeting someone at a party and then meeting them again several years later. I might have a sliver of memory of meeting them before. I always find it awkward to decide to confess that I do have a vague memory of them, potentially subtly unintentionally insulting them, or brazen it out with of course I remember you (potential minefield if my slender memory is in fact wrong). There is always the option of hitting the restart button by saying what a pleasure it is to meet them. Some of this, of course, is entirely up to how they play it and if they remember meeting me before. Clarissa Dalloway would know exactly how to handle that situation. If she did bungle it, she would recover the situation with a little laugh and say something along the lines of how silly she is about names and faces. I feel that Virginia was a bit harsh in her description of Clarissa in The Voyage Out. Clarissa is "a tall slight woman, her body wrapped in furs, her face in veils, with artistic tastes and inclinations, but no brain whatsoever.” I think that Clarissa has become who she was supposed to be not, as we find out, who she wanted to be. She has become Mrs. Richard Dalloway, and her identity beyond that has become a series of sepia toned memories of her brief life before marriage. If you were to look in any phone book for Phillips County, Kansas, from 1954 to 1995, you would find listed a Mrs. Dean Keeten. From the moment Leota Irene Chester (22) married Dean Leo Keeten she became known as Mrs. Dean Keeten. My grandfather died in 1954, but when she checked herself into the hospital in 1995, for what became the last time, she still registered as Mrs. Dean Keeten. To her, the only power she had existed in my grandfather’s name. I can only think that she was well aware of the powerlessness of women and wanted people to believe that if they irritated her they would have to deal with her husband, ghostly though he was. I’d like to think, too, that there was a lingering pride in being married to the man. Clarissa has trepidations over the changes in herself. She is feeling older. ”. . . June morning; soft with the glow of rose petals for some, she knew, and felt it, as she paused by the open staircase window which let in blinds flapping, dog barking, let in, she thought, feeling herself suddenly shrivelled, aged, breastless, the grinding, blowing, flowering of the day, out of doors, out of the window, out of her body and brain which now failed….” Clarissa is planning a party while her doppelganger Septimus Smith is considering his death. ”He is linked to Clarissa through his anxieties about sexuality and marriage; his anguish about mortality and immortality; and his acute sensitivities to his surroundings, which have gone over the line into madness.” Birds sing in Greek. He is haunted by the war, in particular his memories of his friend Evans who died in the closing months of the war. He hallucinates. He is certainly suffering from acute shell shock. He is: ”Septimus Warren Smith, aged about thirty, pale-faced, beak-nosed, wearing brown shoes and a shabby overcoat, with hazel eyes which had that look of apprehension in them which makes complete strangers apprehensive too. The world has raised its whip; where will it descend? I do wonder if there weren’t some homosexual overtones to his relationship with Evans. I like the idea because if he is a true doppelganger of Clarissa, then her thoughts and memories of Sally Seton tie in so nicely. I would say Clarissa was smitten at first sight. ”But all that evening she could not take her eyes off Sally. It was an extraordinary beauty of the kind she most admired, dark, large-eyes, with that quality which, since she hadn’t got it herself, she always envied---a sort of abandonment, as if she could say anything, do anything;....” Sally must have been a handful because the strained relations with her family necessitated a span of time apart. There is the hope that an unruly child will act better with others than they do with their own family. A kiss shared between the two girls is remembered by Clarissa as one of the most passionate moments in her life. Sally does come to the party, now married, now Lady Rosseter with five sons. She is completely reformed and conformed to the very aspects I’m sure she found so infuriating about her family. Clarissa also has an old flame, Peter Walsh, who is back from India just in time to attend her party. She has not seen Sally or Peter for many years so her party is infused with a certain level of warped nostalgia. Though really one gets the impression that Clarissa might have preferred leaving them both suspended in time when they were who she remembered them to be. She...you see... jilted Peter for Richard. Peter is still in love with her. As she analyzes her thoughts of Peter, it is certainly on a more practical level than a romantic one. She considers, without any gossamer wrapped sentimentality, what her life would have been like if she had married him. In his pockets Peter carries a menagerie of totems. ”...his knife, his watch; his seals, his note-case, and Clarissa’s letter which he would not read again but liked to think of, and Daisy’s photograph?” The knife he pulls out whenever he is nervous and opens and closes it. This trait so annoys Clarissa. It is potentially comparable to fondling oneself into arousal. I had the impression that if he were to lose everything he owned except for those few things he carried on his person, he would be fine. If he were to lose those precious items, he would be out of sorts for quite some time and would be slow to recover from their loss. Peter has trouble with women, leaving scandals in his wake wherever he goes. He falls in love too easily, which could be attributed to a naturally romantic manner. He once followed a girl for a half hour and, from the scant information he gained about her, nearly fell in love with her. Easy to do when you have only flipped through the pages very quickly without taking the time to actual read the narrative. I’d like to think that the reason he is this way is because of the torch he still carries for Clarissa. Nothing else will ever be as real for him anyway. Of course, the woman he loved no longer exists either. Clarissa shares some of her thoughts on death after she hears the chatter at her party about the suicide of Septimus Smith. ”Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate, people feeling the impossibility of reaching the centre which mystically, evaded them; closeness drew apart; rapture faded; one was alone. There was an embrace in death.” The reverence with which this statement about death is made put a shiver down my back. Woolf admitted that she had difficulty writing about the madness of Septimus. She used some of her own depression inspired hallucinations to describe his distressing anxiety. She had planned for Clarissa to die at the end of the novel, but shifted that role to Septimus. Not that I think Clarissa is Virginia, but there are certainly aspects to her thought processes that are shared with Woolf. It may have been too bold, too frightening for those who knew Virginia to have Clarissa kill herself. The treatment, if you call it that, of Septimus is a condemnation of psychology in post WW1 British society. Woolf was treated by several incompetent doctors for her own struggles with depression. Sir William Bradshaw, the famous psychiatrist, who was treating Septimus often bragged about his ability to determine a person’s problems, and to also be able to prescribe a treatment in five minutes or less. Obviously, his respect for his own profession is rather cavalier, and certainly his dismissive attitude to the true nature of mental illness is reprehensible. Virginia Woolf put stones in her pockets, walked into the river Ouse, and drowned herself sixteen years after the publication of this novel. I often think how long she had been considering suicide before she actually made that final decision. I had planned to start this book and then set it aside while I finished another book. That turned out to be impossible. Mrs. Dalloway would not tolerate any rivals. I was hers for the duration. It is a modest book in regards to size, but so packed with so many wonderful observations that I could continue, with ease, to write several more thousand words regarding other aspects of this novel. I loved the style. There is a bounce to the writing as if springs have been attached to the words to keep them from miring down in meditative thought. The characters, though possessing few characteristics that I admire, were likeable, and today I actually find myself missing them as if I had toddled off to India or the West Indies. The ending was superb. ”What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? Peter thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was.” If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bram

    While reading her works, I get the impression that Virginia Woolf knows everything about people and that she understands life better than anyone, ever. Is there a single hidden feeling or uncommon perspective with which she is not intimately acquainted? And does anyone else draw forth these feelings and perspectives with more grace and empathy, and impart them to us in such a lush, inimitable fashion? Perhaps. But you’d never think that while immersed in her exquisite, adult dramas. In Mrs. Dall While reading her works, I get the impression that Virginia Woolf knows everything about people and that she understands life better than anyone, ever. Is there a single hidden feeling or uncommon perspective with which she is not intimately acquainted? And does anyone else draw forth these feelings and perspectives with more grace and empathy, and impart them to us in such a lush, inimitable fashion? Perhaps. But you’d never think that while immersed in her exquisite, adult dramas. In Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf’s able to achieve complete well-roundedness for a half-dozen people in a smattering of pages; where each person is valuable and each is misguided, where disagreements truly have two (or more) reasonable sides, where issues of right wrong black white are utterly absent, dismissed as child’s play, uninteresting. Woolf allows her characters to hate as well as to love, and everyone must expose their private, raw feelings to the reader. I want to get to know Virginia Woolf; I want to absorb her wisdom and to see the world through her eyes, with her soul: wise, beautiful, understanding. She’s one of the few authors whose writing is so evocative and filled with human beings so well-drawn that I frequently drift into thoughts of my own life, comparing myself to Peter Walsh or Clarissa Dalloway or Hugh Whitbread or Sally Seton, ferreting out my own shortcomings as I see them gently spread out in Woolf’s oh-so-real characters. Many people who’ve read Woolf’s shorter works admit surprise at how long it takes to finish them, even if one is fully engrossed. I think this is why: her writing invokes open-ended reverie that’s profoundly personal and inescapable. Woolf’s prose is fantastic, although I prefer that of To the Lighthouse, which has a haunted, ethereal beauty that’s better-fit for the Isle of Skye than for London’s busy streets. Still, she has a poetic way with descriptions that I find so aesthetically pleasing. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. Is there a better (better-sounding, at least) description of Big Ben’s tolling? In many passages, the stops and starts feel abrupt, strange to the reading mind. But for whatever reason, it simply feels right; always just enough and never more. It’s difficult to discuss or sum up the plot of this book, which moves fluidly from the streaming conscious of one character to the next. This passing of the story-telling baton is so subtle, however, that I can’t remember a single transition. None. These moments would likely deserve study and genuflection in an inevitable rereading. I suspect that Mrs. Dalloway is one of those books you can not only reread and enjoy at different stages in life, but one that will offer distinct new pleasures and wisdoms at each stage. In other words, it’s the best kind of book. Mrs. Dalloway ultimately builds toward the title character’s dinner party, but I actually found this finale to be somewhat less interesting than the parts that came before. We’re introduced to many new characters in the final 25 pages, which, despite the fact that each one gets no more than a paragraph of time (and some must share), is something of a nuisance after becoming attached to five or six major players. She wraps things up well with the mainstays though, and the ending manages to be both understated and stirring, providing the readers with the pain and relief that comes with confession. Upon finishing, the first thing that popped into my mind was Radiohead: Everything. In its right place.

  4. 3 out of 5

    Kenny

    What does the brain matter,” said Lady Rosseter, getting up, “compared with the heart?” I didn't realize, until the final page, at its heart, MRS. DALLOWAY is a love story. I absolutely loved this book. Mrs. Dalloway is a complex and compelling novel. It is wrongly described as a portrait of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway; this is not correct. Mrs. Dalloway is the hub that connects the spokes, the characters of Woolf's novel, but there is no main character. What this book is, is a wonderf What does the brain matter,” said Lady Rosseter, getting up, “compared with the heart?” I didn't realize, until the final page, at its heart, MRS. DALLOWAY is a love story. I absolutely loved this book. Mrs. Dalloway is a complex and compelling novel. It is wrongly described as a portrait of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway; this is not correct. Mrs. Dalloway is the hub that connects the spokes, the characters of Woolf's novel, but there is no main character. What this book is, is a wonderful study of its principal characters. The novel enters into the consciousness of the people it takes as it subjects, creating a powerful effect. With Mrs. Dalloway Woolf created a visceral and unyielding vision of madness and a haunting descent into its depths. Mrs. Dalloway follows a set of characters as they go about their lives on a normal day. The eponymous character, Clarissa Dalloway, does simple things: she buys some flowers, walks in a park, is visited by an old friend and throws a party. She speaks to a man who was once in love with her, and who still believes that she settled by marrying her politician husband. She talks to a female friend with whom she was once in love. Then, in the final pages of the book, she hears about a poor lost soul who threw himself from a doctor's window onto a line of railings. Septimus Smith. Shell-shocked after his experiences in World War I, he is a so-called madman, who hears voices. He was once in love with a fellow soldier named Evans--a ghost who haunts him throughout the novel. His infirmity is rooted in his fear and his repression of this forbidden love. Finally, tired of a world that he believes is false and unreal, he commits suicide. The two characters whose experiences form the core of the novel--Clarissa and Septimus--share a number of similarities. In fact, Woolf saw Clarissa and Septimus as more like two different aspects of the same person, and the linkage between the two is emphasized by a series of stylistic repetitions and mirrorings. Unbeknownst to Clarissa and Septimus, their paths cross a number of times throughout the day--just as some of the situations in their lives followed similar paths. Clarissa and Septimus were in love with a person of their own sex, and both repressed their loves because of their social situations. Even as their lives mirror, parallel and cross--Clarissa and Septimus take different paths in the final moments of the novel. Both are existentially insecure in the worlds they inhabit--one chooses life, while the other chooses death. Woolf's stream of consciousness style allows readers into the minds and hearts of her characters. She also incorporates a level of psychological realism that Victorian novels were never able to achieve. The everyday is seen in a new light: internal processes are opened up in her prose, memories compete for attention, thoughts arise unprompted, and the deeply significant and the utterly trivial are treated with equal importance. Woolf's prose is also enormously poetic. She has the very special ability to make the ordinary ebb and flow of the mind sing. Mrs. Dalloway is linguistically inventive, but the novel also has an enormous amount to say about its characters. Woolf handles their situations with dignity and respect. As she studies Septimus and his deterioration into madness, we see a portrait that draws considerably from Woolf's own experiences. Woolf's stream of consciousness-style leads us to experience madness. We hear the competing voices of sanity and insanity. Woolf's vision of madness does not dismiss Septimus as a person with a biological defect. She treats the consciousness of the madman as something apart, valuable in itself, and something from which the wonderful tapestry of her novel could be woven.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    Virginia Woolf I hate you. There I said it. Some authors you just don’t get on with, and Woolf is right down the bottom of my shit list. I’ve got quite a few reasons why: Artistic slaying So there’s a trend with each and every new artistic movement which involves pissing all over the one that came before it. The newness asserts its dominance by destroying the old; it’s happened many times over history in all forms of artifice, whether it be literature, music, paintings or media in today’s society. Virginia Woolf I hate you. There I said it. Some authors you just don’t get on with, and Woolf is right down the bottom of my shit list. I’ve got quite a few reasons why: Artistic slaying So there’s a trend with each and every new artistic movement which involves pissing all over the one that came before it. The newness asserts its dominance by destroying the old; it’s happened many times over history in all forms of artifice, whether it be literature, music, paintings or media in today’s society. The point is Virginia Woolf is a bitch. Here’s what she says about my beloved Jane Austen: “Anyone who has the temerity to write about Jane Austen is aware of [two] facts: first, that of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness; second, that there are twenty-five elderly gentlemen living in the neighbourhood of London who resent any slight upon her genius as if it were an insult to the chastity of their aunts”- from A Room of One's Own. And then this: “With their simple tools and primitive materials, it might be said, Fielding did well and Jane Austen even better, but compare their opportunities with ours! Their masterpieces certainly have a strange air of simplicity” -from Modern Fiction. Pffft…..Is this woman for real? Don't worry Austen, I've got your back. Her Style (or lack thereof) So Virginia Woolf is one of the defining authors of the modernist movement; she wrote the manifesto and she wrote some of the novels. Some would even argue that she is modernism, but is that a good thing? As a cultural movement, I find modernism slightly disturbing. I’m a romantic at heart, I believe in the idealism of Percy Shelley, Wordsworth’s vison of nature and Coleridge’s imagination; thus, I feel like I am naturally predisposed to react negatively towards the movement. Is this reader response theory at work? Yes it is, I’ve warned you I’m incredibly bias towards this. It focuses on a more suburban way of life, and analyses the relationship between humans and the city. Therefore, we have pages and pages of material in which the characters wonder round the streets looking at random things. They observe the sights and they observe each other in a stream of mundane consciousness. They remark on nature and almost, almost, compare it to this new modern life. And this is where I throw my book at the wall. How could the two even be put together in a paragraph? The words Virginia Woolf uses to describe these things are ill at ease in my mind: they don’t belong here: “Beauty, the world seemed to say. And as if to prove it (scientifically) wherever he looked at the houses, at the railings, at the antelopes stretching over the palings, beauty sprang instantly. To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving, flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with perfect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft gold in pure good temper; and now again some chime (it might be a motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks—all of this, calm and reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere.” Is city life natural? Can we really describe a city in these terms? Woolf proposes to capture the real essence of life; this passage here isn’t life: it feels false. Who walks through a city sees a leaf and is enamoured by its beauty. No one. Step outside the city and experience life in the true Wordsworth fashion, visit the lakes see the trees, and see real nature. Granted, the Romantics made it sound sublime, but they captured the heart of it: they didn’t combine city life, with its connotations of ordinariness and industry, with the real essence of nature. Real life is dull So Woolf attempts (cough cough) to capture real life, modernism was said to be more real than realism. This isn’t some exciting plot or twisted love story or gothic drama: this is a book about a woman who hosts a very dull party. She walks round the city a few times making some disjointed descriptions, ponders a shell shocked victim, realises she never fulfilled her repressed lesbian desires, notices that the prime minister is in fact an ordinary man (shock horror- hold onto your seats!) and that’s it. So this new modern thing then, is it good? In the case of this book, no, it’s not. It takes more than a rejection of literary norms to establish greatness. I’ve read modernists next since this one and I’ve actually enjoyed them. Sometimes I feel like Woolf didn’t know quite what she wanted when she wrote this, I feel like other writers adhere closer to her manifesto than she does herself. And, well, they don’t attack Austen.

