Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156628709
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/24/1990
Series: Centenary Editions Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 25,527
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About 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.

Date of Birth:

January 25, 1882

Date of Death:

March 28, 1941

Place of Birth:

London

Place of Death:

Sussex, England

Education:

Home schooling

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 off 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 par-ticular 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, ir-revocable. 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 up-roar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sand-wich 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 po-nies 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 ap-propriately, 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 doc-tors. 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 uphol-stered 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 say-ing, as Peter did, that he had no heart, no brain, noth-ing but the manners and breeding of an English gentle-man, that was only her dear Peter at his worst; and he could be intolerable; he could be impossible; but ador-able 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 spec-tacles, if she told him to; he would look. It was the state of the world that interested him; Wagner, Pope's po-etry, 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 off them ruined, she was con-vinced; though she had borne about with her for years like an arrow sticking in her heart the grief, the an-guish; 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 nincom-poops. 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.

She had reached the Park gates. She stood for a mo-ment, looking at the omnibuses in Piccadilly.

She would not say of any one in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, look-ing on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dan-gerous to live even one day. Not that she thought her-self clever, or much out of the ordinary. How she had got through life on the few twigs of knowledge Fraulein Daniels gave them she could not think. She knew noth-ing; no language, no history; she scarcely read a book now, except memoirs in bed; and yet to her it was ab-solutely absorbing; all this; the cabs passing; and she would not say of Peter, she would not say of herself, I am this, I am that.

Her only gift was knowing people almost by in-stinct, she thought, walking on. If you put her in a room with some one, up went her back like a cat's; or she purred. Devonshire House, Bath House, the house with the china cockatoo, she had seen them all lit up once; and remembered Sylvia, Fred, Sally Seton-such hosts of people; and dancing all night; and the waggons plodding past to market; and driving home across the Park. She remembered once throwing a shilling into the Serpentine. But every one remembered; what she loved was this, here, now, in front of her; the fat lady in the cab. Did it matter then, she asked herself, walk-ing towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must in-evitably 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, her-self. But what was she dreaming as she looked into Hatchards' shop window? What was she trying to re-cover? What image of white dawn in the country, as she read in the book spread open:

Fear no more the heat o' the sun Nor the furious winter's rages.

This late age of the world's experience had bred in them all, all men and women, a well of tears. Tears and sorrows; courage and endurance; a perfectly upright and stoical bearing. Think, for example, of the woman she admired most, Lady Bexborough, opening the bazaar.

There were Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities; there were Soapy Sponge and Mrs. Asquith's Memoirs and Big Game Shooting in Nigeria, all spread open. Ever so many books there were; but none that seemed exactly right to take to Evelyn Whitbread in her nursing home. Nothing that would serve to amuse her and make that indescribably dried-up little woman look, as Clarissa came in, just for a moment cordial; before they settled down for the usual interminable talk of women's ail-ments. How much she wanted it-that people should look pleased as she came in, Clarissa thought and turned and walked back towards Bond Street, annoyed, be-cause 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, whereas, she thought, waiting to cross, half the time she did things not simply, not for themselves; but to make peo-ple think this or that; perfect idiocy she knew (and now the policeman held up his hand) for no one was ever for a second taken in. Oh if she could have had her life over again! she thought, stepping on to the pavement, could have looked even differently!

She would have been, in the first place, dark like Lady Bexborough, with a skin of crumpled leather and beautiful eyes. She would have been, like Lady Bexborough, slow and stately; rather large; interested in politics like a man; with a country house; very digni-fied, very sincere. Instead of which she had a narrow pea-stick figure; a ridiculous little face, beaked like a bird's. That she held herself well was true; and had nice hands and feet; and dressed well, considering that she spent little. But often now this body she wore (she stopped to look at a Dutch picture), this body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing-nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not eve Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.

Copyright 1925 by Harcourt, Inc.
Copyright renewed 1953 by Leonard Woolf

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.

Table of Contents

General editors' preface; Notes on the edition; Acknowledgements; Chronology of Virginia Woolf's life and work; Introduction; Chronology of the composition of Mrs Dalloway; Mrs Dalloway; Explanatory notes; Textual apparatus; Textual notes; Appendix; Bibliography.

