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The Hours

by Michael Cunningham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,223204415 (3.92)519
Intertwines the stories of three women linked by their relationship to Virginia Woolf's 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway: Woolf herself, in the throes of writing Mrs. Dalloway and contemplating suicide; Laura, a young wife and mother suffocating in the confines of her tidy life in Los Angeles in 1949; and Clarissa, who is giving a party in the present in New York City for her closest friend, Richard, a writer dying of AIDS.… (more)
  1. 122
    Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (twomoredays, TammyMarshall)
    twomoredays: If you don't read Mrs. Dalloway before The Hours, I suspect it wouldn't be nearly as fulfilling a reading experience.
    TammyMarshall: It gives you a much fuller appreciation of what Cunningham accomplished with his wonderful novel, "The Hours."
  2. 20
    Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Cunningham is constantly referencing Prufrock. If you haven't read it, you should
  3. 10
    The Hours [2002 film] by Stephen Daldry (TheLittlePhrase)
  4. 00
    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (sturlington)
  5. 00
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (sturlington)
  6. 00
    Ohio Angels by Harriet Scott Chessman (Miels)
  7. 11
    Five Bells by Gail Jones (fountainoverflows)
  8. 01
    John Cheever: Collected Stories and Other Writings (Library of America, No. 188) by John Cheever (Cecilturtle)
1990s (80)
My TBR (15)
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» See also 519 mentions

English (190)  Dutch (4)  German (3)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 190 (next | show all)
This is one of those books that was so brilliantly written, so brimming with self knowledge and insight, so complete in its execution, that it actually overwhelms you at first, before you take a deep breath, maybe sleep on it, and let it sink in a little before flicking through a second time. It is at once a celebration of life, and a celebration of death. It is filled with the idea that meaning and beauty reside in the moment and in the mundane. It is a celebration of the ordinary and the everyday. It is very much a realist novel, but modernist in its approach, whilst remaining a relatively easy read. It brought meaning out in Mrs Dalloway (which I strongly recommend reading first), elucidating its conception, it's impetus, through the story of its author Virginia Woolf. This is one of those books whose nourishment cannot be exhausted upon first consumption, it will stay on my bookshelf and be snacked on for a long time.
I will definitely be seeking out further work from this author.
( )
  NickCosta | Jun 17, 2020 |
One of the best novels I've ever read. At first, I was convinced Cunningham was giving us a feminist commentary. Then, I assumed this was merely an attempt to invoke the spirit of Virginia Woolf. Oh, but it is all of those things and so much more. That is the mark of a truly great work. It seems to me that Cunningham is working through all the same neurosis associated with death that Heller does in Catch-22, with the exception that Cunningham's denouement ("the hours") suggests that the paradox of human life (and death) is its beauty and its horror. ( )
  TheaJean | Jun 2, 2020 |
This is the story of three women, each a generation apart, told over one day in their lives. One of the threads tells the story of Clarissa Vaughn who is hosting a party for her award-winning poet-friend Richard who is suffering from the ravages of AIDS. Around fifty years earlier, Laura Brown is an American housewife and young mother who over the course of her day spends some of it reading Mrs Dalloway hoping to escape domestic drudgery in the pages of the book. The third main character of the book is the troubled author, Virginia Woolf and it is set on the day that she begins to write Mrs Dalloway.

It is a clever idea linking the three stories all intertwined together with the common link of the book Mrs Dalloway. Picking up on details of their lives, Clarissa shopping for flowers for Richard, Laura wanting to stay in bed rather than face the stark realities of that day and Virginia avoid eating to spend time alone and writing. He picks up on their fears and insecurities as well as the small victories they pass through the day.

I have read one of his other books previously, Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown, and really liked it. This had been recommended to me via a friend on Twitter and managed to get hold of a copy, so I’d thought I’d give it a go. However, even though the writing is quite special, especially one particular moment that is one of the key points of the book, it really didn’t work for me. Not sure why, possibly because the link between the three characters is gossamer thin, but I think it might have been because of the Woolf connection. The only book of hers that I have read before, To The Lighthouse, I could not get along with and so it seems with this one. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Reads like imitation Virginia Woolf... Virginia Woolf lite, if you will. Not so hard to read, not so stream of consciousness, but also, not nearly so dense, rewarding and original- no longer surprising.

Various places seemed to be summarizing the ideas from Woolf's life and work, reproducing them in a modernized, simplified, sensationalized way- and I don't mean the parts with her in them. The similarity between the thoughts of the three women began to bore heartily after a while- life is beautiful, life is bleak, we get it already. Endless repetition, self-consciously modernist, almost cutesy in places, trying to avoid seeming to imitate the cheap tricks of the genre novel.

The movie, in a way, is better- Cunningham may have hoped to imitate Woolf in conveying the deep and shifting truths of a series of characters in a minimalist number of pages, but his prose style isn't dense enough, and resorts to infodump in the last chapter in a surprising 'plot twist' which did not seem relevant enough to excite the reader. The movie at least has real people, and you can read in their expressions the thoughts that aren't quite adequately conveyed in the book. If The Hours is meant to be a novel about how these three women are similar, it has failed- if it means to be about how they are the SAME, well, that's all right then, but boring for the reader. In addition, the Mrs. Dalloway conceit was not fully enough explored, and splices from the actual Woolf text merely serve to highlight the inadequacy of Cunningham's loose prose.