  6. 3 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘Moments like this are buds on the tree of life.’ Our lives are an elaborate and exquisite collage of moments. Each moment beautiful and powerful on their own when reflected upon, turned about and examined to breath in the full nostalgia for each glorious moment gone by, yet it is the compendium of moments that truly form our history of individuality. Yet, what is an expression of individuality if it is not taken in relation to all the lives around us, as a moment in history, a drop in a multitud ‘Moments like this are buds on the tree of life.’ Our lives are an elaborate and exquisite collage of moments. Each moment beautiful and powerful on their own when reflected upon, turned about and examined to breath in the full nostalgia for each glorious moment gone by, yet it is the compendium of moments that truly form our history of individuality. Yet, what is an expression of individuality if it is not taken in relation to all the lives around us, as a moment in history, a drop in a multitude of drops to form an ocean of existence? Virginia Woolf enacts the near impossibility in ‘Mrs Dalloway’ of charting for examination and reflection the whole of a lifeline for multiple characters, all interweaving to proclaim a brilliant portrait of existence itself, all succinctly packaged in the elegant wrappings of a solitary day. Akin to Joyce’s monumental achievement, Ulysses, Woolf’s poetic plunge into the minds and hearts of her assorted characters not only dredges up an impressively multi-faceted perspective on their lives as a whole, but delivers a cutting social satire extending far beyond the boundaries of the selective London society that struts and frets their 24 hours upon the stage of Woolf’s words. ‘Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.’ This simple phrase is one any serious student of literature would recognize lest they fear an inadequacy of appearance in the eyes of their collegiate classmates, much in the way a great deal of actions in Mrs Dalloway is a learned behavior for the sake of appearances. ‘Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame,’ and much of what we do out of habit, out of adherence to social standards, is what upholds the society at hand and shapes the civilization of the times. Woolf’s novel hinges upon manners and social standings, highlighting a withering hegemony during the a period of change and rebirth with society marching forward into an uncertain and unrestrained future following the first World War. However, before getting too far ahead into a broad scope, it is imperative to examine the immediate and singular implications of the novel. Much of Mrs Dalloway is deceptively simplistic, using the singular as a doorway into the collective, and offering a tiny gift of perfect that can be unpacked to expose an infinite depiction of the world. Take the title, for instance. In most cases, the central character is referred to as Clarissa Dalloway, yet it was essential to place Mrs Dalloway first and foremost in the readers mind to forever bind their impression of her as a married woman, an extension of Mr. Richard Dalloway. In comparison, Miss Kilman is never addressed in text without the title ‘Miss’ to emphasize her unmarried—and, in terms of the social standings of the time, inferior—position in society; or even Ellie Henderson whose poverty doesn’t even earn her a title of marital status in the eyes of the Dalloway circle, forever condemned to a singular name inconsequential to anything. Just the indication of Clarissa as the wife of a member of government expands well beyond her status as an individual to open a conversation about social implications. ‘Mrs Dalloway is always giving parties to cover the silence.’ Personal identity plays a major theme within the novel with each character’s entire life on display simply through their actions and reflection within the solitary June day. Clarissa is examined through a weaving of past and present as she tumbles through an existential crises in regards to her position as the wife of a dignitary and as a the perfect party host. ‘Why, after all, did she do these things? Why seek pinnacles and stand drenched in fire? Might it consume her anyhow?’ Through her interactions with Peter, the reader is treated to her romantic lineage, rejecting Peter for the safer, more social circle security of Robert, which gives way to a questioning if she is merely a snob. Furthermore, the reader witnesses Clarissa in her heights of emotion through her friendship with Sally Seton¹, a relationship that seems to transcend the rigid gender roles of the time. The strange thing, on looking back, was the purity, the integrity, of her feeling for Sally. It was not like one’s feeling for a man. It was completely disinterested, and besides, it had a quality which could only exist between women. Virginia Woolf’s own sexuality has been a topic of interest over the years, and the relationship between Clarissa and Sally—the kiss shared between them being considered by Clarissa to be a notable peak of happiness in her life—is open to interpretation. However, this aspect of Clarissa’s life and identity allows for one of the numerous footholds of feminism found throughout the text, giving way to an image of Sally rejecting standard gender roles through examples such as her openly smoking cigars. Through Clarissa we see a desire of life, of not becoming stagnant, of not ‘being herself invisible; unseen; unknown…this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.’ There must be a way to separate from the society, to form an identity beyond social conventions or gender, to find life in a world hurtling towards death. ‘Once you fall, Septimus repeated to himself, human nature is on you.’ As a foil to the character of Clarissa, Woolf presents the war-torn Septimus. While Clarissa finds meaning in her merrymaking because ‘what she liked was simply life’, and bringing people together to be always moving towards a warm center of life, Septimus is shown as moving outwards, stolen away from the joys of life through his experiences of bloodshed in battle. So there was no excuse, nothing whatever the matter, except the sin for which human nature had condemned him to death; that he did not feel. While Clarissa grapples with her fear of death, ‘that is must end; and no one in the whole world would know how she had loved it all,’ Septimus finds life, a never-ending spiral of guilt for not feeling beset by visions of his fallen comrade, to be a fearsome and loathsome beast. Doctors would have him locked away (a dramatic contrast to the lively parties hosted by Clarissa), and even his own wife forges an identity of guilt and self-conscious sorrow for upholding a clearly disturbed husband. This is a haunting portrait of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, the latter fmuch like Woolf herself suffered. Septimus and Clarissa are like opposite sides to the same coin, however, and many essential parrallels exist between them. Both find solace in the works of Shakespeare², both obsess over a lonely figure in an opposing window (one of Septimus’ last impressions in the land of the living), and both trying to express themselves in the world yet fearing the solitude that their failures will form for them. Even his inability to feel is similar to the love felt by Clarissa: 'But nothing is so strange when one is in love (and what was this except being in love?) as the complete indifference of other people.' Death becomes an important discussion point of the novel, with each character trying to define themselves in the face of, or in spite of, their impending demise. Peter so fears death that he follows a stranger through town, inventing an elaborate fantasy of romance to blot out the deathly darkness. Yet, it is in contrast to death that we find life. Clarissa’s desire for communication, community and life is only given weight in relation to the news of death that invades her party. Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate; people feeling the impossibility of reaching the centre which, mystically, evaded them; closeness drew apart; repute faded, one was alone. There was an embrace in death. What is most impressive about Mrs Dalloway is the nearly endless array of tones and voices that Woolf is able to so deftly sashay between. While each character is unique, it is the contrast between death and life that she weaves that is staggeringly wonderful. Right from the beginning, Woolf treats us to a feast of contrast. For it was the middle of June. The War was over, except for some one like Mrs. Foxcroft at the Embassy last night eating her heart out because that nice boy was killed…but it was over; thank Heaven – over. It was June…and everywhere, thought it was still early, there was a beating, a stirring of galloping ponies, tapping of cricket bats… Cold death and warm life on a sunny June day all mingle together here, and throughout the novel. And we are constantly reminded of our lives marching towards death like a battalion of soldiers, each hour pounded away by the ringing of Big Ben. This motif is two-fold, both representing the lives passing from present to past, but also using the image of Big Ben as a symbol of British society. The war has ended and a new era is dawning, one where the obdurate and stuffy society of old has been shown to be withered and wilting, like Clarissa’s elderly aunt with the glass eye. Not only are the lifelines of each character put under examination, but the history of the English empire as well, highlighting the ages of imperialism that have spread the sons of England across the map and over bloody battlefields. Clarissa is a prime example of the Euro-centrism found in society, frequently confusing the Albanians and Armenians, and assuming that her love of England and her contributions to society must in some way benefit them. ‘Byt she loved her roses (didn’t that help the Armenians?)’ In contrast is Peter, constantly toying with his knife—a symbol of masculinity imposed by an ideal enforced by bloodshed and military might—to evince not only his fears of inadequacy as a Man (fostered by Clarissa’s rejection for him and his possibly shady marriage plans), but his wishy-washy feelings of imperialism after spending time in India. Beauty, the world seemed to say. And as if to prove it (scientifically) wherever he looked at the houses, at the railings, at the antelopes stretching over the palings, beauty sprang instantly. To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving, flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with perfect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft gold in pure good temper; and now again some chime (it might be a motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks—all of this, calm and reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere. Mrs Dalloway is nearly overwhelming in scope despite the tiny package and seemingly singular advancements of plot. Seamlessly moving between the minds and hearts of each character with a prose that soars to the stratosphere, Woolf presents an intensely detailed portrait of post-war Europe and the struggles of identity found within us all. While it can be demanding at times, asking for your full cooperation and attention, but only because to miss a single second would be a tragic loss to the reader, this is one of the most impressive and inspiring novels I have ever read. Woolf manages to take the scale of Ulysses and the poetic prowess of the finest poets, and condense it all in 200pgs of pure literary excellence. Simple yet sprawling, this is one of the finest novels of the 20th century and an outstanding achievement that stands high even among Woolf's other literary giants. This novel has a bit more of a raw feel when compared to To the Lighthouse, yet that work is nothing short of pure perfection, a novel so highly tuned that one worries that even breathing on it will tarnish it's sleek and shiny luster. Dalloway stands just as tall, however, both as a satire on society and a powerful statement of feminism. A civilization is made up of the many lives within, and each life is made up of many moments, all of which culminating to a portrait of human beauty. Though at the end of life we must meet death, it is through death we find life. 5/5 It is a thousand pities never to say what one feels. ¹ With regards to the discussion of marital titles, Sally Seton later becomes Lady Rosseter through marriage. This title further emphasizes marriage as a means of climbing the social ladder, with Sally seen in the past as an impoverished, rebellious ragamuffin, yet through marriage gains an aura of dignity. Perhaps Sally becoming a housewife is a statement on the society of the times suffocating feministic freedoms. ² There is an interesting rejection of Shakespeare found most notably in the characters of Richard Dallowlay and Lady Bruton. This emphasized the dying British society as a cold and artless being, devoid of emotion. This is most evident through Richard Dalloway, seen as a symbol of British society, as he fails to express his emotions of love towards his wife.

  7. 3 out of 5

    Sarah

    Mrs. Dalloway is one of those books one is supposed to adore for its disruption of convention and innovative use of time, sound, parallel narrative structure etc. While I respect and admire the literary advances VW makes with this novel, I just can't get into it. I've read it three times over the course of my reading life, once at 17 then at 21, and finally just a few months ago. I find it sleepy like dozing in a warm insect filled garden, which is not a bad way to spend an afternoon (as long as Mrs. Dalloway is one of those books one is supposed to adore for its disruption of convention and innovative use of time, sound, parallel narrative structure etc. While I respect and admire the literary advances VW makes with this novel, I just can't get into it. I've read it three times over the course of my reading life, once at 17 then at 21, and finally just a few months ago. I find it sleepy like dozing in a warm insect filled garden, which is not a bad way to spend an afternoon (as long as you have some DEET), but ultimately doesn't jolt me into action, revelation, excitement, or motivation. Rather, Mrs. Dalloway really annoys me as a character, and I feel the need to explore this since many of my friends cringe when I tell them I'm just not that into her. I'll continue trying to figure out my problem with this novel and post an update someday. Meanwhile, if there is anyone out there who sort of doesn't like it too, please let me know; I feel lonely.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    Virginia Woolf set out to write an unconventional novel and succeeded, although since she wrote, we have read so many unconventional novels that it seems tame. In her introduction to the edition I read, Maureen Howard writes: “If ever there was a work conceived in response to the state of the novel, a consciously modern novel, it is Mrs. Dalloway.” She may have been influenced by Ulysses because all the action occurs in one day. Church bells mark significant events. In turn this marking of the d Virginia Woolf set out to write an unconventional novel and succeeded, although since she wrote, we have read so many unconventional novels that it seems tame. In her introduction to the edition I read, Maureen Howard writes: “If ever there was a work conceived in response to the state of the novel, a consciously modern novel, it is Mrs. Dalloway.” She may have been influenced by Ulysses because all the action occurs in one day. Church bells mark significant events. In turn this marking of the day influenced The Hours, a book based on Woolf’s life, by Michael Cunningham. But unlike in Joyce’s work, this is not an ordinary day. True, it centers on what we would now call a cocktail party – Mrs. Dalloway lived for those and hosted them frequently – but it’s also the day when a former flame of hers (the fire on his part, not hers) returns from five years in India. And it’s also a day when one of the characters we follow commits suicide. His doctor arrives at the party and announces this to everyone as soon as he’s inside the door – now there’s a downer! Through her reflections and that of several other characters we learn the details of Mrs. Dalloway’s life. She’s 52, pale, a bit sickly, attractive enough but not beautiful. We learn of her husband, a nice man, a government bureaucrat whose career has peaked – he will never be a Minister. She worries about him having a business lunch today with another woman friend of hers and Mrs. Dalloway was not invited. Of her daughter, she worries that she is being “unduly influenced” by the religion of her female tutor (Catholicism?). And of course she worries about meeting the old flame – he still loves her after 30 years, a marriage and various affairs. True love or arrested development? The book, published in 1925, is also a time capsule of daily life in London in the early post-war years. (WW I of course.) A time when horses had been replaced by cars. As we follow her around town in her preparations we see the hustle and bustle of the city, the grocers, the shop girls, the crazies in the park. A good book. It makes you think about life and death. You can’t ask for more than that. Her language is also fun. When is the last time you were “whelmed?” Not overwhelmed – just plain old whelmed. What’s a Holland bag? Even on the web, apparently no one knows.