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.

Reading Group Guide

1. In Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf combines interior with omni-scient descriptions of character and scene. How does the author handle the transition between the interior and the exterior? Which characters' points of view are primary to the novel; which minor characters are given their own points of view? Why, and how does Woolf handle the transitions from one point of view to another? How do the shifting points of view, together with that of the author, combine to create a portrait of Clarissa and her milieu? Does this kind of novelistic portraiture resonate with other artistic movement's of Woolf s time?

2. Woolf saw Septimus Warren Smith as an essential counterpoint to Clarissa Dalloway. What specific comparisons and contrasts are drawn between the two? What primary images are associated, respectively, with Clarissa and with Septimus? What is the significance of Septimus making his first appearance as Clarissa, from her florist's window, watches the mysterious motor car in Bond Street?

3. What was Clarissa's relationship with Sally Seton? What is the significance of Sally's reentry into Clarissa's life after so much time? What role does Sally play in Clarissa's past and in her present?

4. What is Woolf s purpose in creating a range of female charac-ters of various ages and social classes-from Clarissa herself and Lady Millicent Burton to Sally Seton, Doris Kilman, Lucrezia Smith, and Maisie Johnson? Does she present a comparable range of male characters?

5. Clarissa's movements through London, along with the comings and goings of other characters, are given in some geographic detail. Do the patterns of movement and the characters' intersecting routes establish a pattern? If so, how do those physical patterns reflect important internal patterns of thought, memory, feelings, and attitudes? What is the view of London that we come away with?

6. As the day and the novel proceed, the hours and half hours are sounded by a variety of clocks (for instance, Big Ben strikes noon at the novel's exact midpoint). What is the effect of the time being constantly announced on the novel's structure and on our sense of the pace of the characters' lives? What hours in association with which events are explicitly sounded? Why? Is there significance in Big Ben being the chief announcer of time?

7. Woolf shifts scenes between past and present, primarily through Clarissa's, Septimus's, and others' memories. Does this device successfully establish the importance of the past as a shap-ing influence on and an informing component of the present? Which characters promote this idea? Does Woolf seem to believe this holds true for individuals as it does for society as a whole?

8. Threats of disorder and death recur throughout the novel, cul-minating in Septimus's suicide and repeating later in Sir William Bradshaw's report of that suicide at Clarissa's party. When do thoughts or images of disorder and death appear in the novel, and in connection with which characters? What are those characters' attitudes concerning death?

9. Clarissa and others have a heightened sense of the "splendid achievement" and continuity of English history, culture, and tradition. How do Clarissa and others respond to that history and culture? What specific elements of English history and culture are viewed as primary?
How does Clarissa's attitude, specifically, compare with Septimus's attitude on these points?

10. As he leaves Regent's Park, Peter sees and hears "a tall quiver-ing shape,... a battered woman" singing of love and death: "the voice of an ancient spring spouting from the earth. . ." singing "the ancient song." What is Peter's reaction and what significance does the battered woman and her ancient song have for the novel as a whole?

11. Clarissa reads lines from Shakespeare's Cymbeline (IV, ii) from an open book in a shop window: "Fear no more the heat o' the sun / Nor the furious winter's rages. / Thou thy worldly task hast done, / Home art gone and ta'en thy wages: / Golden lads and girls all must, / As chimney-sweepers, come to dust." These lines are alluded to many times. What importance do they have for Clarissa, Septimus, and the novel's principal themes? What fears do Clarissa and other characters experience?

12. Why does Woolf end the novel with Clarissa as seen through Peter's eyes? Why does he experience feelings of "terror," "ecstasy," and "extraordinary excitement" in her presence? What is the significance of those feelings, and do we as readers share them?

