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Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway (original 1925; edition 1990)

by Virginia Woolf

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15,999280207 (3.88)1 / 1013
Fear no more the heat of the sun.' Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf's fourth novel, offers the reader an impression of a single June day in London in 1923. Clarissa Dalloway, the wife of a Conservative member of parliament, is preparing to give an evening party, while the shell-shocked Septimus Warren Smith hears the birds in Regent's Park chattering in Greek. There seems to be nothing, except perhaps London, to link Clarissa and Septimus. She is middle-aged and prosperous, with a sheltered happy life behind her; Smith isyoung, poor, and driven to hatred of himself and the whole human race. Yet bo.… (more)
Title:Mrs. Dalloway
Authors:Virginia Woolf
Info:Harvest Books (1990), Edition: 1st Harvest/HBJ ed, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Classic Literature

Work details

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Author) (1925)

  1. 201
    The Hours by Michael Cunningham (PLReader)
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  4. 20
    Ulysse I by James Joyce (caflores)
  5. 10
    The Life and Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair (DanLovesAlice)
    DanLovesAlice: As much as Clarissa Dalloway is a product of a constrictive society, Sinclair's Harriet Frean is even worse. Severely psychologically affected in later life by her parent's rules, her individuality and freedom is ruined by always 'behaving beautifully'.… (more)
  6. 21
    Five Bells by Gail Jones (fountainoverflows)
  7. 00
    One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes (shaunie)
    shaunie: The subject matter is quite different but the writing style is similar, it's a shame One Fine Day is much less well known.
  8. 01
    Ulysses by James Joyce (Othemts)
  9. 02
    The Hours [2002 film] by Stephen Daldry (TheLittlePhrase)
  10. 05
    Great Books by David Denby (Anonymous user)
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English (257)  Spanish (6)  French (5)  Dutch (3)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  German (1)  All languages (279)
Showing 1-5 of 257 (next | show all)
Firstly, this novel is a day in the life of aristocrat/socialite Clarissa Dalloway. She is finalizing preparations for a party she is hosting that evening when she is faced with a couple of unusual circumstances - her husband is attending a luncheon, with another woman, to which she was not invited - her former beau has returned from India after a 30 year absence - and someone has decided to have a bit of a life altering event that disturbs the party. The problem with this novel is I had to be a literary archaeologist to dig through all the verbiage to unearth the story. Stream of consciousness narrative buries the actual story with a multitude of sounds, sights and thoughts.

Secondly, not only did I find this book a very difficult read for that reason but also the shifts in time stream of consciousness creates. Often times paragraphs switch from present day thoughts to past events unknowingly. This made for a very uneven read, even annoying.
This is not a book to read for pleasure. One needs to be an alert, active reader. It's a lot of work.

This book should be read, not for relaxation but for a snapshot of early 20th century life, which is described quite well, when you can see it. ( )
  Carmenere | Dec 10, 2019 |
Well, I've tried, but Woolf has had three chances, and I'm afraid she simply does not work for me.

I was struck here by the book's resemblance to Ulysses. Both take place over the course of a single day. Both spend much of their time in the heads of various characters, focusing on deep introspection rather than character interaction. Being written around the same time, there's a lot of similarity in use of language.

But where Ulysses immediately grabbed me and won me over with its language, structure and deliciously real, uncensored stream-of-conciousness, Mrs. Dalloway just didn't present me with a hook at any point. I suppose there's nothing wrong with it perse; it just doesn't do anything for me.

I doubt I'll go back to Woolf after this, as she's very much underwhelmed me three times now, and there's so many other great books out there! ( )
  Sammystarbuck | Nov 6, 2019 |
Reading Mrs. Dalloway almost 100 years after its initial publication is a thought-provoking experience. One understands that Wolfe’s experimentation in modernism – the stream-of-consciousness narration, the deliberate manipulations of time and space – were daringly new at the time of their writing. Since then, however, authors have played with these concepts and taken them in so many new directions, it’s become harder to appreciate the novelty, the literary accomplishment, of those who first set us on this path. (Imagine being expected to pay homage to the guy who invented pagers now, in the era of cell phones.) I found myself asking, as I polished off the last page: “I get why this was a big deal back in the day, but aside from literary context and some passages of lovely, artful prose, what (if anything) does this novel have to offer?”

On the one hand, the novel does explore some universal themes. For instance, many of the characters are hiding their true natures behind caricatures that either society or their own choices have forced upon them. (Richard, the politician who would really rather be a country gentleman; Peter, the colonial administrator who would really rather be a radical; Lady Bruton, the society matron who would really rather be a military leader.) It could be argued that Mrs. Dalloway is one of the few characters who doesn’t let others shape her, but instead pursues her own happiness with unusual clarity and determination. (Other reviewers have interpreted her fixation on giving parties as a sign that she is motivated by social position, but I would argue that she gives parties because she finds them interesting to HER – SHE enjoys the challenge of putting people together, of providing a context in which she exposes the true nature of others. Note how unimpressed she is when the Prime Minister shows up at her shindig? She’s far more interested in how her other guests react to his presence.)