  9. 5 out of 5

    İntellecta

    England in 1923. A land between world wars, between tradition and modernity. Virginia Woolf's fourth novel, "Mrs Dalloway" This book offers many partial even very modern approaches, reflecting the role of woman in society, the importance of marriage, the mental illness as a sign of our time, the consequences of war, the power of medicine and much more ..." Ps:If you like the technique "Stream of consciousness "the book is suitable for you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    THE TERMINATOR 2 OF DOILEYS I can see why people hate Mrs-Dalloway-the-book (there are a fair few this-is-so-boring-I-lit-myself-on-fire kind of one/two star reviews) because Mrs Dalloway-the-book is the Terminator 2 of doileys, ribbons, and fetching hats, the Die Hard 4 of a sunny day in London, 1923, the Apocalypto of curtains and place mats and memories of moonlight boating parties; and the Transformers of wondering if you married the right person. You have to get into Mrs Woolf’s style, which THE TERMINATOR 2 OF DOILEYS I can see why people hate Mrs-Dalloway-the-book (there are a fair few this-is-so-boring-I-lit-myself-on-fire kind of one/two star reviews) because Mrs Dalloway-the-book is the Terminator 2 of doileys, ribbons, and fetching hats, the Die Hard 4 of a sunny day in London, 1923, the Apocalypto of curtains and place mats and memories of moonlight boating parties; and the Transformers of wondering if you married the right person. You have to get into Mrs Woolf’s style, which is a nimsywimsymimsy breathless-hush exalted stream of consciousness thing, all the sentences, if that’s what they are, make zigzags like mad flies, they each contain at least 29 commas, the pages zag randomly or not from one character’s brain to another (did you ever see Slacker? Like that, but more British), and as usual in these high falutin affairs, there’s zero story. You want a story? Lowbrow oik! Oh, okay, she’s having a party, and a guy is having problems from shellshock, and then she has the party and people come, rich types. End. Don’t look for anything else. STUCK UP SELF-ADMIRING TORY COW I can also see why you’d hate Mrs Dalloway herself, too, stuck-up self-admiring Tory cow. For the first 50 pages I was really hating on her doileys and her oh-gosh-I-was-so-clever-to-marry-the-right-man untrammelled egotism. Oh, little me, and all of this sparkly stuff, how lucky and deserving I am! She’s more than a little repulsive. But of course not to the people in her life, they’re all like oh Clarissa, let me fondle your doileys. (Except one, hah! But she’s ugly as sin, and a religious nutjob, so, you know, those sorry types are bound not to be in love with Clarissa. ) [not a good picture - Mrs D would think this was VULGAR] Mrs Woolf winds her famous slippery metaphysical twistical delirious poetical lyrical ecstatic style through the minds of around six main characters who orbit each other during this one June day, a solar system of social engagement. What you have going on is 1923-style 360 degree feedback appraisals! Yes, that intolerable oppressive management tool of the 21st century is right here, as all the characters relentlessly judge each other and are judged in turn, and most, even dear Clarissa, come in for some industrial strength sneering by their nearest and dearest, they all condescend and look down upon each other, and then they flip and start making googoo eyes, it’s all a bit emotionally high-strung and vapid. Anyway this lot are my class enemy (they haven’t gone away) (but also they did create 90% of the great art, or pay the artists to create it, so I am a bit conflicted about the upper class) - but I was kind of hoping there would be a Russian communist with a bomb to blow them all to buggery when they all got to the party but it’s not that sort of novel. Instead it’s actually THE TAO OF WOOLF The warp and the weft, the weep and the woof, life itself, never so well expressed – here’s Clarissa: She feared time itself, the dwindling of life; how year by year her share was sliced, how little the margin that remained was capable any longer of stretching, of absorbing, as in the youthful years, the colours, salts, tones of existence, so that she filled the room she entered, and felt often as she stood hesitating one moment on the threshold of her drawing-room, an exquisite suspense, such as might stay a diver before plunging while the sea darkens and brightens beneath him, and the waves which threaten to break but only gently split their surface, roll and conceal and encrust as they just turn over the weeds with pearl. That’s it – that’s this novel ONLY FOUR STARS - HUH? I have to admit that quite a bit of the brain-delving and soul-surfing (and there is nothing here which isn’t) made no literal sense to me, I just could not follow what was being said & would love to ask a major Dalloway fan exactly what this or that passage was on about. So it does - towards the end - slightly turn into exquisite Woolfian background music. It is for that reason I cannot grant the elusive fifth star. THE WANDERING ROCKS One year before Mrs D, Joyce published Ulysses, and VW had a copy. One of the chapters in Ulysses is The Wandering Rocks in which several characters peregrinate through Dublin, and Joyce streams their consciousnesses, jumping from person to person. And of course, like Ulysses, Mrs D happens all on one day. And Bloomsday and Dallowday are set in capital cities in the month of June. Other than that, VW’s version of the interior monologue is completely utterly different. DAVID BOWIE IMPLIED At one point a random young woman down in London for a job thinks she’ll remember this day, her first day in the big city. Fifty years from now she’ll still remember it, she thinks. So it being 1923 in the novel, that means she’ll be remembering it in June 1973 while Life on Mars by David Bowie or Skweeze Me Pleeze Me by Slade plays from a nearby radio. There’s an odd thought. WOOLFISH GRIN VW is even, rarely, funny - a young man falls for his English tutor : He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    "What does the brain matter compared with the heart?"so states one of the last lines in this short, brilliant novel, a thought -provoking book, life is temporary after all. This phrase is about Mr. Richard Dalloway who works for the government in the early 1920's in London, England. Clarissa Dalloway's nice, steady husband, rather ordinary, he will never be a member of the prestigious cabinet, nevertheless she loves him, he reciprocates that emotion...she knows, but he's much too embarrassed to "What does the brain matter compared with the heart?"so states one of the last lines in this short, brilliant novel, a thought -provoking book, life is temporary after all. This phrase is about Mr. Richard Dalloway who works for the government in the early 1920's in London, England. Clarissa Dalloway's nice, steady husband, rather ordinary, he will never be a member of the prestigious cabinet, nevertheless she loves him, he reciprocates that emotion...she knows, but he's much too embarrassed to verbalize , showing it by giving wonderful flowers, yet there is something missing in her existence, she has a great husband, a beautiful, dutiful daughter Elizabeth 18, devoted to her father, a good home. She, while not pretty at 52, but attractive , gives glamorous, grand parties to her many friends and relatives, important people in society mostly. The movers and shakers in the nation, the perfect hostess, elegant, calm, sophisticated, always says the right thing to others, still she feels bored, needing excitement. Clarissa's mind constantly wanders, thinking and pondering, has she chosen the right path. The happy memories of the past, thirty years ago...of the frightening Peter her first love, wild Sally Seton, the best friend Clarissa ever had, so fearless, outrageous and amusing, everyone liked, Peter Walsh is coming back from India, a man she could have married, nothing dull about him, an unstable but always vibrant, her former lover, will be at the party ( not very successful), rich Sally also, Mrs . Dalloway is uneasy. The narrative of the book takes place in just one day, the ubiquitous giant Big Ben clock, sounds the alarm, striking often, every hour, and more, as time flows by reminding her not only the party is near but life is limited, should not waste it, in idle dreams, live in the present, be content, this crazy, unpredictable, cold world... will not continue forever, not last. Virginia Woolf's most popular novel, still has dark aspects, the trying to forget , not possible...set a few years after the end of hostilities. A classic, from another era.vast sufferings of World War 1 soldiers, is vaguely mentioned ( except for one character), the English

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog. Although famous for focusing upon a single day in the life of one woman, Mrs. Dalloway in fact ricochets from one interior life to the next, collapsing the present into the past as it does so. The novel is far less interested in defining Clarissa Dalloway as an individual than in exploring the many-sided effects she has on an assortment of others; by the end of the narrative, Woolf has offered her readers not a neat My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog. Although famous for focusing upon a single day in the life of one woman, Mrs. Dalloway in fact ricochets from one interior life to the next, collapsing the present into the past as it does so. The novel is far less interested in defining Clarissa Dalloway as an individual than in exploring the many-sided effects she has on an assortment of others; by the end of the narrative, Woolf has offered her readers not a neat portrait of a personality but several impressionistic sketches of the same subject. Woolf's multifaceted characterization successfully thwarts attempts to sum up Mrs. Dalloway or to reduce her to her relationship with any one person. Likewise, the author's elaborate but accessible prose resists careless reading, forcing her readers to approach the short novel deliberately. Mrs. Dalloway was Woolf's first success at writing experimental long fiction, and it remains the perfect introduction to her mature work.

  13. 3 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    698. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf Mrs Dalloway (published on 14 May 1925) is a novel by Virginia Woolf that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post–First World War England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels. عنوانها: خانم دالووی (دالاوی)؛ خانم دلوی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ انتشاراتیها: (نگاه، نیلوفر، رواق، زمان نو) سه ترجمه از کتاب هست: جناب پرویز داریوش، بانو فرزانه طاهری؛ بانو خجسته کیهان، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یازدهم ماه ژانویه سال 2012 میلادی 698. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf Mrs Dalloway (published on 14 May 1925) is a novel by Virginia Woolf that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post–First World War England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels. عنوانها: خانم دالووی (دالاوی)؛ خانم دلوی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ انتشاراتیها: (نگاه، نیلوفر، رواق، زمان نو) سه ترجمه از کتاب هست: جناب پرویز داریوش، بانو فرزانه طاهری؛ بانو خجسته کیهان، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یازدهم ماه ژانویه سال 2012 میلادی عنوان: خانم دالووی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ مترجم: پرویز داریوش؛ تهران، نگاه، 1362؛ در 240 ص؛ شابک: 9643513947؛ چاپ دوم 1387؛ چاپ سوم 1389؛ شابک: 9789643513948؛ عنوان: خانم دلوی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ مترجم: فرزانه طاهری؛ تهران، نیلوفر، 1388؛ چاپ سوم 1395؛ در 340 ص؛ شابک: 9789644484186؛ عنوان: خانم دالاوی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ مترجم: خجسته کیهان؛ تهران، نگاه، 1386؛ در 240 ص؛ شابک: 9643513947؛ چاپ دوم 1387؛ چاپ سوم 1389؛ شابک: 9789643513948؛ رمان «خانم دالاوی» در سال 1925 میلادی و به شیوه ی جریان سیال ذهن نوشته شد. (جریان سیال ذهن شکل خاصی از روایت داستان است که مشخصه‌ های اصلی آن پرشهای زمانی پی در پی، درهم ریختگی دستوری و نشانه‌ گذاری، تبعیت از زمان ذهنی شخصیت داستان، و گاه نوعی شعرگونگی در زبان است). در رمان خانم دالاوی، ماجراها از یک صبح تا شب، در شهر لندن روی میدهند. داستان با کلاریسا دالاوی، (خانم دالاوی) آغاز، و در ادامه ی داستان، با دیگر شخصیتهای رمان، از طریق ذهنیات و افکارشان، آشنا میشویم. شاید بتوان گفت: دغدغه ی اصلی وولف در این کتاب زندگی روزمره ی زنان، و مردان طبقه اشراف، و به نوعی مرفه جامعه انگلستان، پس از جنگ جهانگیر نخست، است. وولف در این کتاب با سبک ویژه ی خود، جریان سیال ذهن، به موشکافی دغدغه های همین افراد، و همچنین روابط آنها در بطن شهر لندن میپردازد. ا. شربیانی

  14. 5 out of 5

    Violet wells

    It’s been a while since I last read Mrs Dalloway. I’d always had it down as her third best book, but falling a fair way short of The Waves and To the Lighthouse. Therefore I was surprised by just how much I loved and admired it this time round. It’s probably her most popular novel – because it’s more intimate, more personal and sprightly and warm than her other novels. What’s most brilliant about it is the easy fluid way she makes of each passing moment a ruffled reservoir of the inner life of h It’s been a while since I last read Mrs Dalloway. I’d always had it down as her third best book, but falling a fair way short of The Waves and To the Lighthouse. Therefore I was surprised by just how much I loved and admired it this time round. It’s probably her most popular novel – because it’s more intimate, more personal and sprightly and warm than her other novels. What’s most brilliant about it is the easy fluid way she makes of each passing moment a ruffled reservoir of the inner life of her characters. Every moment alters the composition, the ebb and flow of memory and identity. And everything, very subtly, is experienced in relation to the inevitability of death. It’s a deeply elegiac novel and one of the finest celebrations of the beauty to be gleaned in the passing moment I can think of. She does, now and again, get carried away with her metaphors. Extending them until they bear little relation with their starting point, like shadows that have no source. In fact so epic and sweeping are her metaphors sometimes – usually when she’s writing about/making fun of men - that you think she might have had a copy of The Iliad on her desk while writing this. And men get a pretty rough deal on the whole. There’s probably no richer book about London in the history of literature. I remember when I was a skinny nineteen year old thing walking about London and how Woolf’s presence, through her prose, was almost like a medium permeating the squares of Bloomsbury, the bridges and churches and parks of the city. She added an entire layer to my experience of the hidden riches of London. At one point Clarissa muses, “It ended in a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her scepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places, after death. Perhaps - perhaps.” Well, no question, Virginia still haunts certain places –pretty much every London location she writes about in this novel.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    There's nothing going on in this book. That is to say, to be honest, it does nothing happening. The fact is that we are prepared there and participates in a vague social evening. This is not insignificant, perhaps, but still we admit that it is not too far from it. Yet it is in complete disregard of the emptiness of the romantic frame of this masterpiece, because what happens there really worth, it's a real literary revolution! It is because there has already been a time when women did not have the There's nothing going on in this book. That is to say, to be honest, it does nothing happening. The fact is that we are prepared there and participates in a vague social evening. This is not insignificant, perhaps, but still we admit that it is not too far from it. Yet it is in complete disregard of the emptiness of the romantic frame of this masterpiece, because what happens there really worth, it's a real literary revolution! It is because there has already been a time when women did not have the right to write! As crazy as it may seem today, they then had to hide behind their publications to the name of any man or take a pseudonym. And even when the unjust prohibition disappeared, writing has continued to be dominated by trends in the linearity and the logic masculine. And now suddenly, abruptly (at least for my humble self), we find here the writing of a woman unfolding as it exists and actually believe in her femininity. We spotted a thought that staring us in the face, that makes us dream, which also bothers us sometimes, but always better to bounce and revive the following passage in our interest advantage. Everywhere, the thread intertwine without getting lost, or finally, maybe they can get lost, but who knows if they lose nothing by waiting? After all, it follows no Mrs Dalloway only a few hours and it follows only in so far as really this is achieved. The whole had completely enchanted, entertained and captivated me. I felt like talking to a pretty smart woman, pungent imagination, irony and playfulness that does not leave me time to place one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