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Mrs. Dalloway (Annotated) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 114 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 3rd reading. Finally, I got it and thoroughly enjoyed the interior voice of it. I was too young in college, too distracted and still not old enough in my 30s . (It should not be assigned in high school) A great read especially for 50 and older readers. I will read again for it has multiple facets.
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Mrs. Dalloway" is a wonderful, touching novel. It's a bit difficult to understand, but it's worth getting through. Woolf wrote it in such a way that one can see and think through these characters. We can be with them throughout their day and the events that occur. We're drawn in as a reader. There aren't chapters in the book, and that may throw some off, but it's genuinely worth it for this piece of art.
emily_morine on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Mrs. Dalloway is very special. I know that some people hate it, but I cannot comprehend that. To me it is the most beautiful, perfectly-realized novel in the English (or perhaps any) language, and reading it convinced me that art is worth making. The use of language; the subtle ways in which communication is difficult, effortless, impossible or transcendent for the different characters at different times; the ways that compromise is both heartbreaking and gorgeous; the anger and love; the gifts that people give one another without realizing it; the way that simple objects become fraught with real significance and everyday, domestic scenes become beautiful moments to treasure...the hat-making scene! The scene where Peter and Clarissa roam in and out of each others' thoughts! The way that everyone in London is interconnected! Elizabeth's ride on the bus! Clarissa's explanation of why she wants to give the party! Every sentence in this novel is gorgeous, the book as a whole is one of the most scathing-yet-kind, brutal-yet-beautiful true inventions I have ever come across.
rebeccler on LibraryThing 3 months ago
To my mind, nearly everything Woolf writes does something beautifully. I cut my academic teeth on this novel, and I look forward to reading it again.
1morechapter on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I must be too dense in the literary sense, because I just don¿t get this book at all. I had to stop reading it every half hour because it was just too much otherwise. I felt a similar way this year when I read Inheritance of Loss. I just don¿t enjoy a book when I have to read it that way. I don¿t get into planning parties or the minute details of such. In fact, I avoid that like the plague. I¿m not into social scenes, either. In this book, everyone loves Clarissa, but isn¿t she the most shallow character in it? I don¿t get it. I would like to re-read it again in a few years to see if I feel any differently. At least I feel more enlightened that I have finally read Woolf. I¿d actually like to read more about her than by her.
EricaKline on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I enjoyed this. Woolf's usual rather chaotic style, but pretty readable. A woman, her life and loves. She's not perfect or noble, perhaps even somewhat ordinary; yet she's somehow very special also.
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a great book. I absolutely love Virginia Woolf, however I like some of her other books better. The movie, The Hours, is also good, which was based off of this book. If you like Virginia Woolf, you should definitely pick this up.
eheleneb3 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The way certain words can be put together to so powerfully convey a certain emotion or action is one of the magical things about reading for me, and this book exquisitely captures that. I loved this book. I think if I had read it when I was a teenager I would have hated it, because I would not have been able to follow the stream-of-consciousness style and the beauty of the words would have been lost on me. However, reading it as an adult I took sheer pleasure in the way Woolf describes the most every day occurrences and emotions. This is not a book to be rushed, nor is it (really) a plot-driven book. It focuses on the way we as human beings move through time; how we spend our days, the way we think, how things we experience motivate us to think a certain way or to do a certain thing. Beautiful!
strandbooks on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This was the second time I read Mrs. Dalloway. It took longer for me to get into it. The first time I read it I was immersed in my college lit classes so I think it was harder to read the stream of conciousness. I still rate this as one of the top books I've ever read. Yes, it all happens in one day, and there isn't much plot but that is not the purpose of Woolf's works. I feel that she really captures the way we think.The two central themes I found involved the web imagery that connect us all and that we really are unable to know anyone. When I read it in college I did a whole paper just on time in the novel and how the characters dealt with time/aging. There is so much in this novel. I'm sure if I read it again in 10 years I'll focus on something else.
kambrogi on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I read [Mrs. Dalloway] as a companion to [The Hours], as the latter is a shout-out to the former. It is a slow and delicious read, a psychological novel that is purely character-driven and dense. It was especially interesting to read right after The Hours, as there is much overlap in character, plot and even language. It is a brilliant psychological work, and I am glad I read it, but would not recommend it to someone who is looking for a fast-paced reading experience.
