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Mevrouw Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
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Mevrouw Dalloway (original 1925; edition 2013)

by Virginia Woolf, Boukje Verheij, Joke J. Hermsen

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13,079218173 (3.88)1 / 839
Member:Ad_Oculos
Title:Mevrouw Dalloway
Authors:Virginia Woolf
Other authors:Boukje Verheij, Joke J. Hermsen
Info:Amsterdam Athenaeum-Polak en Van Gennep 2013
Collections:Your library, Literatuur
Rating:***
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Work details

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

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    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)
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Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
Mrs. Dalloway has been sitting on my shelf forever. High up on a shelf usually only accessed when it’s time for an occasional dusting and amongst a bunch of other books written in the first half of the twentieth century that came from the shelves of my grandmother’s library. Down it came as I continued my mission to read more women writers and see if I can reverse the gendered percentage of the books I read annually. Normally, and unconsciously, it’s been 3:1.

I found Mrs. Dalloway to be a very accessible example of modernist twentieth century literature. I’m a great lover of Joyce’s work in stream-of-consciousness writing. If Ulysses is used as a meter for progressively more dense and difficult prose, Woolf’s technique in Mrs. Dalloway would fall somewhere in the middle chapters. Like Ulysses, this is a day in the life of its characters. Nothing momentous happens, just life, and a party given by Clarissa Dalloway. While I found the title character to be hard to like in her vapidity, the supporting characters like Peter Walsh, Sally Seton, and Septimus Warren Smith were much more interesting and intriguing. In particular, I was very interested in Woolf’s description of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this case, it is Warren Smith who is suffering after being in the trenches of WWI. We get a close look at how this affects his marriage and his life after the horror of the war. Additionally, Woolf takes a close look at the various “relationship/marriage” options available at the time. We have Clarissa settling for a reliable, moneyed marriage over the idealistic Peter, who chooses not to marry, and even over an “impossible” homosexual relationship with Sally, who herself also chooses the more conventional route later in life by marrying a businessman.

Woolf’s prose is rich and wonderfully descriptive, like this magnificent passage describing Clarissa’s daughter Elizabeth’s ride on an omnibus:

“A puff of wind (in spite of the heat, there was quite a wind) blew a thin black veil over the sun and over the Strand. The faces faded; the omnibuses suddenly lost their glow. For although the clouds were of mountainous white so that one could fancy hacking hard chips off with a hatchet, with broad golden slopes, lawns of celestial pleasure gardens, on their flanks, and had all the appearance of settled habitations assembled for the conference of gods above the world, there was a perpetual movement among them. Signs were interchanged, when, as if to fulfil some scheme arranged already, now a summit dwindled, now a whole block of pyramidal size which had kept its station inalterably advanced into the midst or gravely led the procession to fresh anchorage. Fixed though they seemed to their posts, at rest in perfect unanimity, nothing could be fresher, freer, more sensitive superficially than the snow-white or gold-kindled surface; to change, to go, to dismantle the solemn assemblage was immediately possible; and in spite of the grave fixity, the accumulated robustness and solidity, now they struck light to the earth, now darkness.”

There are some philosophic gems in here as well. At one point in his novel long musing on life, we get this from Peter:

"The compensation of growing old, Peter Walsh thought, coming out of Regent's Park, and holding his hat in hand, was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained--at last--the power which adds the supreme flavour to existence,--the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light."

More Virginia Woolf is definitely in my future. Maybe “To the Lighthouse” next. ( )
  jveezer | Aug 14, 2015 |
One learns in special relativity of the absolute elsewhere - that region outside past occurrences and also outside of future occurrences. One feels that the consciousnesses of various characters of Mrs. Dalloway to be absolutely exclusive of each other: specifically here I mean those of Septimus Warren Smith - a minor character suffering from madness which had its origins in the Great War - and Mrs. Dalloway herself. That these two universes should actually intersect is the great miracle of this very idiosyncratic novel.

With their sudden tangents, nested phrases, and occasional trop de longueur, its sentences remind one of Henry James’s. But here, the effect is more stream of consciousness, because we follow the fears and memories and self-doubt of the eponymous heroine, her most intimate associate, Peter, and the harrowing delusions of a suffering war veteran. Taken together, these thoughts and feelings cut for us a cross-section of post-World War I England and hold it up for inspection. The author is rather pitiless with her subjects: she knows the fear and doubt which undercut the lives and level the emotional landscape of 1920s London.

It is the great democratizer: Mrs. Dalloway herself suffers from doubts and terrors show her surprising affinity for those less fortunate:

“Then (she had felt it only this morning) there was the terror; the overwhelming incapacity, one’s parents giving it into one’s hands, this life, to be lived to the end, to be walked with serenely; there was in the depths of her heart an awful fear. Even now, quite often if [her husband] Richard had not been there reading the Times, so that she could crouch like a bird and gradually revive, send roaring up that immeasurable delight, rubbing stick to stick, one thing with another, she must have perished. But that young man had killed himself.”

