Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway

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by Virginia Woolf
     
 

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The delicate artistry & lyrical prose of this fourth novel by Virginia Woolf established her as a writer of profound talent. Her singular technique in Mrs. Dalloway heralds a break with the traditional novel form & reflects a genuine humanity & a concern with the experiences that both enrich & stultify existence. Society hostess Clarissa Dalloway is giving a party.

Overview

The delicate artistry & lyrical prose of this fourth novel by Virginia Woolf established her as a writer of profound talent. Her singular technique in Mrs. Dalloway heralds a break with the traditional novel form & reflects a genuine humanity & a concern with the experiences that both enrich & stultify existence. Society hostess Clarissa Dalloway is giving a party. Her thoughts & sensations on that one day, & the interior monologues of others whose lives are interwoven with hers, gradually reveal the characters of the central protagonists. Clarissas life is touched by tragedy as the events in her day run parallel to those in the day of Septimus Warren Smith.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Virginia Woolf stands as the chief figure of modernism in England and must be included with Joyce and Proust in the realization of experiments that have completely broken with tradition.
From the Publisher
"Mrs. Dalloway was the first novel to split the atom. If the novel before Mrs. Dalloway aspired to immensities of scope and scale, to heroic journeys across vast landscapes, with Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf insisted that it could also locate the enormous within the everyday; that a life of errands and party-giving was every bit as viable a subject as any life lived anywhere; and that should any human act in any novel seem unimportant, it has merely been inadequately observed. The novel as an art form has not been the same since. Mrs. Dalloway also contains some of the most beautiful, complex, incisive and idiosyncratic sentences ever written in English, and that alone would be reason enough to read it. It is one of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century."
—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
Maggie Humm
"With its annotated contemporary reviews, newspaper articles, and historical and medical documents, Broadview's Mrs Dalloway is an ideal student text."
Beth Rigel Daughterty
"Jo-Ann Wallace's superb edition of Mrs. Dalloway offers students, scholars, and common readers a richly contextualized framework for Woolf's fourth novel. Brief, clear, and unobtrusive annotations cover geographical, historical, economic, social, and literary allusions. A thorough yet readable introduction covers Woolf's biography and reputation, her novel's modernist and experimental features, and its status as a war novel. Excellent appendices capture a wide range of contemporary reactions, locate the novel within Woolf's fictional and nonfictional canon, and give readers entry into the lived experience of the time through political, medical, educational, and social documents. The select bibliography and brief chronology are also helpful."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781480020368
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
10/01/2012
Pages:
230
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)

Read an Excerpt

MRS. DALLOWAY SAID she would buy the flowers herself.

For Lucy had her work cut out for her. The doors would be taken off their hinges; Rumpelmayer's men were coming. And then, thought Clarissa Dalloway, what a morning-fresh as if issued to children on a beach.

What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said, "Musing among the vegetables?"-was that it?-"I prefer men to cauliflowers"-was that it? He must have said it at breakfast one morning when she had gone out on to the terrace-Peter Walsh. He would be back from India one of these days, June or July, she forgot which, for his letters were awfully dull; it was his sayings one remembered; his eyes, his pocket-knife, his smile, his grumpiness and, when millions of things had utterly vanished-how strange it was!-a few sayings like this about cabbages.

She stiffened a little on the kerb, waiting for Durtnall's van to pass. A charming woman, Scrope Purvis thought her (knowing her as one does know people who live next door to one in Westminster); a touch of the bird about her, of the jay, blue-green, light, vivacious, though she was over fifty, and grown very white since her illness. There she perched, never seeing him, waiting to cross, very upright.

For having lived in Westminster-how many years now? over twenty,-one feels even in the midst of the traffic, or waking at night, Clarissa was positive, a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause; a suspense (but that might be her heart, affected, they said, by influenza) before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. Such fools we are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can't be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life. In people's eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.

