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Mrs Dalloway (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Virginia Woolf , David Bradshaw
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)

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Mrs Dalloway (Oxford World's Classics) Mrs Dalloway (Oxford World's Classics) 3.8 out of 5 stars (106)
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Book Description

4 May 2000 Oxford World's Classics
'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 is young, poor, and driven to hatred of himself and the whole human race. Yet both share a terror of existence, and sense the pull of death. The world of Mrs Dalloway is evoked in Woolf's famous stream of consciousness style, in a lyrical and haunting language which has made this, from its publication in 1925, one of her most popular novels.

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Mrs Dalloway (Oxford World's Classics) + To the Lighthouse (Wordsworth Classics) + A Room of One's Own & The Voyage Out (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (4 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192839705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192839701
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 11.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 496,233 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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Modernist Writing 1 Feb 2009
Mrs Dalloway is critically regarded as one of the quintessential exemplars of both stream-of-consciousness writing and the ethos of the Modernist era. Stylistically stunning, the innovative narrative follows a day in the life of protagonist Clarissa Dalloway, an aristocratic socialite struggling to find meaning and contentment in post-war London. Juxtaposed with her, Septimus Warren Smith, a shell-shocked combatant attempting to readjust to life after war, struggling with the difficulties of a fractured mind and a creeping madness which threatens to destroy him.

The narrative voice flits effortlessly between the many characters, blending their thoughts, memories and perceptions in order to provide an insight into the psychological processes of a disillusioned generation attempting to restore normality after fundamental assumptions about reality and human nature have been shattered by conflict.

This is a beautifully crafted novel, a deceptively quick and easy read despite the rich narrative structure and content, and a must-read for all those interested in Modernist literature.

Everyone will enjoy this book: for its characters, its story and its vivid descriptions of post-war London. Moreover, for Modernist scholars it provides an exquisite example of the narrative innovation which characterises early 20th century writing.
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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A touching, haunting example of literary genius. 16 Dec 2002
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
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel to lose yourself in 10 Feb 2011
By M.B.
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It was everything I expected a classic to be. ...
It was everything I expected a classic to be. Written in the first person adds an interesting dimension to the read. Some of the descriptive writing is breathtaking. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Alison
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance by Woolf
Woolf's representation of post war London is enthralling. The modernist style she pioneers is a creation of genius; a simply stunning redesign of the traditional novel style. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Euan Hammond
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting article on writing and literature by Virginia Woolf, ...
Interesting article on writing and literature by Virginia Woolf, originally written for an adress she gave. Its quite short and a very quick but thought provoking read. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Ms. P. A. Coombes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awe-inspiring brilliance
Published 17 days ago by Mr. Edward Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great bargain, great story, great for any one interested in studying or further exploring the text in fine detail.
Published 19 days ago by ms rush
1.0 out of 5 stars not an easy read
I found this a very difficult read. Pleased I stuck with it to the end but would not recommend to other reades
Published 19 days ago by Robert thrower
5.0 out of 5 stars fab
Fab u lous.
Seven teen more words need ed, about Mrs Dall o way, sup re flo us I think
Published 25 days ago by MR TIM GREENWOOD
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 27 days ago by Glenn
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Trying hard to understand this section of society at that particular time without getting irritated.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. J.M.Ackland
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard work- but worth it
This book requires great concentration, but it is worth it. The writer's style is taut, using elaborate vocabulary to detail the happenings on one day in 1923. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hugh Sedon
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