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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel to lose yourself in
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...
Published on 10 Feb. 2011 by M.B.

versus
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsure...
Having finished `Mrs Dalloway', I was left unsure whether I actually enjoyed the book. I can clearly see why it has received so much praise as Woolf's excellent use of language truly envelopes you in the psyche of Clarissa Dalloway and the thought processes of her other dramatic devices, particularly the visionary Septimus. However I was, as I am sure Woolf intended,...
Published on 12 July 2008 by H.J.P.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish Prose Gaudily Frames a Day-Long Character Study Emphasizing Self Talk, 11 Aug. 2010
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Audio Cassette)
"Wealth makes many friends,
But the poor is separated from his friend." -- Proverbs 19:4 (NKJV)

Think of Mrs. Dalloway as being the anti-Ulysses (the James Joyce's masterpiece). The concepts for the novels are similar, but the styles are polar opposites. I recommend becoming familiar with both works in order to appreciate the different ways that character studies can be developed during a day by relying extensively on thought life. Both are brilliant, but in much different ways.

Mrs. Dalloway is English, delicate, fussy, ornate, and feminine. Ulysses is Irish, crude, unrestrained, common, and masculine.

What stands out the most about Mrs. Dalloway are the many original descriptive sentences and phrases that look as though they went through 200 rewritings to be so polished and complete. Their expressions overwhelm the story at time because the reader is left gasping at a stunning turn of phrase or an idea. In writing, you can sit and admire and forget to read on.

A blessing of listening to the excellent reading by Virginia Leishman is that the brilliant writing is better integrated into the story by forcing you to keep going. I enjoyed the experience. I don't want to discourage you from reading the book first, but I believe you will appreciate the overall craft more if you listen before reading. It's the same advice I provide for William Faulkner's books. There's a beauty in the oral expression that is otherwise lost.

I found the story to feel a little dated. I also found myself not being terribly engaged by Mrs. Dalloway or her husband. That's a pretty big problem to have when listening to or reading a novel. Someone today who wrote historical fiction about this period would do it differently.

Naturally, if I were only rating the marvelous ornate writing, this would be five stars. Most writers can only sit back in awe of such writing. On my best day, I wouldn't be worthy of holding a candle for Virginia Woolf.

Enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sensitive study of two people in one day-in-the-life, 15 Feb. 2003
Being no fan of stream of conscious style I didn't expect to like MD. I was pleasantly surprised though as Woolf, unlike many writers such as James Joyce who use stream of conscious to ramble the reader into unconsciousness, Woolf uses this mechanism to add to her characters and not as a means in itself.
Clarissa Dalloway and friend Septimus Smith go about their daily life getting ready for the Dalloway's party. In this humdrum life many of their issues are brought to the surface and we see them either pushing them back down to concentrate on the present or challenging them head on.
Woolf's portrayal of Clarissa as a sensitive yet strong woman is her subtle link to her feminist non-fiction. Clarissa is no unopinionated or invisible Edwardian woman but is restricted by the times and social conventions she lives in.
Even though in one day of Clarissa's life she remains in exactly the same place she started from the book feels in no way incomplete- we have learnt about Clarissa and Septimus- their lives and thoughts- and this is where the novel has it's real meaning. At around two hundred and fifty pages the story is neither too long nor short and gives the reader a perfect amount of time to absorb themselves into the individuals lives.
Perhaps as "real" as any book has ever been (and especially one of Edwardian times) MD tells about ordinary life and its internal struggles kept under an everyday veneer.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The treatment of female identity, 31 July 2005
This review is from: Mrs Dalloway (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Although people often see Virginia Woolf's novels as being somewhat of a 'required taste,' Mrs Dalloway is a beautiful exploration of female identity. Clarissa Dalloway is a character who all readers can identify with as she slips in and out of happiness, sadness, regret, anger, pain and love.
Throughout the novel, Clarissa's constant shift between happiness and great sadness, is something which can also be found when we turn to is Septimus, a character whom can be defined as a counterpoint to Mrs Dalloway's character. Woolf's clever playing of gender, enables her to unite both gender and class together in a period were both operated seperated spheres.
Although Mrs Dalloway was written just after the first world war, a period in which both the suffragette movement and women themselves were beginning to challenge the inequalities which were in place, Woolf explores how difficult it was in trying to achieve an egalitarian society because the notion that women should remain 'subject of man' so engrained within twentieth Century culture. However, whilst Mrs Dalloway appears to remain chained to unreserved moral and social purity, there are times within the novel when she challenges male power. For example, when she learns of her husband dining 'without her' with Lady Bruton, she takes to the confinement of her bedroom where she does what we can interpret as masturbation. Through this act, Woolf is not only able to break down the gender divisions which were in place between men and women since 'it was assumed that women could have no equal share in sexual enjoyment,' but her writing style also enables her readers a deeper insight into the complex identity of Mrs Dalloway. For example, whilst on one level her masturbating functions as tool through which she can undermine her husbands authority of them having a celibate marriage, reinforced through his insistence that they slept in separate beds, but the act is also a celebration of female identity and sexual liberation.
Although Woolf controls her readers reactions towards Mrs Dalloway's identity, great sympathy is evoked for her considering how she 'inscribes and hides' her own desires and ambitions and forms in 'her own mind' an 'idea of' what she feels Richard would find attractive in a wife. The depiction of her bed as 'narrow' and 'undisturbed' suggests that her marriage, dreams, happiness and sense of self are all dead since 'narrow' and 'undisturbed' has connotations of death as a corpse lies undisturbed.