I will admit, that aside, that some aspects of the novel, particularly in Clarissa Vaughan's case, were beautiful, and I enjoyed that particular set of characters and Clarissa in particular very much.The death was exceedingly well written and well conveyed- I just wished I could have gotten to know the characters better before that. Perhaps the section from Sally's point of view could have been omitted in favor of more time with Richard.
( )
  being_b | Jan 8, 2020 |
Damn this was well written. I saw the movie multiple times, and loved it, but now I can say the book was better. The writing style is distinctive and lush, and I had to reread many sentences multiple times to fully appreciate the language. I have to go read more Michael Cunningham now, and watch the movie again. ( )
  Gittel | Jan 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 190 (next | show all)
Cunningham gives you every chance to hear his echoes of Woolf's style: the whimsical similes, the rueful parentheses, the luminous circumstantial detail. And the narrative method is a homage to Woolf's novel. Each section imitates Mrs Dalloway by being restricted to the events of a single day, and follows the stream of one consciousness, only to leave it, for a sentence or a paragraph, for another....Imitation is fitting because Woolf's original novel was trying to do justice to the sharpness of new experience, even as it detonates old memories, and this endeavour is always worth trying afresh.
added by KayCliff | editThe Guardian, John Mullan (Jun 24, 2011)
 
We don't have to read ''Mrs. Dalloway'' before we can read ''The Hours,'' and no amount of pedantic comparison-hunting will help us understand it if we don't understand it already. But the connections between the two books, after the initial, perhaps overelaborate laying out of repetitions and divergences, are so rich and subtle and offbeat that not to read ''Mrs. Dalloway'' after we've read ''The Hours'' seems like a horrible denial of a readily available pleasure -- as if we were to leave a concert just when the variations were getting interesting.
 

» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cunningham, Michaelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goddijn, ServaasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodge, PatriciaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
We'll hunt for a third tiger now, but like the others this one too will be a form of what I dream, a structure of words, and not the flesh and bone tiger that beyond all myths paces the earth. I know these things quite well, yet nonetheless some force keeps driving me in the vague, unreasonable, and ancient quest, and I go on pursuing through the hours another tiger, the beast not found in verse.
- J.L. Borges, The Other Tiger, 1960
I have no time to describe my plans. I should say a good deal about The Hours, and my discovery; how I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters; I think that gives exactly what I want; humanity, humour, depth. The idea is that the caves shall connect, and each comes to daylight at the present moment.
- Virginia Wolf, in her diary, August 30, 1923
Dedication
This book is for Ken Corbett
First words
Sie hastet aus dem Haus, wirft einen für die Witterung zu schweren Mantel über: 1941.
She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather. It is 1941.
Quotations
"We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep–it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
Heaven only knows why we love it so."
What a thrill, what a shock, to be alive on a morning in June, prosperous, almost scandalously privileged, with a simple errand to run.
It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later, to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experience lay in a kiss and a walk, the anticipation of dinner and a book...What lives undimmed in Clarissa's mind more than three decades later is a kiss at dusk on a patch of dead grass, and a walk around a pond as mosquitoes droned in the darkening air. There is still that singular perfection, and it's perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other.
Clarissa dislikes arrangements. She prefers flowers to look as if they've just arrived, in armloads, from the fields.
Virginia thinks of Leonard frowning over the proofs, intent on scouring away not only the setting errors but whatever taint of mediocrity errors imply.
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Book description
The book concerns three generations of women affected by a Virginia Woolf novel. The first is Woolf herself writing Mrs. Dalloway in 1923 and struggling with her own mental illness. The second is Mrs. Brown, wife of a World War II veteran, who is reading Mrs. Dalloway in 1949 as she plans her husband's birthday party. The third is Clarissa Vaughan, a lesbian, who plans a party in 1998 to celebrate a major literary award received by her good friend and former lover, the poet Richard, who is dying of AIDS. The situations of all three characters mirror situations experienced by Woolf's Clarissa Dalloway in 'Mrs. Dalloway', with Clarissa Vaughn being a very literal modern-day version of Woolf's character.
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Cunningham, Michael, 1952-.
Οι ώρες / Μάικλ Κάνιγχαμ · μετάφραση Λύο Καλοβυρνάς. - Αθήνα : Εκδόσεις Πεδίο, 2020. - 263σ. · 21x14εκ.
Ειδική έκδοση για την εφημερίδα ΤΟ ΕΘΝΟΣ, κυκλοφόρησε 2.8.2020.
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Επανέκδοση της έκδοσης του ΛΙΒΑΝΗ 2000.
Γλώσσα πρωτοτύπου: αγγλικά
Τίτλος πρωτοτύπου: The Hours
ISBN-13 978-960-635-276-8 (Μαλακό εξώφυλλο), [Εκτός Εμπορίου]
813.54
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