    I love travelling by train, and this is one of the best environments for reading. Luckily I got a seat for myself and the coach is pleasant. There is so much light. How enjoyable! What a funny way to start the book. Someone says that Clarissa Dalloway is setting off to buy the flowers. But here is the famous quote What a lark!, what a plunge!, but it is not quite at the beginning of the book and cannot quite join other iconic beginnings like Call me Ishmael.. or Longtemps je me suis couché de bon I love travelling by train, and this is one of the best environments for reading. Luckily I got a seat for myself and the coach is pleasant. There is so much light. How enjoyable! What a funny way to start the book. Someone says that Clarissa Dalloway is setting off to buy the flowers. But here is the famous quote What a lark!, what a plunge!, but it is not quite at the beginning of the book and cannot quite join other iconic beginnings like Call me Ishmael.. or Longtemps je me suis couché de bonne heure.. or En un lugar de la Mancha de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme.. Regent’s park is certainly my favourite park in London. She is walking through this green and fresh and cool park. Did she mention that she was going to get the flowers? She meets a certain Hugh Whitbread and talks of doctors. I’d better write down the name. I always forget the names when reading. This Peter must have been her love. She is now 52; earlier the age of 18 is mentioned. We see her at two different ages then. And we hear more about her would-be husband. Right at the beginning. I wonder where this is taking us. Now I want to know more about her husband Richard. What is he like? if she keeps him absent. What a weird thing to say, that it was silly to have other reasons for doing things. Much rather would she have been one of those people like Richard who did things for themselves. This quote makes me even more curious with the husband. Peter is half Indian half English. He seems more intriguing now; I feel curiosity to know more of his background. Offering newspapers now. No, gracias. I do not have the least interest in reading one. My treat is to have these hours to read my books and continue with dreamy Clarissa instead of current affairs. Now she mentions flowers: delphiniums, sweet peas, arum lilies and carnations. This bouquet does not equal Proust’s flowers in spite of the beauty of English gardens. Carnations are the flowers most fittingly worn by gypsies. Scarlet carnations. I am bit confused with this Septimus Warren Smith, what a weird name and makes funny initials, SMS (Short Message Service). He is 30. How curious, Woolf’s writing is so fluid but exact ages are given to several of the characters. What is this noise thing? I don’t get it. The Britishness continues, now with Royal family and Ascot and Hurlingham and the Empire and Gent’s clubs and, of course, the Tatler. Those svelte windmills fruit of the new aerodynamics and huge and powerful turbines in this barren landscape of La Mancha. This is such a different view from the greenness of Regent’s park, and the contrast between what I see and what I imagine almost hurts my eyes. I wonder what the dear mythical figure of Don Quijote would have made of these modern windmills; he could not have thought they were giants, they are too slender. The noise is from a car. But the explosion has not brought memories from the war to the characters. She mentions the sounds heard and the harmonies and describes the space between sound. I like this. Poor Lucrezia; she says that to love makes one solitary. What a sad thing to say. And now this strange sentence, that it is cowardly for a man to say he would kill himself. It makes me very uncomfortable to read such a premonition for Virginia. We are in Lucrezia’s mind now and I have not noticed how imperceptibly we – the other readers and I – are shifted from the mind of a person to another one. I am finding myself reading back. Back to Clarissa, now in her living room, looking at the silver and mending her silk dress, with the thimble. My mother always reminded me to use the thimble, which I never quite got the hang of it. I cling to dates and to hard facts whenever they are included, otherwise I feel like swimming in the open sea. So, Peter was in love with Clarissa in the 90s, and talks about the death of her soul. And five years have passed since the end of the war. And Peter now is 53, so one year older than Clarissa. And here is another scene with flowers, and this time there are holly hocks, dahlias. I will have to look in google images to see what holly hocks look like. Make them float with heads cut off and make them float on water. This also reminds me of Odette who had her flowers floating on water, giving the scene a whiff of a brothel. Aunt Helen thinks that it is wicked to treat flowers like that. Quite right! So, yes, Proust is right in mentioning this as a sign of vulgarity. And now they bring lunch. Good. Nowadays the service in trains is as it was in planes before. My tray arrives. I suppose I am hungry and welcome the interruption. I put my book aside and note the green and ivory of the seats and walls of the train coach. The two women kiss on the lips. Again Woolf’s ghost enters through her writing. I perk up as Peter Walsh arrives to visit Clarissa. This accelerates the pulse of the plot and my curiosity is awakened. Do I detect a smack of envy in Peter? He does not like the importance of the social positions of Hugh and Dalloway but plans to ask them to put him into some secretary’s office with the idea of earning him about 500 a year. So, he does like that importance of the two men after all, if he can also obtain a benefit. Nothing exists outside us except a state of mind. Another modernist concept and representational issues again. Once one is aware of this, there is no going back. There is a comment now on the strange name of Septimus. So, it is indeed a strange name. It wasn't just my idea. I think I am getting the hang of how consciousness shifts from one person to another and it is through this subtle use of the third person. Before you realize it acts as a bridge and you are inside someone else’s mind. One can feel the depression in this book, in spite of all the beautiful things mentioned. I flick back to Jarndyce & Jarndyce and take a break. What a change of gears this is with Dickens alliterations and repetitions, hammering ideas and making sure that he does not lose a reader and that the reader knows well where he stands. One can watch a movie too, which is about to start, but I prefer to continue reading. Peter Walsh is thinking of Clarissa on top of a bus. He goes through Shaftesbury Avenue. No matter how many years go by this avenue will always make me think of the Shaftesbury Psalter under its glass case at the British museum and subject of one of my BA theses. So very beautiful. Now that the British Library has moved to King’s Cross it may no longer be on display. Peter arrives at the hotel and reads her letter. This is a very good view into Clarissa. The temptation to live at its extremes in contrast to the assurance of an established and predictable life. This dilemma is so relevant to so many people, it is uncanny. What she said before about doing things, like her party, because she loves life does not ring entirely true. Has she fled from life in rejecting Peter? Bartlett pears. What is going on? Oh, Peter is eating and observing and being observed by a Mr and Mrs Morris from Liverpool. Walsh wears glasses and we are shifting again. Walsh has the manners of the upper class and this is what the Bartlett pears say. Is there bitterness in Woolf’s irony?, do I detect that she is snobbish after all, by paying so much attention to clues in social behaviour, to judge someone so much based on the person’s social standing? There is something about Walsh that does not seem very attractive to me. He appears very well pleased with himself because the Morrises like him and all because of the Bartlett pears. Not only does she give the age of the characters, we are following the clock. I realize now and flick some pages back. Big Ben is ordering the life of Londoners. In one and a half hours we arrive at Alicante. By law he has to be interned, if he has expressed desires to kill himself. I did not know that. Was Virginia Woolf confined? Most probably. I will have to read a biography on her. Geraniums just seem out of place in London. This city calls for more delicate flowers and colours. Tough geraniums belong to the streets of Granada under its torrid sun and adorning whitewashed walls. Consciousness moves like a camera, shifting viewpoints and positing itself behind the eyes of different characters but it does not really change its nature as it shifts. It just records a different discourse but language throughout remains the same… Do we really enter the characters? I am not sure. Finally the husband moves in. Richard Dalloway. I like him and yet I think we are not supposed to. Conservatism vs freedom? I like the image of Lady Bruton and the hold she thinks she has on her guests. And they went further and further away from her, being attached to her by a thin thread… which would stretch and stretch, get thinner an thinner as they walked across London; as if one’s friends were attached to one’s body, after lunching with them, by a thin thread.. It reminds me of Mm de Guermante’s eyes moving and walking away while continuing to being attached to her body by a loose thread. They look at Spanish jewellery. What is meant by this?, Isabelinas? Esther’s Narration, I mean Esther Summerson’s, and her sweetness and clarity of mind. Around seventy five years earlier, the life span of a person, and the language has been turned around. These modernists metamorphosed representation. Did Woolf like Dickens? One O’clock . Exact time and the age of characters are fixed and defined, and the rest flows. Big Ben sound takes us back to Clarissa’s drawing room, and suddenly we jump into 3 o’clock. Two hours for two paragraphs. Where is La durée? Yes, I like Richard Dalloway; he is more true to himself than Walsh. He is content even if he does not bring himself to tell her that he loves her. She is not feeling regret and I sense that she did the right choice. Walsh is full of intentions but does not succeed in taking off. And her Party begins, and it is a bit boring to read. Spanish shawls are mentioned. What are these? Mantillas or mantones de Manila They must be the second; the first would be too churchy for this setting. They are not Spanish but Chinese even if they arrived to Europe via Manila. Finally the two men finally face each other. Everything is so buried and so well guarded and civilized that this scene just comes and goes. Alicante. I can smell the sea with gratitude as soon as we step out of the train station. I have not been here for years. This time the centre of town, as we zigzag through the maze of streets in the taxi, makes me realize what a Moorish city it is, no wonder with such a name as Al-Laqant. These narrow streets and alleys and buildings of massive golden stone remind me of La Valleta. A port to the sea. The choice is between roses and Geopolitik. Are we supposed to despise Clarissa, Virginia?, No, what she liked was simply life. That is what I do it for..... to life. The two different aspects of India, the political or the beauty, clash. The pulling forces are the tensions for the Empire or the orchids and magnificent mountains. Everything is India. And now she sees herself carried on the back of coolies. Well, here Virginia’s conception of Clarissa is clear. If there were any doubts about what Woolf thinks of Clarissa now we know. The Bradshaws arrive. Ah, yes, the doctor; so yes Septimus has killed himself. I have to go back and reread that section. So subtle. I think about reading, how much the reader brings in. I knew this and project it in the text. How did I know it? The section is written as a watercolour. We see the defined picture of what has happened in Clarissa’s party. Is she heartless?, her party and the life of a suffering youth. Clarissa made out of smiling and glossy cardboard. She did not pity him. She is upset her party is being damaged. But it is Woolf herself, the creator, and not the Bradshaws, who is spoiling her party. She has served it on a platter in front of Clarissa’s nose, in spite of her flowers. Are SMS and Clarissa two sides of the same coin? Not perfectly. Clarissa’s love of life is presented as superficial and not as, literally, life-saving. And I feel the same with the dilemma presented by the two men in her life. I would have expected Peter Walsh to present a more tantalizing view of life. She settles, contentedly, for the middle way. I enjoy being in the Paseo now, parallel to the beach and with all those yachts, and watching passers-by. The pavement with those wave patterns in black and white and the palm tress, the distinctive image of Alicante. This pavement is from the 1930s, almost from Clarissa’s time. Will sit at the heladería and finish this. No, I am not trying to imitate Virginia Woolf. Who would dare? It is just that whenever I read one of her books my mind wanders off to nowhere, or to another book, or to myself. For there she was. For here I am. Looking at the sea. And yes, what a lark!, what a plunge!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Magrat Ajostiernos