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 and now the old Manor House must go to a cousin; or Lady Bexborough who opened a bazaar, they said, with the telegram in her hand, John, her favourite, killed; but it was over; thank Heaven-over. It was June. The King and Queen were at the Palace. And everywhere, though it was still so early, there was a beating, a stirring of galloping ponies, tapping of cricket bats; Lords, Ascot, Ranelagh and all the rest of it; wrapped in the soft mesh of the grey-blue morning air, which, as the day wore on, would unwind them, and set down on their lawns and pitches the bouncing ponies whose forefeet just struck the ground and up they sprung, the whirling young men, and laughing girls in their transparent muslins who, even now, after dancing all night, were taking their absurd woolly dogs for a run; and even now, at this hour, discreet old dowagers were shooting out in their motor cars on errands of mystery; and the shopkeepers were fidgeting in their windows with their paste and diamonds, their lovely old sea-green brooches in eighteenth-century settings to tempt Americans (but one must economise, not buy things rashly for Elizabeth), and she, too, loving it as she did with an absurd and faithful passion, being part of it, since her people were courtiers once in the time of the Georges, she, too, was going that very night to kindle and illuminate; to give her party. But how strange, on entering the Park, the silence; the mist; the hum; the slow-swimming happy ducks; the pouched birds waddling; and who should be coming along with his back against the Government buildings, most appropriately, carrying a despatch box stamped with the Royal Arms, who but Hugh Whitbread; her old friend Hugh-the admirable Hugh!

"Good-morning to you, Clarissa!" said Hugh, rather extravagantly, for they had known each other as children. "Where are you off to?"

"I love walking in London," said Mrs. Dalloway. "Really it's better than walking in the country."

They had just come up-unfortunately-to see doctors. Other people came to see pictures; go to the opera; take their daughters out; the Whitbreads came "to see doctors." Times without number Clarissa had visited Evelyn Whitbread in a nursing home. Was Evelyn ill again? Evelyn was a good deal out of sorts, said Hugh, intimating by a kind of pout or swell of his very well-covered, manly, extremely handsome, perfectly upholstered body (he was almost too well dressed always, but presumably had to be, with his little job at Court) that his wife had some internal ailment, nothing serious, which, as an old friend, Clarissa Dalloway would quite understand without requiring him to specify. Ah yes, she did of course; what a nuisance; and felt very sisterly and oddly conscious at the same time of her hat. Not the right hat for the early morning, was that it? For Hugh always made her feel, as he bustled on, raising his hat rather extravagantly and assuring her that she might be a girl of eighteen, and of course he was coming to her party to-night, Evelyn absolutely insisted, only a little late he might be after the party at the Palace to which he had to take one of Jim's boys,-she always felt a little skimpy beside Hugh; schoolgirlish; but attached to him, partly from having known him always, but she did think him a good sort in his own way, though Richard was nearly driven mad by him, and as for Peter Walsh, he had never to this day forgiven her for liking him.

She could remember scene after scene at Bourton-Peter furious; Hugh not, of course, his match in any way, but still not a positive imbecile as Peter made out; not a mere barber's block. When his old mother wanted him to give up shooting or to take her to Bath he did it, without a word; he was really unselfish, and as for saying, as Peter did, that he had no heart, no brain, nothing but the manners and breeding of an English gentleman, that was only her dear Peter at his worst; and he could be intolerable; he could be impossible; but adorable to walk with on a morning like this.

(June had drawn out every leaf on the trees. The mothers of Pimlico gave suck to their young. Messages were passing from the Fleet to the Admiralty. Arlington Street and Piccadilly seemed to chafe the very air in the Park and lift its leaves hotly, brilliantly, on waves of that divine vitality which Clarissa loved. To dance, to ride, she had adored all that.)