The last sentence refers to Septimus, whom we encounter at abrupt moments through the book, who panics in the face of the medical establishment and leaps to his death. How does Mrs. Dalloway hear of his demise? At her party the evening of that fateful day, when the distinguished Doctor’s wife tells her of it.

This episode, which Mrs. Dalloway hears second-hand, affects her deeply. It generates a terror which she must suppress so that she can play hostess at a glittering party. And so: personal histories will trail behind us and ensnare us in the end. Woolf shows us this truth: it crosses class lines, lines of sex and social position. At length she portrays London poised on a precipice, holding Mrs. Dalloway in its arms with everyone else, ready to plunge into an epic, swallowing darkness.

This is a very effective psychological novel, with its close, sometimes disjointed retelling of the terror and delusion that we feel. The author manages all this with a careful, almost fussy, diction that nevertheless results in a kind of bluntness. The hurt feelings, the desperate hopes, the entrenched animosities, all see the light of day. It’s a distinctive achievement, memorable and affecting, and I’m certainly glad to have made Miss Woolf’s acquaintance.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2015/08/mrs-dalloway-by-virginia-woolf_11.htm... ( )
  LukeS | Aug 11, 2015 |
Mrs. Dalloway is easily my favorite Virginia Woolf I've read so far. It all takes place on one June day in 1923, starting with 50ish Clarissa Dalloway preparing to give a party that night. An old unconventional flame, Peter Walsh, appears in town, and she reminisces about her younger life and her thirty year marriage to staid, reliable Richard Dalloway. She also remembers her passionate friendship with rebellious Sally Seton, with whom she shared a kiss. The second major storyline involves a shell-shocked WWI veteran, Septimus Smith, who has lost the ability to feel emotion, and is becoming delusional. There are many other well-drawn characters. Clarissa's party brings most of the principal characters together, and illuminates various dissatisfactions and shortcomings they have, even as the party seems to be a cacophonous success. Beautifully written, with skillful weaving of different time elements, and a bevy of characters the reader understands and develops strong feelings about. Reminded me a bit of Joyce's famous short story, "The Dead", but I liked this much more. ( )
3 vote jnwelch | Aug 10, 2015 |
Boring! That is my description of this Virginia Woolf story in one word. It chronicles a day in the life of Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway with a few flashbacks to the past. It is written with a stream of consciousness technique. There are no chapters. There was only one blank line break in the entire book, presumably in the place which separated the two short stories from which the book was written. I wanted to abandon the book early on, but I forced myself to continue reading it since Woolf was one of the authors for the British Author Challenge this month. I wish that To The Lighthouse had been on the shelves at the library because after reading this one, I'm not going to be inclined to give it a try. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jul 13, 2015 |
The story itself wasn't really my taste. There was too much snobbery on the part of Mrs. Dalloway. There were other characters which were much more interesting like Septimus and his post trauma from the war or the stories from the servants, teacher and shopkeepers which I liked more.
What I was really fascinated was the language. It is very detailed and as a reader/listener one got the feeling to be a part of the story as an observer. ( )
  Ameise1 | Jul 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)

Among Mrs. Woolf's contemporaries, there are not a few who have brought to the traditional forms of fiction, and the stated modes of writing, idioms which cannot but enlarge the resources of speech and the uses of narrative. Virginia Woolf is almost alone, however, in the intricate yet clear art of her composition. Clarissa's day, the impressions she gives and receives, the memories and recognitions which stir in her, the events which are initiated remotely and engineered almost to touching distance of the impervious Clarissa, capture in a definitive matrix the drift of thought and feeling in a period, the point of view of a class, and seem almost to indicate the strength and weakness of an entire civilization.
 

» Add other authors (54 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, VanessaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brunt, NiniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cunningham, ValentineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duffy, Carol AnnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hämäläinen, KyllikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, MaureenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalero, AlessandraTranslatorsecondary 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.
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"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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156628708, Paperback)

As 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.

Woolf then explores the relationships between women and men, and between women, as Clarissa muses, "It was something central which permeated; something warm which broke up surfaces and rippled the cold contact of man and woman, or of women together.... Her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not that, after all, been love?" While Clarissa is transported to past afternoons with Sally, and as she sits mending her green dress, Warren Smith catapults desperately into his delusions. Although his troubles form a tangent to Clarissa's web, they undeniably touch it, and the strands connecting all these characters draw tighter as evening deepens. As she immerses us in each inner life, Virginia Woolf offers exquisite, painful images of the past bleeding into the present, of desire overwhelmed by society's demands. --Joannie Kervran Stangeland

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:14 -0400)

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Depicts the events, thoughts, and actions of a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway.

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3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182490, 0141198508, 024195679X

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Editions: 1909438014, 1909438022

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