    No he podido conectar más con este libro y con todos sus personajes, no esperaba que fuera a absorberme esta historia de tal manera, sentir con tanta intensidad lo que Clarissa, Peter Walsh, Sally, Septimus e incluso Doris sienten, pero así ha sido. Me ha ocurrido con muy pocos libros en mi vida este nivel de empatía TOTAL, y se ha convertido directamente en uno de mis libros preferidos.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Essay on book Clarissa, Septimus, and Virginia: Mental Health in Interwar Literature Joseph G. Spuckler, Jr The aftermath of World War I created significant changes in society. The industrialized war not only left the continent in tatters, but it also shook society. Virginia Woolf captured the post-war changes in society in her work. Although Woolf does not write about the war itself, its effects are felt. In Jacob’s Room, an idealistic young man goes to war and does not return. In To The Lighthous Essay on book Clarissa, Septimus, and Virginia: Mental Health in Interwar Literature Joseph G. Spuckler, Jr The aftermath of World War I created significant changes in society. The industrialized war not only left the continent in tatters, but it also shook society. Virginia Woolf captured the post-war changes in society in her work. Although Woolf does not write about the war itself, its effects are felt. In Jacob’s Room, an idealistic young man goes to war and does not return. In To The Lighthouse, perhaps Woolf’s most experimental work, war is mentioned in the section titled “Time Passes.” Although in this section two main characters die in parenthetical information, the soldier, Andrew Ramsey, gets slightly more attention although also parenthetical: “[A shell exploded. Twenty or thirty young men were blown up in France, among them Andrew Ramsay, whose death, mercifully, was instantaneous.]” (To The Lighthouse, 111) In addition to the “merciful” death of a character, the death toll from the shell is inexact. What difference is there between twenty and thirty men when millions have died? The senseless slaughter of a generation changed people's views. After the war, words like “duty” are mentioned with sarcasm. Many of those who returned home alive, returned home broken. Perhaps the best example of the effects of the war in Woolf’s writing is in Mrs. Dalloway. Written six and a half years after the war the consequences are still felt. As Mrs. Dalloway is picking up the flowers on Bond Street people are looking up at a skywriting airplane: As they looked the whole world became perfectly silent, and a flight of gulls crossed the sky, first one gull leading, then another, and in this extraordinary silence and peace, in this pallor, in this purity, bells struck eleven times, the sound fading up there among the gulls. (Mrs. Dalloway 20-21) Eleven is significant because the war ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11th is Remembrance Day and at 11:00 there is traditionally a two minute period of silence. It marks the silence in a war that nearly destroyed Europe.  The silence on Bond Street is also symbolic of the war’s end. The white underbelly of urban gulls in Britain may be close enough to give the illusion of doves or peace. Later in Between the Acts, Woolf would use a similar passage but with planes as a second war raged in Europe. Woolf chooses to examine the issue of mental illness in returning veterans and the hidden problem of mental illness in society as well as possibly writing about her problems.  The cheering crowds that sent the soldiers to war were less receptive to those coming back with post-traumatic stress disorder at the time called “shell shock.” War is as old as civilization and people have come to deal with the death that accompanies it. Although death is difficult to deal with on a personal and societal level, it is part of the reality of war. Shell shock, however, was completely unexpected. Artillery barrages in the war were unlike any before it. Hours and days of bombardment wore on men’s sanity. The command, who was not in the bunkers, treated shell shock as cowardice, malingering, and termed it hysteria, a “female disease,” to shame the men. It was a significant problem for survivors. When the dead are brought back home, they are buried, and the process is straightforward. What to do to men who come home alive but broken? Septimus Warren Smith is a veteran of the Great War; although he survives the war physically, he is damaged mentally. Septimus’ doctor told his wife to take him out to notice things. Perhaps stimuli would snap him out of his melancholy or funk. In Mrs. Dalloway, the reader is introduced to Septimus with the sound of a car’s backfire. His wife has to break him away from his lock on the vehicle. He responds angrily and announces, in public, that he is going to kill himself. She remembers Septimus as a man who fought and was brave and is now worried she has lost her husband to the war. In the war, Septimus served well and was promoted. He became close with his officer, Evans, and when Evans is killed in the final days of the war, Septimus prides himself on remaining stoic in the face of his friend's death. He is determined not to let the war destroy him. Although he can feel himself slipping away at times, he tries to control it by being cautious. However, he cannot control the voices and the hallucinations. It is now Evans, his former officer, who haunts his hallucinations. He sees and hears his old friend from beyond the grave. Lucrezia, Septimus’ wife, also sees the change in the soldier she married in Italy and the changes in herself. She was a fun loving woman who has been worn down after years of taking care of Septimus. Stress has caused her to lose weight, her wedding ring slides off her finger, and she has no one to share the burden. Like Septimus, she too feels alone. She was an Italian war bride and has no friends or family in England for support. She is an outsider in English society. It is not that she is unsympathetic but she is overburdened, but she cannot be happy without him. He, however, is haunted by madness: “He listened. A sparrow perched on the railing opposite chirped Septimus, Septimus, four or five times over and went on, drawing its notes out, to sing freshly and piercingly in Greek words how there is no crime and, joined by another sparrow, they sang in voices prolonged and piercing in Greek words, from trees in the meadow of life beyond a river where the dead walk, how there is no death.” (Mrs. Dalloway 23-24) How does Woolf present a realistic picture of madness? Most at the time had no idea of the experience of insanity; it was something locked away and out of sight. Returning veterans presented a large scale problem that was unexpected, and no one knew how to help. Treatment varied from stimulation of the senses to isolation and even tooth extraction. Woolf experienced tooth extraction and a “rest cure.” When her mother died, Woolf, who was thirteen at the time, fell into a period of madness where she also heard birds sing in ancient Greek. When Septimus does speak to Lucrezia, it is in bursts of mostly nonsense. Leonard Woolf described one of Virginia’s episodes: “She talked almost without stopping for two or three days, paying no attention to anyone in the room or anything said to her. For about a day what she said was coherent; the sentences meant something though it was nearly all insane. Then gradually it became completely incoherent, a mere jumble of dissociated words.” (Beginning Again 172-173) Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa, is the title character and the story is about her party. How does Septimus fit into the Mrs. Dalloway story? The two characters never meet although Septimus’ death is mentioned at Clarissa’s party. He is someone not in Clarissa’s circle, yet he takes up a large number of pages in her story. Woolf, in her 1929 introduction to the book states she, created the Septimus character as a twin to Clarissa. She describes both characters as having a birdish looks, a hooked nose, pale complexion, and a love for Shakespeare. This description also fits Woolf herself. Although Clarissa seems to have everything, she does feel a loss of self. She is no longer Clarissa but now Mrs. Richard Dalloway. Her life seems to be defined by her husband. Septimus is also no longer Septimus.  The war defined his life. Septimus should be entering the prime of his life. Instead, he is numb and distant. Clarissa sees her life slipping away. She rethinks her past and her old boyfriend. She remembers a kiss from Sally Seton. She has constructed a fortress around herself to protect her mental well being where Septimus’ fortress has crumbled and fell with the death of his friend and officer, Evans. Clarissa, like Septimus, has lost her youth -- his to war and hers to time. Both come to recognize that their lives are shallow or empty. Woolf draws from her life in this book. She drowned herself as her exit from the madness she knew she would never escape. In many of her books water plays a role and also forms the part of the title of three books. Water offered her a solution and water brings realization to Septimus on what he must do. Woolf fills this realization with watery imagery: Septimus Warren Smith lying on the sofa in the sitting-room; watching the watery gold glow and fade with the astonishing sensibility of some live creature on the roses, on the wall-paper. Outside the trees dragged their leaves like nets through the depths of the air; the sound of water was in the room and through the waves came the voices of birds singing. Every power poured its treasures on his head, and his hand lay there on the back of the sofa, as he had seen his hand lie when he was bathing, floating, on the top of the waves, while far away on shore he heard dogs barking and barking far away. Fear no more, says the heart in the body; fear no more. (Mrs. Dalloway, 139) Septimus knows that he will kill himself and he is no longer afraid of death. He will receive his closure, and for a short time, Lucrezia sees a happier Septimus. He found the way out of his “funk,” and before he was taken away for his rest cure, he chose his exit. Septimus finds the courage to act and is ironically called a coward by Dr. Holmes who witnesses the aftermath. The phrase “Fear no more” is used eight times between Clarissa and Septimus. Clarissa first hears of Septimus at her party. The news of his suicide is making its round through her party and affects her: Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate; people feeling the impossibility of reaching the center which, mystically, evaded them; closeness drew apart; rapture faded, one was alone. There was an embrace in death. But this young man who had killed himself — had he plunged holding his treasure? “If it were now to die, ’twere now to be most happy,” she had said to herself once, coming down in white. (Mrs. Dalloway, 184) Woolf writes about mental illness and society in a way that presents the issue without making it the apparent theme. Septimus was a conspicuous example of a mental health problem although he did not fit into the circle of elites. The length and scale of the war made the issue too significant to hide. Woolf uses this recognition to show that it is a problem throughout society. Clarissa Dalloway had the resources to hide her problems from view. She and Septimus are doubles and perhaps even copies of Woolf. One would probably have been a bit more shocked if Clarissa took her own life as Woolf originally planned to write. One would not expect that. However, the same can be said about many suicides. Some people build better fortresses than others but it does not mean they suffer less; the effects are just less visible. Although Mrs. Dalloway seems to be a simple story of the modernist period, one that even the basis of a Hollywood movie, the story is involved, and the characters provide a detailed study of the period. Characters like Elizabeth Dalloway, Doris Kilman, Peter Walsh and Sally Seton present additional in-depth portraits of the period and people. What is a simple story of planning for a party develops into a statement on the state of society deeper than most novels of the time. Mrs. Dalloway is perhaps the easiest of Woolf’s books to read and the one that offers more insight on each examination. 
 Joseph Spuckler holds a Master of Arts degree in International Relations and a Bachelor of Science degree in History. His interests center mostly around World War I and modernist writers, notably Virginia Woolf. ————————————————————————————————— A dinner party in the works; flashbacks to the past; people from the past returning to the present; a soldier who finds society evil; and the decline of an empire all combined into a wonderful and image filled novel with several themes including some thoughts on a relationship (which may have been a direct reflection on the author). The book tackles several temporary controversies and most characters represent a particular issue. Update from 8/25/2014 I really enjoy Virginia Woolf's writing and am just going to stick to a few points with this years reading. First there is poetry in her prose. Although Woolf believed prose was her calling but her words tell a different story: "But there could be no doubt that greatness was seated within; greatness was passing, hidden, down Bond Street, removed only by a hand's-breadth from ordinary people who might now, for the first and last time, be within speaking distance of the majesty of England, of the enduring symbol of the state which will be known to curious antiquaries, sifting the ruins of time, when London is a grass-grown path and all those hurrying along the pavement this Wednesday morning are but bones with a few wedding rings mixed up in their dust and the gold stoppings of innumerable decayed teeth." That is from the scene when near the opening when Mrs Dalloway goes into town for flowers for her party. There is a black car with curtains drawn in the passenger compartment. It causes quite a stir among the people. Who could it be in the car, the queen, the Prince of Wales, the prime minister. The scene is interesting because people clamor about and wonder and hope that it is someone of importance, so that the common person would be with in a hands breadth of greatness. There seems to be almost a circus effect for the people on the street. There almost seems to a bit of mockery in the writing concerning those whose greatness comes from birth. There is a serious message on post traumatic stress disorder in the character of Septimus. He is a veteran tortured by the war. He lost a friend before the Armistice. Among the very sad aspects of WWI was the rush for commanders to make a name for themselves. With the date and the time of the armistice made official many allied commanders used that last bit of time to risk their troops in land grabs, even though the war for all practical means was over. The eleven hours of November 11, was a needlessly bloody event. Britain honored its dead, but really had no idea what to do with the mentally damaged men when they returned home. Locking them up and isolating them in quiet was the treatment. It was not a cure, but it kept them out of public sight. Woolf again is not afraid to take on social issues. She does this with the main character Mrs Dalloway too. Atheism is brought up: “To see your own sister killed by a falling tree (all Justin Parry's fault--all his carelessness) before your very eyes, a girl too on the verge of life, the most gifted of them, Clarissa always said, was enough to turn one bitter. Later she wasn't so positive perhaps; she thought there were no Gods; no one was to blame; and so she evolved this atheist's religion of doing good for the sake of goodness” Doing good for the sake of goodness has a very positive ring to it, rather than doing good from a fear of eternal punishment. As in Day and Night when, Katerine suggests to her mother that she may just live in a cabin with Ralph instead of getting marriage. Woolf, here too, pushes social norms with Clarissa Dalloway’s love for Sally Seton. Coincidentally, too Catherine's mother makes an appearance at the Dalloway’s party, at least in name. I wrote much more than I intended. I also wanted to mention: 1. Age: Fifty is both considered old and the prime of one’s life by different characters. 2. How friends change Sally and Peter 3. Doris Kilman… I want to write more about this particular character. That will have to wait until next years re-reading of Mrs. Dalloway. 3/23/15 I really can't say enough about this book. One of my all time favorites. 5/29/16 Continuing thoughts on the novel: Septimus suffering from PTSD is in the park and hears birds speaking in Greek. This is the same thing Virginia Woolf describes in her diary during her first breakdown. Big Ben, throughout the novel, not only tells the reader the time but separates the scenes. I have heard it compared to the choruses in Greek plays.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Virginia Woolf made me feel like a drunken gardener, a diver on the verge of the bends, a foot stamping child, a foal tripping over its own legs trying desperately to get to its mother. And you know, I really don’t like feeling like any of these things. What is worse, she set up a buffet of champagne, mimosas, fruit and jam, white table cloths fluttering on a patio in the sunshine and light breezes, let me settle myself down to watch a perfectly civilized game of tennis between old pals from Eto Virginia Woolf made me feel like a drunken gardener, a diver on the verge of the bends, a foot stamping child, a foal tripping over its own legs trying desperately to get to its mother. And you know, I really don’t like feeling like any of these things. What is worse, she set up a buffet of champagne, mimosas, fruit and jam, white table cloths fluttering on a patio in the sunshine and light breezes, let me settle myself down to watch a perfectly civilized game of tennis between old pals from Eton, and then walked up and punched every last one of those versions of me right in the face. She then had the utter nerve to sit herself down right next to me (us?) and proceed, in the manner of one who can say “my dear,” all the way down your spine, to tell me all the layers and shelves and depths of everything that I am about in a language that she knew I could only half understand with how fast she was speaking it. Moreover, she was talking in a personalized dialect that she just knew I would love and that I would hate to be left out of. On.. and on.. and on, talking to everyone I love and respect as they walk on by, smiling in perfect accord with them as they waved back and responded to her in the same language that she kept me prisoner listening to. A great chunk of this book was like (to go with my resentful gardener) seeing a light under the ground of a frozen over garden, faintly, but unmistakably there, and spending all day hacking at that damn spot, needing to see what’s under it, trying with spades, hoes, kitchen knives, fucking machetes if I have to... and the ground just staring right back as solid as ever while I swore at it and called its mother names. It seemed as though I merely glazed over the spot rather than dug into it. I felt some warmth from the light, but never anything I could really keep ahold of. Nothing seemed to work. Then, suddenly (to shift to my impatient child), little lights started to appear through the cracks, in short, isolated bursts, in a language that I could fully understand, relate to, delight in, without any translation and right away. Just little things: like how the housewife Clarissa Dalloway describes a man as being “perfectly upholstered,” when she approves of his looks, the way anyone around you becomes “people,” when you’re not at home with your own situation, and Peter Walsh’s changing and intimate relations with the tolling of a clock that suit his own wandering, uncertain mind. I finished the book once, getting no farther than this. I felt curiously exhausted, bewildered, overwhelmed, like (to shift to my diver) it was my first dive and I’d come up too fast, on the verge of giving myself the bends in my need to reach the surface, to be done with the dive, to say I’d completed it. I put it down for days, trying to figure out what I thought of it, coming up with only confusion. I didn’t know what to say about it- I wasn’t sure I had anything to say except things about ribbons and lace, flowers in bowls, birds of paradise clustering in the windows. Stupid things, surface things- a picture of England after the Great War, an upper crust lady and a solider with PTSD before they knew about PTSD, the character of the English, the effect of Empire, lesbian overtones, the overbearing presence of the past: The Way We Were. And yet, I really thought there was something else there. I kept reading those sentences over and over again because of something.. more. So I decided to start over again, and see what I could see. I read more slowly, tried to take pressure off of myself… and this time around, the cracks opened far wider. I felt like I could take a wobbling step without laughing at myself and I was able to see this: ”Take me with you, Clarissa thought impulsively, as if he were starting upon some great voyage; and then, next moment, it was as if the five acts of a play that had been very exciting and moving were now over and she had lived a lifetime in them and had run away, had lived with Peter, and now it was over. Now it was time to move, and as a woman gathers her things together, her cloak, her gloves, her opera-glasses, and gets up to go out of the theatre into the street, she rose from the sofa and went to Peter.” And, gloriously, this: “One might fancy that day, the London day, was just beginning. Like a woman who had slipped off her print dress and white apron to array herself in blue and pearls, the day changed, put off stuff, took gauze, changed to evening, and with the same sigh of exhilaration that a woman breathes, tumbling petticoats to the floor, it too shed dust, heat, colour; the traffic thinned; motor cars, tinkling, darting, succeeded the lumber of vans; and here and there along the thick foliage of the squares an intense light hung. I resign, the evening seemed to say, as it paled and faded above the battlements and prominences, moulded, pointed, of hotel, flat and block of shops, I fade, she was beginning, I disappear, but London would have none of it…” … more and more passages started to stick out for me, to give me the gifts they were meant to the first time around. Virginia talked to me in the kindest way possible now, finally, about the way the world could be experienced, if you only looked hard enough. She showed me what it was all about, making every part of life special again. She told me things about what it was to continue to live and live all those years, and the marks that it leaves on your soul- the space that it takes up in your brain- and how could it not? I saw these people living in the present, past, future all at once, trying to take it all in with all of that in mind and still to make it down the street without stopping dead. (“Nonsense, nonsense, she cried to herself!”) I just loved her depiction of the interruptions of life- the curbs, the traffic, the needs in a shop, the entrances, the too soon exits, the car backfiring, and of course, those splendid, gloriously depicted clocks that won’t leave you alone in London. I’ve always loved parentheses- I’ve always been a person who couldn’t get by without them (declarative sentences never say it all, do they?), and Virginia understands me, she knows how that is- sometimes the parenthetical is the most important. Virginia understands. She always knows how it is, she knows it for every possible person that you are or could want to know, and she’ll tell you, even if maybe at first the way she expresses it makes it seem like something you can't understand. For instance, poor Septimus. I found his sections too flowery, too clichéd and lofty the first time around- his phrases about beauty shut down my ability to receive it. I just couldn’t get past it then. Then I tried again, and Septimus became anything but frou-frou- the tragedy of his perception of the world, the depth of his feeling felt like it was choking me to death. Virginia wasn’t trying to insult me- she was trying to show me what I was missing. She got under my skin, did Virginia. I decided that I was willing to make a fool of myself again to try to get something out of it- and I am incandescently happy that I did. It was 200 pages of her telling me “Only connect,” over and over again. She showed me once again how beautiful the idea of the tapestry of life really is- how we’re all interconnected, the idea that something of ourselves reverberates on forever. I saw the Fates spinning, sewing, snipping- sometimes using the same piece of string to form, to inexorably connect the unlikeliest of people. We should never try to tear out the threads the Fates give us. The people who do will only end up creating a bloody battle out of what should have been a party scene to be hung in the drawing room. Clarissa Dalloway is an unlikely heroine, but thus she is nonetheless. She is shallow, uneducated, vain, even “cold” as many of her detractors claim. And yet, she goes down to the underworld every other moment and manages to surface and visit her mother with a smile upon her face, not caring to trouble her in her old age with her silly worries and sorrows. She said “no,” once to life, all those years ago- and it is all she thinks about. She lives her life running in the other direction, within the bounds that she can, if only people could see it. I loved her fiery loathing of what she believed Miss Kilman represented, her ultimate rejection (if understanding) of Septimus’ chosen ending, the ‘offerings’ of her parties. She is Molly Bloom writ in everyday language: Yes I will yes…. I finished the book again in utter awe with her. Perhaps it is that I am towards the beginning of my own life, and I see Clarissa as having passed over a stretch of land that is still an unknown country to me- a country I still believe I haven’t the map to. This book might be streamofconsciousness but don’t be fooled into falling in and trying to swim the river forever. I felt like I was drowning, numb, deprived of depth perception after attempting to swallow this whole that first time. This is a book best taken in small samples when you feel you're truly ready for more- pieces that won't fill you up too much to appreciate just what it is that you’re tasting. Trust me. Virginia will take care of you. Just let the woman speak.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Firdevs