For they might be parted for hundreds of years, she and Peter; she never wrote a letter and his were dry sticks; but suddenly it would come over her, If he were with me now what would he say?-some days, some sights bringing him back to her calmly, without the old bitterness; which perhaps was the reward of having cared for people; they came back in the middle of St. James's Park on a fine morning-indeed they did. But Peter-however beautiful the day might be, and the trees and the grass, and the little girl in pink-Peter never saw a thing of all that. He would put on his spectacles, if she told him to; he would look. It was the state of the world that interested him; Wagner, Pope's poetry, people's characters eternally, and the defects of her own soul. How he scolded her! How they argued! She would marry a Prime Minister and stand at the top of a staircase; the perfect hostess he called her (she had cried over it in her bedroom), she had the makings of the perfect hostess, he said.

So she would still find herself arguing in St. James's Park, still making out that she had been right-and she had too-not to marry him. 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. (Where was he this morning for instance? Some committee, she never asked what.) 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; though she had borne about with her for years like an arrow sticking in her heart the grief, the anguish; and then the horror of the moment when some one told her at a concert that he had married a woman met on the boat going to India! Never should she forget all that! Cold, heartless, a prude, he called her. Never could she understand how he cared. But those Indian women did presumably-silly, pretty, flimsy nincompoops. And she wasted her pity. For he was quite happy, he assured her-perfectly happy, though he had never done a thing that they talked of; his whole life had been a failure. It made her angry still.

Copyright 1925 by Harcourt, Inc.
Copyright renewed 1953 by Leonard Woolf
Annotated Edition copyright © 2005 by Harcourt, Inc.
Introduction copyright © 2005 by Bonnie Kime Scott

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Mrs. Dalloway was the first novel to split the atom. If the novel before Mrs. Dalloway aspired to immensities of scope and scale, to heroic journeys across vast landscapes, with Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf insisted that it could also locate the enormous within the everyday; that a life of errands and party-giving was every bit as viable a subject as any life lived anywhere; and that should any human act in any novel seem unimportant, it has merely been inadequately observed. The novel as an art form has not been the same since. Mrs. Dalloway also contains some of the most beautiful, complex, incisive and idiosyncratic sentences ever written in English, and that alone would be reason enough to read it. It is one of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century."
—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
Susan Sontag
Most of my reading is rereading. Last night I opened Mrs. Dalloway to look up something (I thought I remembered a reference to Wagner, whom I've been thinking a lot about lately) and started to read and couldn't stop. I read until two in the morning and woke at eight to read until eleven . . . something I had no intention of doing. I first read Mrs. Dalloway when I was sixteen; and each time — this was the fourth — it has seemed like a different book. This time I thought it more extraordinary, more original, even stronger than I remembered.

Meet the Author

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882–1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 25, 1882
Date of Death:
March 28, 1941
Place of Birth:
London
Place of Death:
Sussex, England
Education:
Home schooling

