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Mrs Dalloway (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Aug 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853261912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853261916
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favourite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid.

With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938).

Her major novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). All these are published by Penguin, as are her Diaries, Volumes I-V, and selections from her essays and short stories.


Product Description

Amazon Review

Clarissa Dalloway is civilised--without the ostentation of a socialite, but with enough distinction to attract them to her parties. She finds excess offensive, but surrounds herself with the highest quality and has an abhorrence for anything ugly or awkward. Mrs. Dalloway is as much a character study as it is a commentary on the ills and benefits society gleans from class. Through Virginia Woolf, we spend a day with Clarissa as she interacts with servants, her children, her husband, and even an ex-lover. As she plans and executes one of her celebrated parties, she reveals inner machinations incongruous with her class-defined behaviors, that ultimately enable her to transcend them.

Review

"Mrs Dalloway 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)

"A beautiful piece of writing" (Will Self Guardian)

"I think To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway are sheer magic" (Eileen Atkins Daily Express)

"Virginia Woolf was one of the great innovators of that decade of literary Modernism, the 1920s. Novels such as Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse showed how experimental writing could reshape our sense of ordinary life. Taking unremarkable materials - preparations for a genteel party, a day on a bourgeois family holiday - they trace the flow of associations and ideas that we call "consciousness"." (Guardian) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 104 people found the following review helpful By "mhstephens" on 16 Dec 2002
Format: Paperback
My favourite of Woolfs novels and also, I think, the most acessable to readers new to her work. It is the least complicated example of her style and the one where her stream of conciousness achieves its best synergy with characters and plot. Two central plotlines interweave, Mrs. Dalloway fighting submerged demons below a perfect veneer, while elsewhere in London Septimus Smith is overwhelmed by his. His character as a metaphor for the struggles in her mind works very well. Woolfs prose is on wonderful form here; with a clarity and beauty rarely matched it touches the heart, while opening a Bloomsbury cavern filled with class divide and false appearance. It is a very human, humane novel with a private, fragile quality that echoes it's themes - the mind, the life and marrying the two without harm.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Feb 2002
Format: Paperback
MRS DALLOWAY
Virginia Woolf's fourth novel (1925) can be regarded as her first real approach to maturity, since she experiments with time and mingles present experience and past memories in an artistic way. Apart from the formal innovations, Woolf does not avoid the thematic challenge either: "I want to give life & death, sanity & insanity; I want to criticise the social system, & to show it at work, at its most intense", she notes in her diary.
Mrs. Dalloway is set on a single day in the middle of June in 1923, and we follow Clarissa Dalloway, the elegant wife of a Member of Parliament and perfect London hostess, through the course of this day which is going to culminate in the party she is going to give in the evening.
But there is much more to the novel than the superficial level of social activities: interwoven with the public world of post-war Britain is the female protagonist's inner life and her ambivalence about her other self - she wishes both to escape the social life and to enter it more fully; she feels both sheltered and anonymous, useful and trivial, committed and deluded.
Clarissa is looking for meaning in her life, primarily in her past, and we learn, among many other things, that she has chosen the safety of marriage to the rather ponderous Richard as opposed to the unpredictability of a life with Peter Walsh or the scandal of a relationship with a woman in order to preserve her own private self.
Virginia Woolf is interested in human personality and convicted of the right of the individual to possess and to cultivate their identity.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M.B. on 10 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
The name Virginia Woolf likely conjures the image of an important cultural figure, a significant writer, but one with an intimidating reputation. As such, readers may either stay away from her work or approach cautiously, expecting something wilfully obscure and deliberately difficult.

The truth is that, yes, Woolf's writing can be a challenge and the reason for that is mostly because it's so unique. We're used to plot- or character-driven novels, where things happen in some semblance of order, where there's narrative resolution, and often where you can dip in and out with ease. The stream-of-consciousness style that Woolf employs in "Mrs. Dalloway" (1925) shirks conventions and as a result it can be a disorientating read.

But that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable. The thing to remember with "Mrs. Dalloway" is that it is not a plot-driven novel. As other reviewers have accurately stated, this is not a page-turner, not something to marvel at all the ingenious plot twists and turns. So why read it? The main thing I took away from "Mrs. Dalloway" was how much about the interior it is, and consequently how personal and intimate it feels. It's not "Mrs. Dalloway went up the stairs and sat down." It's all about inner thoughts, inner feelings, and as such this stream-of-consciousness style works wonders. We don't think in ordered sentences most of the time; our thoughts flit from one thing to another and we set off trains of thought and memory and memory association. The same is true of the writing in "Mrs. Dalloway"; there will sometimes be unexpected interjections and abrupt changes of thought process, which mimics our real human thought process.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Aug 2001
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for a novel packed with exciting events, a story that will keep you thinking 'What'll happen next?' then this is not the book for you. "Mrs Dalloway" does not have an exhilarating plot. It is not an eventful story. Neither is it peopled with unusual characters. It is, perhaps, a medium through which you might experience a 'moment of being', the sudden revelation central to Virginia Woolf's writing at its finest.
'Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day', suggests Virginia Woolf in "The Common Reader", 'The mind receives a myriad impressions....is it not the task of the novelist to convey this?' In "Mrs Dalloway" the cause-and-effect narrative of the realist tradition is abandoned. The 'scaffolding' of the realist plot is taken down; there is 'scarcely a brick to be seen' in this critique of social convention. Instead, Woolf's reader follows an apparently random chain of external happening and thought-processes that comprise a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway.
Consider the two-page section in which Mrs Dalloway has left her long-anticipated party in search of privacy. Woolf's use of free indirect interior monologue grants the reader access to the protagonist's mind as the principal chain-of-events is halted, the narrative infused with a sort of psychoanalytical free-association, as memories of Boughton and the past merge into London and the present: 'It held...something of her own in it...this sky above Westminster'. Woolf's prose concentrates on minor events and descriptive details that are insignificant in the context of linear progression, unable to be twisted into the 'realist' tradition of a causal plot. Look at how Mrs Dalloway's thought-process is snapped by a sudden interjection ('Oh, but how surprising!
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