    Bilinç akışı tekniğiyle yazılmış, girift hislerle dolu. " Mrs. Dalloway çiçeklerini kendisinin alacağını söyledi." Cümlesiyle başlayan harika bir roman.

  21. 3 out of 5

    Fabian

    I read Mrs. Dalloway sometime between "The Hours" film was released and college (2002-2003), knowing pretty well what it aimed at--to chronicle life as it is lived, with plenty of characters to populate the sphere that’s immediately around the titular protagonist, the hopeless hostess of parties; all their thoughts at once made clear and later muddled with the novel’s own moving train of consciousness. This time around I found that the most difficult portion of Mrs. Dalloway is its middle sectio I read Mrs. Dalloway sometime between "The Hours" film was released and college (2002-2003), knowing pretty well what it aimed at--to chronicle life as it is lived, with plenty of characters to populate the sphere that’s immediately around the titular protagonist, the hopeless hostess of parties; all their thoughts at once made clear and later muddled with the novel’s own moving train of consciousness. This time around I found that the most difficult portion of Mrs. Dalloway is its middle section, after the Warren Smiths meet with the physician & Lady Bruton is introduced, & then there is this cavalcade of characters along with all of their inner musings. Sometimes Virginia Woolf uses “he” & “she,” & one knows not who on the stage she is precisely referring to. (It could be said that the emotion within each individual defies exactly who that character is. It is the emotion that’s important--the melancholic mood which at times may strike us all.) The all-knowing narrator in Mrs. Dalloway is like the great revolving eye which transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau often mention. It knows all, but it also rides the collective wave of thought and feeling itself (in Woolf that feeling often deals with growing older, dying). Difficult to put into words, it is clear what it was that (the overrated) IAN MCEWAN tried (and failed) to emulate: Woolf’s sense of impending devastation (In Saturday, another day-long narrative, an Englishman is surprised to see a fallen aeroplane alight in the morning sky… just as the denizens of England receive a fiery emblem: that of the Royal figure inside the coach in the streets of London) and in that grand English tradition: the utmost repression of the individual’s wants (in On Chesil Beach Mc Ewan’s thesis is not unlike the following: “Not for years have they spoken of it; which, he thought… is the greatest mistake in the world. The time comes when it can’t be said; one’s too shy to say it... ‘I love you.’”). Confusing--it is meant to be like a wave washing over you as you stand alone; a delicate little flower before the awesome tide.

  22. 3 out of 5

    Traveller

    I apologize for writing so much; but there was just so much to write about... On the surface, this appears to be a boring little account of a boring woman getting ready for throwing a boring snobbish party at the end of the depicted day, with various interludes and people wandering around London during the course of the day, thinking all sorts of freeflowing thoughts and having flashbacks to their pasts. ...but every time you examine this novel to try and critique it, something new about the nove I apologize for writing so much; but there was just so much to write about... On the surface, this appears to be a boring little account of a boring woman getting ready for throwing a boring snobbish party at the end of the depicted day, with various interludes and people wandering around London during the course of the day, thinking all sorts of freeflowing thoughts and having flashbacks to their pasts. ...but every time you examine this novel to try and critique it, something new about the novel strikes you, until you are at a loss as to what to take and what to leave out... I was about to finally embark on a completely new review of it, but just before I started writing down my impressions of this work as a cleverly crafted architectural construction made up of words, themes and concepts, it suddenly struck me out of the blue that Mrs Dalloway appears to be a parody of James Joyce’s Ulysses; and the more I thought about it, the clearer the picture became in my mind. Consider this: Both novels experiment in very similar ways with structure and style. They are both diurnal novels (they take place in the space of one day), and while Joyce makes it very clear that he is parodying the Homeric Epic, condensing the form to take place in a single day, one can say the same of Mrs Dalloway, except that it is much more subtly done in the latter, and also can be more likened to an elegy than an epic, since Mrs Dalloway jumps around chronologically (almost more like a postmodern novel than one from the Modernist genre from which it derives) and is more lyrical in tone. In both works there are two main characters although we share the consciousness and thoughts of many characters. While both novels dispense with the authority of a central narrative voice, there is a small structural difference between the two here. While the reader jumps from one character to the next in Joyce’s Ulysses, the reader is led out on a certain traceable path in Mrs Dalloway, and change of focus to the consciousness of the next character happens only when they are within physical distance of one another. So, in Mrs Dalloway, it is almost as if we were an invisible psychic voyeur, travelling from one mind to another, and being carried from one location to another by the people whose thoughts we are privy to. Both novels are physically grounded in one city, Ulysses in Dublin, Mrs D in London, but contain many allusions to other times and locations. In Mrs Dalloway, though, the time is marked on the hour--either by the chiming of Big Ben, or by a character noting the time on a clock, so if anything, Woolf is adding to Joyce’s structure. Both are intertextual and allude to other works of literature. Another slight difference is that although Mrs Dalloway (the novel) certainly makes a lot of literary allusions, especially to Shakespeare, you can read it in a sitting and still get a lot out of it with just a fairly rudimentary knowledge of literature and the classics, unlike the daunting Ulysses (and may I say it, much of the work of TS Eliot, whom Woolf admired). In Mrs Dalloway, the literary references are just the topping on the cake, not the cake itself. The text doesn't depend on you knowing history, or having read anything else at all, because there are so many themes and bits of story woven through it--there is at least something for almost everyone to find in it, depending on your particular proclivities or tastes. I shall have to investigate further on this Mrs Dalloway vs Ulysses idea, since I do know that Woolf was busy writing this as Joyce’s Ullysses was published; and there definitely was no collaboration between the two on the writing of their novels. No wait... social commentary first, frills later. I’ll come back to my Woolf/Joyce obsession later. The most important thing in my opinion about this novel is the social commentary. There is so much of it here--this entire novel is a satire, and Mrs Dalloway herself, the uppish, dull snob, is a figure of satire, the object of Woolf’s subtle scorn; part of the fine irony being that Mrs Dalloway is not a stranger to meting out scorn herself. Three of the more ‘personal’ commentaries that stood out for me, were the commentaries on Britishness and the class structures of its society, but even more importantly the feminist and sexual orientation/sexuality/marriage themes and the commentary on psychiatric treatment. The feminism theme is intermixed with a homosexuality theme, but there is more focus on the lesbian aspect of the homosexuality theme. Woolf depicts women and their own passions and needs and potential homo-erotic desires as being of necessity repressed due to the strictures placed upon society by its patriarchal focus. Woolf subtly subverts; how slyly she inserts her secret messages. Sally Seton, Mrs Dalloway’s best friend in their youth, before they submitted to marriage, excited passion in her, made her flower and burn, but now that Mrs Clarissa Dalloway is married, her passions are dead, cold, and she seems to feel mainly duty in respect of her marriage. She had failed her husband by not feeling enough passion for him, and is therefore delegated to her narrow virginal bed in the attic. One notices that Clarissa never expresses outright passion for any particular man. Never does Clarissa express the same passion for a man as she does for Sally Seton. ...and now her fire is spent. Clarissa's take on marriage is very interesting indeed: For in marriage a little licence, a little independence there must be between people living together day in day out in the same house; which Richard gave her, and she him. ... But with Peter everything had to be shared; everything gone into. And it was intolerable, and when it came to that scene in the little garden by the fountain, she had to break with him or they would have been destroyed, both of them ruined, she was convinced... Intolerable? ...both of them ruined? Is Peter too demanding for her? -and too flighty, perhaps? Should a marriage be a staid, stable institution where each person has enough space to be themselves? ..and yet, what does Clarissa really have to show for her life? I'll have to re-read this novel. (I still wanted to, in any case, in order to suss out the bit where a beggar woman sings an ancient song--those passages felt like poetry to me, and I think that Woolf wanted to say something in them about the passage of time, of archetypes and permanence in spite of flux?) ...but getting back to the social commentary--with the exception that she seems to have felt stronger passion for a woman than for a man, Clarissa Dalloway seems to be the perfect woman according to the mores of the early twentieth century. She has no ‘masculine’ interests, and her sole accomplishment in life appears to be that she is a good hostess. Sally Seton, on the other hand, appears to be a rebel. Not only did she , in her youth, act in ways that are frowned upon by society, but especially frowned upon for women. For instance, she discusses uncomfortable social issues with Clarissa and reads and discusses the works of Plato and William Morris, a libertarian socialist, and together they aspire to change the world. ..and yet, later on we learn that Sally has also dutifully settled down to become a wife and mother. Sally is a smart woman, and she knows what her options are. Not many. One has to ask yourself, given the memories Clarissa had of how rebellious and passionate she and Sally were when they were young and unmarried, is Woolf not telling us that females have to kill their inner passions to fit in with society--with male, patriarchal expectations of what they should be and how they should behave? This seems to be the implication in the passage: Then, for that moment, she had seen an illumination; a match burning in a crocus; an inner meaning almost expressed. But the close withdrew; the hard softened. It was over--the moment. The novel was published in 1925. Although first-wave feminist groups had already gained wide support towards the end of the nineteenth century in countries like the US and France, beyond small protests and smaller, less formal groups and individuals speaking out for female suffrage, organized feminist groups hadn’t gone mainstream in Britain by the time that Woolf was born, and she herself had to taste the bitter pill of educational discrimination, not to mention sexual prejudice in the psychiatric treatment meted out to her. Gay rights weren’t established either, so writers still had to be careful how they voiced both their views on homosexuality and on women’s rights. Woolf slips in a lot of subtle sarcasm, though, disguised just enough to keep her out of hot water. Nowhere is the sarcasm of Woolf, a writer herself, more obvious than in the following passages: But she [Lady Bruton] had to write. ... After a morning's battle beginning, tearing up, beginning again, she used to feel the futility of her own womanhood as she felt it on no other occasion, and would turn gratefully to the thought of Hugh Whitbread who possessed—no one could doubt it—the art of writing letters to the Times. A being so differently constituted from herself, with such a command of language; able to put things as editors like them put; .... Lady Bruton often suspended judgement upon men in deference to the mysterious accord in which they, but no woman, stood to the laws of the universe; knew how to put things; knew what was said; so that if Richard advised her, and Hugh wrote for her, she was sure of being somehow right. ...in other words, a woman’s place in the universe, is where the men place her. Women are even too dumb to write their own letters, it's only when a man writes them for her, that they are "right". With the character of Mr Dalloway, who is simply a good hostess and nothing else, Woolf seems to be saying: this is the value that society places on a well-bred woman: to be merely ornamental, to be an instrument toward her husband’s wellbeing and never to live for herself. Also, I think that Clarissa's parties, the parties where people just show up just to be seen, in which having the Prime Minister show up is a feather in your cap, is a device that Woolf uses to show up the vacuousness of the life of the middle-aged 'successful' upper middle-class woman, and this is definitely one of the commentaries on the class system in the novel. The novel ends with Clarissa’s extraordinary nondescript mediocrity: even a man in love with her can find nothing more remarkable about her than simply her presence, the fact that she exists. All he can remark about her, is: “There she was.” There are hints at socialist leanings peeping at us from various places in the novel, and we especially see the sting of being excluded from the prerogatives of the upper classes in the bitterness expressed by the Dalloway daughter's tutor, Mrs Kilman. Regarding Woolf’s scorn for the psychiatrist in the novel, and the disastrous consequences of his proposed ‘treatment’--since Virginia herself suffered at the hands of early twentieth century “psychiatry”, a prescription of no activity along with being force-fed, she has some first-hand experience at the hand of the kind of quackery she describes in the novel. Unfortunately, discussing Woolf’s commentary in this regard (the trials and treatment of Septimus Smith, Clarissa’s structural antagonist in the novel) might be giving away spoilers, so I’ll desist in favor of getting on to another hobby horse of mine, Woolf’s recurring structural and metaphorical themes. Probably the things I love most about Woolf’s art, is her exquisite imagery and her use of metaphor. Here is one right at the start : “ what a morning—fresh as if issued to children on a beach.” Isn’t that a truly fresh metaphor, in more ways than one? How about this clever play of light and darkness to announce exactly that-- a theme of intermittent light and darkness, joy and pain, life and death: Signs were interchanged, when, as if to fulfil some scheme arranged already..., now they struck light to the earth, now darkness. Calmly and competently, Elizabeth Dalloway mounted the Westminster omnibus. Going and coming, beckoning, signalling, so the light and shadow which now made the wall grey, now the bananas bright yellow, now made the Strand grey, now made the omnibuses bright yellow, seemed to Septimus Warren Smith lying on the sofa in the sitting-room; watching the watery gold glow and fade... Here psychologically speaking Elizabeth is in light, and Septimus is in darkness. Ain’t that neat?..and that is how it goes in the entire novel. Every single thing that every character hears or sees, or what happens in the physical reality in the novel, can be seen as a metaphorical background for what is conceptually happening. In that sense it is very artificial, but aren’t all works of fiction artificial structures? Mrs Dalloway is a highly stylized work of art, its form and imagery constructed with mathematical precision, and yet part of its charm is that it is also subtly enough rendered with tasteful brush strokes in pleasing but subdued colors, that one doesn’t notice its artifice immediately. I have discovered that in general, Woolfe’s works tend to be structured like music that has certain leitmotifs echoing through the work in a recurring pattern. People familiar with the structure of musical compositions will know what I mean here—remember that analysis of “Peter and The Wolf “ by Prokofiev that you once did at school all those years ago? Those ‘themes’ that are declared when each character is about to enter the scene? Woolf does a similar thing with symbols like birds and flowers in her texts. And the novels often start off with symbols that she is going to be weaving through the work. In The Waves, for instance, it is water (and a wave movement/pattern) that she uses in this way, and The Waves starts off with a description of water (the sea) and of intermittent patterns (waves). This way, the reader is alerted to look out for the recurrence of the theme throughout the novel. Flowers is one of the themes in Mrs Dalloway, and mention of them echo intermittently throughout the novel. Some people make a game of flower and bird-spotting in Woolf’s novels. Personally, I’d love to know how many times larks are to be found on her pages. Another little game I'd like to try out, is to see if there is approximately the same amount of text between the hours counted off in the novel. Sound obsessive? Yip. ..but I suspect Woolf was probably a bit of an OCD sufferer herself, -she had to get her structure just-so... ...talking of obsessions, my Joyce/ Dalloway obsession is calling to me again... One does know that Woolf was partly impressed, partly a bit condescending towards Joyce’s huge novel. Since Mrs Dalloway is all about satire, I’m conjecturing... I wouldn’t be surprised if Virginia decided to include Mr Joyce’s novel in her satirical comment about culture and society, by having her work echo aspects of it. Finally: But no, this can’t be correct, I don’t think? ... in one breath VW condemns Joyce as "boring and vulgar" and yet, she admires his experimentation with style and form, commenting that Joyce is “attempting to do away with the machinery”. The "Mrs Dalloway vs Ulysses" mystery, has started taking on the dimensions of a faint (or not so faint) obsession with me. As I’ve started digging for more on the subject, I found that other people had come to the same realization as myself, and some are defending Woolf and others are more accusatory--no accusations are ever openly made (or perhaps I didn't search thoroughly enough: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... ); most of them are veiled...and this is because if anybody was not telling, it was Virginia herself. Virginia is more often than not, dismissive of Joyce in her letters and diaries, and yet some admiration for him shines through in unguarded moments. I am reminded of Henry James’ attitude toward Poe—overtly scornful of his childhood literary hero, and yet, there are influences to be seen in the works... Was Woolf indulging in a bit of literary one-upmanship here? "I can do it more elegantly and soooooo much shorter than you can...?" :D I guess we’ll never know. Be that as it may, this novel shines on its own little pedestal as an artist’s delicate tapestry of satire, social commentary, structure and metaphor. ee um fah um so foo swee too eem oo