bastet on LibraryThing 3 months ago
One of the seminal books for women's fiction (no irony intended). Worth every word.
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I realize this borders on blasphemy, but I found this book tedious and easily forgettable. I was inclined to give it an even lower rating, but I feared there might be some law in Literary Land that bars a "1 star" rating for any work by Virginia Woolf :)
trench_wench on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Heavy going, but oh so worth it. I think this will bear many re-readings, I don't think I 'got' a quarter of what is in this book. But that's a good thing.
mattviews on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Out of a gnawing curiosity after reading The Hours, I found my way to Mrs. Dalloway. The novel unfolds over one sultry day in London as Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party she will give in the evening. Smith has battled against mental illness from his experiences in World War II. Clarissa kicks off the day buying flowers for the party. As the day unravels, narration begins to shift to different characters. Clarissa reminisces of her entangled love relationships at Bourton. During her earlier years, Clarissa caught herself between her fiancé, Peter Walsh, her sensual female friend Sally Seton, and her husband Richard Dalloway. Much to Clarissa's surprise (as well as mine) is when all these old-time lovers reunion at the evening party in the presence of the Prime Minister. Peter Walsh shows up at Clarissa's doorstep right before the party after running off to India for some 25 years. The voluptuous Sally Seton also makes her entrance as Lady Rosseter. Present among the London elite are Sir Septimus Warren Smith and his wife. Smith has struggled with mental illness from his experiences of World War I. Incidents that lead to convergence of these characters is what makes the book a legacy (you have to read and find out).The book overall does not manifest a structure. Virginia Woolf has told the story through the multiple point of views from the different characters. The book also explores the hidden thoughts, feelings, and actions and relies on which to tell the story. At the end the story is seamlessly woven together with the party being the meeting points of all her characters. The pleasure of reading this book stems from seeing how these characters have gone their own separate and unpredictable ways, headed off in their own directions, pinned by memory, and cross path again at the evening party. If you find reading The Hours somewhat confusing, Mrs. Dalloway is even more so, between the shifts of characters. For a tiny book Woolf has written prose that is packed with figurative language, poetic expressions, vivid details and provocative tones. The sensual affair between Clarissa and Sally is hinted at in a stifling manner. Michael Cunningham graciously makes that affair come into fruition by putting Clarissa and Sally in the same bedroom in The Hours. The book is simple in plot, but rich in language. That is, certain level of attentiveness is required for reading. I'm convinced that Michael Cunningham must have inherited Woolf's idiosyncratic language and long sentences! And I think this is what many fellow reviewers refer as the "stream-of-consciousness" approach. But don't let that the big term turn you off and miss this great novel. A crafted work.
jedisluzer on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Hard to get into at first because I thought I hated the style, but this is one of those books where by the end I was floored.
joshrothman on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Obviously one of the greatest novels of the 20th c. If, like me, you haven't read this in a while, it rewards repeated readings as few other short novels do.
dawnpen on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Breaking like that in the middle of the bedroom. To have a daughter and a husband. And to walk in the morning through the streets like that. With all the time upon you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Through captivating imagery and emotion, Woolf intertwines the beauty of love, tragedy and regret to paint a literary tableau of the human heart.
BlueEyeBooks More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy Virginia Woolf, by all means completely disregard everything I say right now.  I think I was just Woolfed out after my public school education where I spent a whole semester reading her short stories en masse.  After I while, I just get so tired of deciphering her specific style of writing.  I will say this: I enjoyed it much more compared to the likely outcome of my reading it independently (I probably wouldn't have been able to make it through).  Woolf's writing is just incredibly dense and intuitive and sometimes I just don't have the energy for it.  It gets so much easier once you figure out the organizational structure she employs (hint: the clock is the key).  If you're struggling with this but you want to finish it, I highly recommend paying attention to that.  Generally speaking, it's good writing and a very interesting subject (the collision of worlds in post-WWI Britain) but I just couldn't convince myself to love it.  Another interesting thing of note: it takes place over a single day which makes every miniscule action incredibly important and worth scrutiny.  This is the only book I've ever read that's done this which was interesting. The Final Verdict: If you like writing from Woolf's era, you'll love this.  I couldn't get into the dense and sometimes randomly directional writing. 3 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Facepalms*