Many of the novel’s other themes, however, are only very shallowly explored: mental instability (Septimus), the limited roles for women in society (Lady Bruton, Elizabeth, Ellie), homosexuality (Clarissa & Sally, possibly Septimus & Evan), social pretention (Hugh), people who impose their will upon others (Dr. Bradshaw). I constantly found myself referring back to contemporary texts by writers like Greene, Forster, and Lessing that explored these themes in much more comprehensive ways.

There are other aspects of the novel that fail to satisfy. I’ve tried to understand how Clarissa and Septimus are “dopplegangers,” but I’m not sure I get it – unless it’s as simple as “some people figure out how to be content with their lives, others don’t.” I’ve tried to understand the novel as a feminist text, but Mrs. Dalloway manages to find her happiness without having to challenge any social, gender, or cultural norms. I gather Wolfe at one time intended Clarissa to commit suicide at the penultimate party. While the final version of the story rejects this ending, Wolfe has left much of the foreshadowing intact (references to Clarissa’s “recent illness,” scenes in which she revisits her past life & decisions – much as authors would have us believe people nearing the end of their lives are wont to do), which feels like narrative carelessness. Finally, Wolfe’s characters – whether defined over the course of pages or paragraphs – rarely venture beyond caricatures. Her most successful character isn’t even Mrs. Dalloway - it is post-war London, the only entity to emerge from the pages vibrant, complex, and fully realized.

In summary, I think the argument can be made that Mrs. Dalloway deserves its place on any list of 100 Most Important Works of Fiction. But I’m not ready to nominate it for a spot on 100 Best Works of Fiction – not in a world gifted with 100 additional years of texts that blend literary experimentation AND essential, consequential content. ( )
  Dorritt | Oct 18, 2019 |
"I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters; I think it gives them exactly what I want: humanity, humor, depth; the idea is that the caves shall connect, and each comes to daylight at the present moment"

This quote from Virginia Woolf's diary, and re-quoted in the Introduction to this edition written by Bonnie Kime Scott, explains a good deal of Mrs. Dalloway. It's a satire on early 20th century British society, illustrated by way of its characters. And it's a long list of characters, that are each a slice of English society known to Wolfe and described with precision in long luxurious sentences that reveal their inner thoughts and attitudes. Not only people but nature - clouds, trees , sky -are brought to life in the same way providing atmosphere.

There is not much of a plot, but the novel moves along on the metaphor of time. The "action" takes place over one day; clocks strike the hour regularly, characters mark their age by remembering when they were young.

The novel culminates in Mrs. Dalloway's party. Paraphrasing Woolf, the sky "resigns" as it pales from day light to darkness. But London doesn't; that's when the "revelry" begins.

A really wonderful book with prose to savor.

( )
  steller0707 | Aug 25, 2019 |
I find stream of consciousness books usually hard to follow but not this. Brilliant. ( )
  siok | Aug 24, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 257 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (67 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, VirginiaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, VanessaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bening, AnnetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brunt, NiniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cunningham, ValentineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duffy, Carol AnnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hämäläinen, KyllikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, MaureenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNichol, StellaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pawlowski, Merry M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalero, AlessandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Showalter, ElaineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
La signora Dalloway disse che i fiori li avrebbe comprati lei.
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
… aveva l'anima tutta arrugginita da quell'astio che vi si era conficcato dentro: …
Chi ha coraggio di mettere figli in un mondo come questo? Non si può perpetuare il dolore, né aumentare la razza di quegli animali lussuriosi, i quali non hanno emozioni durature, ma solo capricci e vanità che li trascinano alla deriva.
«E basta, per ora. Più tardi…», e la frase morì sgocciolando, clop clop clop, come un rubinetto soddisfatto d'essere rimasto aperto.
Si sarebbero mummificati giovani.
… (in grigio e argento, la dama si dondolava come una foca sull'orlo della sua vasca, affamata d'inviti, tipica moglie di un professionista riuscito) …
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Disambiguation notice
"Mrs. Dalloway," "Mrs. Dalloway's Party," "The Mrs. Dalloway Reader," and "Mrs. Dalloway" in combination with other titles (e.g., "The Waves" or "To the Lighthouse") are each distinct works or combinations of works. Please preserve these distinctions, and don't combine any of the other works with this one. Thank you.
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Book description
s Clarissa Dalloway walks through London on a fine June morning, a sky-writing plane captures her attention. Crowds stare upwards to decipher the message while the plane turns and loops, leaving off one letter, picking up another. Like the airplane's swooping path, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway follows Clarissa and those whose lives brush hers--from Peter Walsh, whom she spurned years ago, to her daughter Elizabeth, the girl's angry teacher, Doris Kilman, and war-shocked Septimus Warren Smith, who is sinking into madness.

As Mrs. Dalloway prepares for the party she is giving that evening, a series of events intrudes on her composure. Her husband is invited, without her, to lunch with Lady Bruton (who, Clarissa notes anxiously, gives the most amusing luncheons). Meanwhile, Peter Walsh appears, recently from India, to criticize and confide in her. His sudden arrival evokes memories of a distant past, the choices she made then, and her wistful friendship with Sally Seton.
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182490, 0141198508, 024195679X

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909438014, 1909438022

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