  23. 3 out of 5

    Matthew

    A few introductory comments on my rating and review: My rating is reflective of my experience with this book and not the actual impact this book has had on literature and other people over the years. Sometimes when I read a book I don’t like, I cannot understand why others like it either. That is not the case here – it is very easy for me to tell why others would like this book and I think it was very interesting at its core; it is just the delivery that did not work for me. I hesitate to actually A few introductory comments on my rating and review: My rating is reflective of my experience with this book and not the actual impact this book has had on literature and other people over the years. Sometimes when I read a book I don’t like, I cannot understand why others like it either. That is not the case here – it is very easy for me to tell why others would like this book and I think it was very interesting at its core; it is just the delivery that did not work for me. I hesitate to actually say that I read this. I really only grasped about 15% of what was going on during the book as the randomness of the events in the plot had me confused and I kept daydreaming in the middle of it. It is only through internet searches after I was done that I was able to pull all the events together coherently. Now, on to the review: I think the story was very interesting. Also, from what I have read about Virginia Woolf, it is very reflective of her life experiences. But, I went low with my star rating because the stream of consciousness delivery had me lost and disinterested most of the time. As mentioned above – if it wasn’t for Google, I may not have fully understood what transpired. I did this as audio and I am glad I did because I am not sure I could have stuck with it if I was reading it. As a famous classic on many must read lists, I get it. But, it is one of those that I think not a lot of people are going to get into. So, be warned before you go out to choose a classic and hope that Mrs. Dalloway is the one for you: a great story but rambling, stream of consciousness delivery has to be something you don’t mind.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Of Life and Death, Verbs and Nouns I expected this novel to be difficult. However, it wasn't difficult at all. It was an enormous pleasure. I was struck by the preponderance of verbs . The novel might happen in the head of Clarissa Dalloway or the other characters, but they are observing activity and their thoughts reflect it. It is more dynamic than passive or self-conscious or self-reflective. It was less a stream of consciousness, than a consciousness of life as a stream or a number of streams, Of Life and Death, Verbs and Nouns I expected this novel to be difficult. However, it wasn't difficult at all. It was an enormous pleasure. I was struck by the preponderance of verbs . The novel might happen in the head of Clarissa Dalloway or the other characters, but they are observing activity and their thoughts reflect it. It is more dynamic than passive or self-conscious or self-reflective. It was less a stream of consciousness, than a consciousness of life as a stream or a number of streams, rolling and tumbling and flowing in the direction of some great expanse, the ocean, an ocean of possibilities, perhaps even a party. The word "life" is a noun, but in my opinion, the Life we live is a bundle of verbs. Life is the vitality and vibrancy of the verbs we inject into it. Life is what you "do" during the course of your time on earth. All the large and little things you do. Life is Eros, a life force, which can be juxtaposed in Freudian terms with Death (the absence of life) or Thanatos. Perhaps Clarissa Dalloway represents the vitality of Eros, while her "double", Septimus, represents Thanatos. Whatever, the two coexist in the novel and in each of us. How our lives turn out depends on how we accommodate their coexistence. We can let them fight or allow them to dance. "A Dance to the Music of Time" Ultimately, Virginia Woolf's novel felt to me like a dance, a progressive waltz, perhaps between Life and Death, Eros and Thanatos. It seemed to be even more worthy of the description "A Dance to the Music of Time" than Anthony Powell's work. Here is a description of the Poussin painting of that name from the first novel in the sequence, "A Question of Upbringing", part of which could apply to "Mrs Dalloway": "These classical projections, and something from the fire, suddenly suggested Poussin's scene in which the Seasons, hand in hand and facing outward, tread in rhythm to the notes of the lyre that the winged and naked greybeard plays. "The image of Time brought thoughts of mortality: of human beings, facing outward like the Seasons, moving hand in hand in intricate measure, stepping slowly, methodically sometimes a trifle awkwardly, in evolutions that take recognisable shape: or breaking into seemingly meaningless gyrations, while partners disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle: unable to control the melody, unable, perhaps, to control the steps of the dance." I started to gyrate as I read on, then unable to control the melody, unable to control the steps of the dance, I grew dizzy, and slowly I started to remember something that happened a long, long time ago... The Call of Duty Each long table in the dining room seated 20 people, ten aside facing each other, as you'd expect, just like the year before, only now there would be some faces gone and some new faces expected, you wouldn’t really know who until everybody had returned from the end of term vacation and taken their position, some sitting in the same place, some moving to fill the gaps, some leaving a space to be filled by someone new. There were a dozen or so at their usual table by the time Ian arrived for dinner, he looked up and down the table, until he saw six familiar faces, a hint of recognition on his face, his friends were all towards one end of the table, away from the front doors, although nobody occupied the two end seats, they had been left for latecomers. To the left of his friends, a group of first year students were sitting in the middle of the table, not yet known or identified by names, so Ian pulled out a seat at the end of the table and prepared to sit down, gently lifting his chair so as not to make a sound and disturb the conversation that was in progress, chatter, chatter, talk, talk, this is what I did on my holidays, Keith had obtained work as a legal clerk, Ginny had spent the whole time at her parents’ beach house on the South Coast, Becky had returned to Switzerland and worked in a strawberry jam factory, making tiny woodchips that were supposed to replace the seeds that dissolved in the acidic process of making the jam. An olive, almost dark, complexioned woman walked up and asked if she could sit on the chair opposite Ian, he nodded yes, not knowing who she was or whether she already knew his friends, she had not been in college last year, while everybody else reacted enthusiastically, yes, sure, of course, thanks for joining us, Judy, Becky said, have you met everybody here, this is Ian, she said, I’ve heard so much about this Ian, Judy replied with a smile, in her Eastern European accent, he couldn’t work out where it was from, though it was not as guttural as German, he stood and shook Judy’s hand, almost chivalrously, although there was no need for chivalry yet, at least, nothing to be chivalrous about, these days, apart of course from the presence of this charming woman, which was more than enough, but Ian was already smiling, he liked this new Judy. She answered Ian’s many eager questions politely, until finally he had ascertained that she was Hungarian, and that her father was the Hungarian Ambassador, from Communist Hungary, as it was then, she was moving into college for her second last year while she worked on her honours thesis in French Literature and wanted to be closer to the French Department and away from the temptations of diplomatic parties and constant socializing, as if college life would be any less demanding, even though she loved that life, she was diligent in her studies, she wanted to be a writer, a publisher or a diplomat herself, and Ian had found all of this out while he deftly worked away at his roast lamb and three vegetables, it was a Sunday night before the first day of the new term, and there was always a roast of some sort. Some of their friends finished their meals and left during the conversation, though Ian continually brought the chit chat back to Judy, as if they were the only ones present, you could tell he was infatuated already, well, Becky could, she was more alert to these things, her father was the Australian Ambassador to Switzerland, it wasn’t a big deal, Switzerland was only a small country anyway, it wasn’t even discussed amongst their friends, but they had nevertheless gravitated towards each other, informally forming a group of diplomatic children, Ian being the odd one out, the son of a banker, though his ambition was to be a diplomat, and if unsuccessful in that ambition, to at least get a few foreign affairs under his belt, he had a taste for the exotic, almost as if he was seeking a life raft upon which to escape from the routine life that awaited him in Australia in those days. Judy was the first one of the remaining group to rise from the table, but as she did so, she reached into her handbag and took out four small envelopes, they contained invitations, each of them inscribed with someone’s name in neat blue fountain pen, though not the script that was familiar to Australians at the time, even her writing was exotic, she gave three to Ian’s remaining friends, and then, looking Ian in the eyes, handed him one, too, I would be delighted if you would come to my room for drinks on Tuesday night, any time between 8 and 11, Ian looked at the envelope and saw that it already bore his name, Ian Graye, he still has that envelope somewhere, with his other love letters and curios, Judy said, I knew I would meet you sooner or later, so I took the liberty of making out an invitation for you, what if you hadn’t liked me, he asked, well, in that case, I would have wasted an envelope and some writing paper, she said, not a great loss, but I didn’t think there was much chance of that. No sooner were the envelopes circulated than Judy left to return to her room, Ian rising almost immediately afterwards, looking at his watch and saying, well, duty calls, Becky spotted the glint in his eye and laughed, you mean, Judy calls, and she laughed again, as if she had just read his fortune in a teacup. The next two days, Ian didn’t see Judy or Becky or Keith or Virginia, because other friends saw him enter the dining room and asked him to join them, each time introducing him to first year students that they had just met, so Tuesday night came around quickly, although first he had to have some drinks in the Union Bar with some other students from his Political Science class, he had intended to finish up around 10pm and return to college for the last hour of the party, but it was 10:30 when he looked at his watch and realised he was going to be late, it was totally dark when he got outside, there was no moon and the stars were obscured by clouds, he walked quickly, anxiously, embarrassed, the crushed granite surface of the footpath crunching underfoot, his heart started to beat faster and a droplet of sweat formed on his temple, he was almost out of breath by the time he arrived at Judy’s door, giving the impression that he had hurried to be there, even though he was close to three hours late and had nearly, rudely, missed the party altogether, still as Judy was farewelling some of her other guests, she greeted Ian with a kiss on either cheek in the European fashion, and he wished that it had been his lips, I didn’t think you were going to attend my party, she said, half reproachful, half delighted that he had actually turned up, he said, there was no way I would have missed it, I’m sorry that another duty called, she poured him a glass of Bulls Blood, Egri Bikaver, and sat him on the chair next to her writing desk, by this time they were the only ones left in the room, and she sat on her bed, from this time on, she said, I expect to be your first duty, Ian placed his glass on the desk, having had only one sip, not that it was his first and only drink of the night, and he went and sat on the bed next to her and, perhaps too boldly, he passed his right hand under her black bob, and then their lips touched, for the first, but not the last, time. A moment later, she pulled back, not by way of rebuff, by any means, and commanded him gently, but still firmly, tell me, what is the name of your most important duty now? It is Judy, he said. And there she was. SOUNDTRACK: Jimmy Smith - "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG0r80... Herbie Hancock - "Watermelon Man" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4ASTM... Bill Lee [Composer] - "Mo' Better Blues" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJTKCm... That's Denzel Washington lip-synching the trumpet in the Spike Lee film of the same name. The band comprises trumpeter Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis on tenor and soprano, pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. Di Ienno, Di Bella, Mori Trio - "Mo' Better Blues" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ahH2I...