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Mrs. Dalloway (Annotated) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 90 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mrs. Dalloway is a difficult book to read, especially if you do not enjoy reading or you are not a very apt reader. I've read several reviews on Virginia Woolf's books, and I have to say that the main reason behind the bad reviews is ignorance. It is a day, and in this single day in a person's life Woolf makes the closest representation of love in writing I have ever read. Simply genius, however difficult the book is for you, I assure you that the ending makes it worth it. However, if by the time you finish it you feel like Woolf failed and did not 'make sure something happened', go watch an action film that's not too clever for you. :)
Broket_Samling More than 1 year ago
I will admit, when I first attempted to read this novel, I was intimidated by Woolf's complicated, dense prose and lack of plot substance. I now can say that it is one of my favorite novels not for its plot (which is admittedly nothing more than one day in the life of a simple woman setting up for an evening with friends) or escapism in setting or fantastic characters but for the symbolism throughout. The characters are shattered, fragmented (because of WWI, in my opinion) and seem to represent facets of society. I found, in them, bits and pieces of my own self; I was forced to look upon the unpleasant and questioned the supposed "good" qualities. The style of writing is quite virtuosic and needs a steady mind from the reader for interpreting the stream of thought and exit and entrance of each character. It is for this reason that I would feel apprehensive in choosing this book for a readers group or class discussion. Woolf's prose is very filling and consuming: not something many casual readers would like when indulging in a book (which is also the reason I hesitate suggesting Mrs. Dalloway for literature classes unless they are advanced students who are taught the significant aspects of literature analysis). On the whole, Mrs. Dalloway is quite a wonderful read, delving into the psychological and social aspects of what could be any given day in anyone's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not sure what I think about this book. The writing is an interconnected stream of conscienceness among all the characters in the book. You almost feel like you are floating from one characters mind to the next. I don't think anyone could say that the author is not extremely talented but I did not find the book that enjoyable. There is really not much plot more of portraits of each character. Glad I read it though, I love to be exposed to different writing styles and ideas.
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
Not My Style of Writing Reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf reminded me of why many of these books I have pledged to read are considered challenges. I was really looking forward to reading this book because I was under the impression that other people liked it. As I found out later, this is not necessarily the case and I can understand why. It’s not that Mrs. Dalloway is a bad book and, in fact, it gets better as it goes along and even has some profound quotes, such as, “Nothing exists outside us except a state of mind.” The book is incredibly detailed and vivid in its descriptions, and Woolf does a great job of really getting inside of the heads of various characters. The problem is the stream of consciousness writing made it difficult to recognize transitions from one person to the next. No matter what page I was on, I felt like I was having aha moments about two pages before. I was always reading a few pages of my comprehension. The result is that I can look back on the book with some fondness, but I remember the difficulties I encountered. My favorite parts were those pertaining to Septimus and Rezia (even more so than Mrs. Dalloway herself). Theirs was a palpable and tragic story that I could have read an entire book about. To be fair to the book, I skipped the Introduction. It was more or less a play-by-play of the entire book and I thought that reading it would ruin the story for me. Instead, I read it after I finished the book and it put things into better context for me. If I were to do it over again, though, I still don’t think I would have read the Introduction first. I don’t like knowing everything that’s going to happen in a book, even if it makes it “easier” to get through. The book has a great quote that says, “It is a thousand pities never to say what one feels,” and so, I will be honest….. I could have just read the Introduction and skipped reading the book altogether and come away with the same amount of comprehension. But that’s neither here nor there and I am left feeling ambiguous about the book. I enjoyed it after the fact, but not as much while reading it.
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
I was assigned this book several times in high school and college and turned to Monarch notes rather than finishing, because words can not express how tedious and boring I found this book. Hated it. Recently, I wanted to read Cunningham's "The Hours" because I was intrigued by the film. I knew that Mrs Dalloway was one source for the novel, so wanting to get more out of my reading I returned to this novel, thinking, well, maybe being more of a sophisticated reader I'll enjoy it now. I can't say I did. The novel is written with the stream of consciousness technique and has no chapters and few section breaks. Woolf's sentences are famously long and complex. Sometimes this makes for lyrical, sinuous prose; I especially remembered one passage about the flowers looking like starched laundry striking me as beautiful. It was easier to take in such sentences early in the book, but the prose became more and more numbing because of the its unrelieved density. There are many paragraphs and sentences I reread more than once trying to make sense of them. The narrative often comes across as rambling and incoherent. Given one of the characters is mentally ill, I think some of the narrative is deliberately mad. Different point of views mix throughout the novel without clear cut edges. This is also one of those novels that's feels abstruse, dated, because of many contemporary references are hard to get as a 21st century American without constantly turning to the notes. There's little discernable plot. We follow various characters--mostly related to Mrs Dalloway--through one mid-June day in London, but the events feel disjointed. Besides there being no plot to absorb me, there was not one character I found likable--I found Mrs Dalloway herself and almost all the characters vapid and shallow. This isn't an accessible story like those of a Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or EM Forester--its very interior and page after page is filled with character's thoughts. There is a structure and technique of historic importance, but not a read I'd call enjoyable and filled with the melancholies of middle age. A formative classic for good reason, so I'd give it a shot if you haven't read it--but I finished it more frustrated than moved.
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