  25. 3 out of 5

    Aubrey

    Finding an author who tilts and swerves and stares into the light as you do is a difficult matter. Half of it is politics, for what we are not on the power scheme of things is all the easier to ignore, and half of it is heart, the blood by which we scheme and thrive and fall. Some authors crop up in classrooms in accordance to popular decree and dance along the usual line of theory and of form. Others, not only one and the same but first, have by happenstance of coin and sex and homicide have no Finding an author who tilts and swerves and stares into the light as you do is a difficult matter. Half of it is politics, for what we are not on the power scheme of things is all the easier to ignore, and half of it is heart, the blood by which we scheme and thrive and fall. Some authors crop up in classrooms in accordance to popular decree and dance along the usual line of theory and of form. Others, not only one and the same but first, have by happenstance of coin and sex and homicide have not yet existed to the brink of the canon. One thing for certain: I hate my favorites as much as I adore, for the static text that cannot keep pace with continual growth is not worth so much in the long run. From a limited perspective one partakes of others, of nation, of a youth that grew roots that may or may not hold true for the aged. Between then and now are the machines both metal and otherwise, a ubiquity these days that was still in the initial stages of death throes back then, before drones and lasers and nuclear fission. Much has changed in the ways of colonialism and of power. Much has not in the whys of poverty and of gender. Some say increase in population, some say a decrease in exile, and those who are the subject ride. For the latter who incline towards the literary, here is a work that acknowledges, much as My Brilliant Friend uncloaks the reality of menstruation and toxic masculinity, the sixth sense of the end of number of us own and are owned by. A single day, a set of selves, a sense of connection, or one of not. This being my second reading of the text and near double digit such of Woolf, much of the mysticism is accustomed to, and what I once filled with bowled over conjecture I can now categorize in shelves of war, economy, fear of the chaotic void in all its evolved and banal forms. For those of you first encountering this work and mayhaps this author, welcome, and have hope. Popular consent may deem this one of Woolf's most accessible, but this should be viewed as a guide of transition, not a level in amber trapped. Having read this twice in the last three years, I am ready to take on again The Waves, To the Lighthouse, much I have not yet encountered and many that need renewed reveling still. We are on different paths of Woolf, you and I, and some are pulled far more by death than a party. A communication rather than a destination, then. The means by which we live. --- 10/4/13 ReviewThere was no one in him; behind his face...and his words, which were copious, fantastic and stormy, there was only a bit of coldness, a dream dreamt by no one. [...] The fundamental identity of existing, dreaming and acting inspired famous passages of his. -Jorge Luis Borges, 'Everything and Nothing', LabyrinthsLet us speak of art and time and intimate at fame. Men write it, women live it, as some would still believe, passing by the book and poem and burst of song of female form and male construction, but that, of course, is history. And the times, they are a-changin'. Faster still but fast enough? For, simply turn to vaulted classics in hallowed halls, and walls, veritable walls, all of art. Further still, all of the anachronistic West, all of the shadowed Europe, all of English, least, as the educators here in the colonies would have you believe. A funny way of putting a country, a forceful recollection of all that enslaving genocide done in the name of deity and cheap labor. But enough. We are not here to judge, or rather, naught but a little. For here is London of England of 1922, and all that merits some amount of criticism if you wish to prove yourself in the know. Of? The reality, the art, the cage of intersections between golden time and pearls of soul. Take your pick, but mind the context, for there never is just that. Woolf gave us as much of a glimpse as she possibly could, poor soul, and if in the midst of her living prose she wrote what she knew, what then? There is aspiration, and then there is situation, and if you don't mind blaming the bloom for its wilting and ignoring the lack of light, then go right ahead. Now we have come to the realm of the opinions sprouting willy-nilly from the facts, and above all the words. Always, the words. A single day, a single death, a single fête. A single flow from perch above to mind below, flitting from flutter of spirit to flicker of light, unspoken, unbroken, unthought by some not yet sure of their self or not yet caring whether they ought to be. For that you must have, however you like to dress it up, your living, your creed, your raison d'être, and here we have a bouquet flung from a single idea of Mrs. Dalloway to have a party. Easily mocked, a woman and her party. A soap opera, a passion play, here in the world of English where all bow and scrape before the Bard. Something odd in that, wouldn't you think? Almost worth an essay in itself, and yet, no. I will leave that to you, Reader, to mull over. For here we have another work drawn less from history and more from empathetic flight, the shudders of War coursing through the veins of class and character and what each has had to bear. Some men, some women, some rich, some poor, some empty, some much, much too full, and everywhere the matter of what keeps you getting up in the morning, what drives you forward in your path of the all too often straight and narrow, what keeps you from that final escape, and just what you are willing to do to defend it. Love? Marriage? A party? An idea, rather, and however long you can keep a hold of it. Call it tradition, faith, dogma if you're feeling rather prickly, but beware the scorn you spew in the wake of your own efforts to exist. Not that she was weak; but she wanted support. A man dies for a moment to be, a woman lives for the constant of being. The former, of climactic consequence; the latter, of trivial circumstance. And on and on we read our Shakespeare, and barely mind the gap.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    How to review a novel like this. I remember Evelyn Waugh’s comment about having to review/critique P G Wodehouse; “like taking a spade to a soufflé”. There has been a little debate recently about who to put on the back of the new £10 note in this country. Jane Austen seems to have won; I would have voted for Virginia Woolf! Stream of consciousness and set in a day, but definitely not Ulysses; this, for me, is one of the great novels. Not only is it beautifully written, it is beautifully construct How to review a novel like this. I remember Evelyn Waugh’s comment about having to review/critique P G Wodehouse; “like taking a spade to a soufflé”. There has been a little debate recently about who to put on the back of the new £10 note in this country. Jane Austen seems to have won; I would have voted for Virginia Woolf! Stream of consciousness and set in a day, but definitely not Ulysses; this, for me, is one of the great novels. Not only is it beautifully written, it is beautifully constructed and Woolf switches the types of narration as quickly and easily as she switches characters around twenty of them in all. Clarissa Dalloway is the main character; a woman in her early 50s who is preparing for her party in the evening and looking back to a particular time in her youth. She shares the stage with Septimus Smith a young married man who fought in the war and who is suffering from what was then called shellshock and would now be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; he is quite seriously ill and haunted by Evans, a close friend who died. There are so many strands running through this book that it’s difficult to know where to start. The relationship of the past with the present is vital; having recently read “The Go-Between” there is an interesting parallel. Hartley’s “The past is another country” is similar to Woolf’s technique of bringing the past into the present, but making it almost alien and unknowable. I think you can say that for a number of the characters; for Clarissa and Peter, for Sally, especially for Septimus and Rezia. Sexuality is a background flavour almost, but distinct. For Clarissa and Septimus there is a looking back to what is almost portrayed to be a gay relationship; Clarissa with Sally and Septimus with Evans. This is the past intruding into and ruffling the present again. Mental ill health is another theme. I am aware that the original plan was to have Clarissa take her own life at the party, and Septimus was not part of the story. I think perhaps Woolf separated two parts of herself into the two characters, in an almost bi-polar way. The two characters never meet; I wonder if they met within Woolf. But this is also suggestive of the way society keeps mental health separate. The psychiatric establishment in the form of Bradshaw comes out of it very badly; the approach being worse than useless. Inevitably, feminism is part of the mix. Clarissa has some independence because her marriage gives her space. The women who try to be independent by different routes do much worse. Sally, so daring and independent in her youth, becomes a very conventional mother of five and loses that spark. Miss Kilman, who has a degree in history, is lonely, bitter and born again. It is almost as though Woolf is saying the best way for her is a marriage that makes few demands and gives space, because at the moment the other ways lead to despair because of society. Then there are all the literary references, the wonderful minor characters, the descriptions of the day. A great novel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Well I don't think I was quite ready for Virginia Woolf. It's my first novel by Woolf so I've finally broken my Virginia virginity. The writing is razor sharp, very witty in parts but mostly there's an energy to her writing it's slightly manic and I felt my mind racing through along with her thoughts. But did I enjoy this book? In parts. I found the pacing although the words were written beautifully a little too frenetic like she's throwing everything at you and hoping you keep up. I think this Well I don't think I was quite ready for Virginia Woolf. It's my first novel by Woolf so I've finally broken my Virginia virginity. The writing is razor sharp, very witty in parts but mostly there's an energy to her writing it's slightly manic and I felt my mind racing through along with her thoughts. But did I enjoy this book? In parts. I found the pacing although the words were written beautifully a little too frenetic like she's throwing everything at you and hoping you keep up. I think this book makes you work for it, it took some time then bam it kinda hits you! She's very modern and forward thinking and I can believe that the themes of this book were quite provocative of it's time (it is set in 1923!!) she specialises in social commentary and tackles things that may have been considered risque of the times, sexuality, depression, post traumatic stress and English class hierarchy and doesn't hold back really getting the atmosphere of London during the inter-war years. I love her enthusiasm of trivial things, everything is bright and alive in this book it's all so clever but it felt too clever for me at times and felt like I needed a degree in English literature to get more from this reading experience as a whole.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Jessica

    Okay, so this is very fabulous novel and in my opinion one of the Greatest, despite the fact that for me it was not exactly a breeze to get through. I mean, it wasn't painful or anything, but nor was it one I just sat down and plowed through like a maniac until I was through. I carried the thing around with me for awhile and poked at it in fits and starts over a period of time. I think Virginia Woolf is a genius, but there's something kind of inaccessible about her to me, maybe because I'm not a Okay, so this is very fabulous novel and in my opinion one of the Greatest, despite the fact that for me it was not exactly a breeze to get through. I mean, it wasn't painful or anything, but nor was it one I just sat down and plowed through like a maniac until I was through. I carried the thing around with me for awhile and poked at it in fits and starts over a period of time. I think Virginia Woolf is a genius, but there's something kind of inaccessible about her to me, maybe because I'm not a genius, or because I'm not British, or severely mentally-ill. Anyway, the last page of this novel is among the most brilliant passages ever written in the English language. I still remember where I was when I read it: on the One train, headed downtown, somewhere in the seventies, I think. When I read the very end of this novel, I got an incredible head rush which raced down my spine and spread a glorious, speedy, tingling sensation throughout my central nervous system. YES! Finishing this book actually got me HIGH! It really, really DID! I don't want to talk it up too much, and I can't promise *Mrs. Dalloway* will have the same effect on you. However, it is a Great book, and everybody should read it. Plus, I'm pretty sure there's a special loophole in the Important Book rules that says people who read *Mrs. Dalloway* don't have to finish *Ulysses,* *especially* if you are a girl (hey, I know that's not fair, but I don't make the rules). If time is an issue for you, this is a great deal to take advantage of, as *Mrs. Dalloway* is not only a great deal shorter, but also more accessible. Plus you will be spared the image of Leopold Bloom's penis floating in his bath water, which, let's face it, is pretty gross and will indelibly mark your fragile psyche. And for the rest of your life, whenever you are having a party, bustling about your neighborhood obtaining flowers, beer, etc., thinking about your life, you can pretend to be Mrs. Dalloway. And this is a fun thing to do, for me, anyway.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway took me on an intriguing journey through consciousness, through high-society London, its streets and the natural scenery, and the different fragments of philosophical contemplation. This was unlike anything I had read before, full of (both obscure and lucid) profound observations and meanderings of the human mind, written in beautiful, fluid prose much like the ebb and flow of the tides. There are many paragraphs to which I am sure I will return, to ponder and refle Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway took me on an intriguing journey through consciousness, through high-society London, its streets and the natural scenery, and the different fragments of philosophical contemplation. This was unlike anything I had read before, full of (both obscure and lucid) profound observations and meanderings of the human mind, written in beautiful, fluid prose much like the ebb and flow of the tides. There are many paragraphs to which I am sure I will return, to ponder and reflect upon, as I age and my awareness of others grows and as I come to feel more, and to be more sentimental.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    "She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day. Not that she thought herself clever, or much out of the ordinary." Virginia Woolf takes us through a single day in 1923 in post-World War I London. She does so with gorgeous prose "She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day. Not that she thought herself clever, or much out of the ordinary." Virginia Woolf takes us through a single day in 1923 in post-World War I London. She does so with gorgeous prose and a stream of consciousness writing that takes us directly into the very minds of both Clarissa Dalloway herself as well as those to whom she comes in contact. It is as if one could hear every little musing and wandering thought process of each person we encounter in any ordinary day. Imagine hearing all this – it could get a bit busy and confusing as all these thoughts crowd in on us! Indeed, sometimes it was a bit disorienting as a reader to jump from one mind to the next; one must truly be patient to follow the flow of thoughts within this novel in order to be rewarded. As Clarissa makes preparations for an evening party, she reflects on her past, her present and her future. Time itself plays a large role in this novel. "The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air." When a former lover, Peter Walsh, returns to England from India, Clarissa contemplates her own identity. She examines her view of her inner self in relation to the scrutiny of Peter Walsh and what she believes he thinks of her. She perceives that he thinks of her as being empty and only interested in social concerns, prosperity and parties. She feels there is so much more to her than meets the eye. Can one ever really know the innermost workings of another human being? She frequently ponders death and what her own death would mean in the context of the life she has lived. "Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? but that somehow in the streets of London, on the ebb and flow of things, here, there, she survived, Peter survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the trees at home; of the house there, ugly, rambling all to bits and pieces as it was; part of people she had never met; being laid out like a mist between the people she knew best, who lifted her on their branches as she had seen the trees lift the mist, but it spread ever so far, her life, herself." Ms. Woolf introduces us to another haunted individual within this book. A young veteran of The Great War, Septimus Warren Smith has survived the war but at great cost. Suffering from what appears to be post traumatic stress disorder, Septimus is in a downward spiral and is not able to obtain the proper psychological help needed to reverse the effects of the horrors he has witnessed. His young wife, displaced from her own country and family following her marriage, is a victim in her own right. She is not equipped to handle the trauma her husband suffers. She desires children and a stable life that Septimus is not able to provide given his illness. Unknown to one another, Septimus Smith and Clarissa Dalloway's stories are fundamentally linked together in a way which will become apparent to Clarissa on the evening of her party. Undeniably, Virginia Woolf is a brilliant writer. I have adored two of her previous works, The Voyage Out and A Room of One's Own. Mrs. Dalloway is one I certainly respect as well. However, I found the flow of thought a bit more difficult in this compared to the others I have read thus far. Essentially, depending on within whose psyche I happened to be meandering at any given moment, I was either completely submerged or floundering to get a grasp. This affected my overall enjoyment of the book but not my admiration for the beautiful language and the talent of Ms. Woolf. I will continue to read her work and perhaps come back to this another day when I can more fully immerse myself and hopefully gain even further insight. 3.5 stars

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