Mrs Dalloway really is one of Woolf's greatest masterpieces!!! Her articulate writing style not only affords the reader an insight into how women were forced to suppress their identities, dreams and aspirations and but it also highlights how they were conditioned into not to looking beyond the role prescribed for them by society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Written But What Characters!!, 14 Jan. 2010
`Mrs Dalloway' is the story of a single day in London through the eyes of several people. I know all the synopses say that it's just through one woman but actually there are three main characters, or I felt there were. For Clarissa Dalloway wife of the Prime Minister it is a very important day as she is throwing a party. Peter Walsh has just arrived back from India and has decided to visit Clarissa the woman he was once deeply enamoured with. The other character is Septimus who passes both Peter and Clarissa in the morning in separate spots after having announced to his wife he wants to kill himself. Through these three people we see how one day can differ so much for three separate people.

Also Virginia Woolf takes us into the minds of people that these three characters pass by. So what you get is one day with three main tales that intertwine and then random thoughts as they pass. To write like this in such a short book is quite some feat and I think it's remarkably done. However respecting that someone has written something clever, unusual and interesting doesn't mean that I actually liked the book and sadly I wasn't a huge fan. I found all of the characters bar Septimus quite dull and one dimensional. I did find the passages about Septimus and the way his mind was working utterly fascinating and that and Clarissa looking back on her past and the love she felt for Sally Seton which again was written perfectly. Bar that slightly interesting point I found Clarissa needed a bit of a `good wake up shake' and really I would have liked to have sympathised with her instead of just thinking `get a grip'. I am sure I will be outraging many Woolfites saying that, but it's the truth. I will read more Woolf as her writing was wonderful, it was just the characters I couldnt get to grips with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid contribution to the development of the novel, 6 Jan. 2010
By 
E. Darzi "Literary Explorer" (Guildford Surrey UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Propelled by Woolf's razor-sharp style, the novel contrasts the outer appearances and the inner feelings experienced by Mrs. Dalloway, a lady of position in society. Flashes of memory are triggered by the preparations for a party she is giving that day. The text employs contrasts, such as between appearances and inner feelings. She muses on a variety of present-day issues, all interconnected by a general atmosphere of burgeoning inertia, deficiencies and helplessness. The novel is fragmented, past mixed with present, fact with speculation, certainty with doubt, jumping between times, places and characters. It is as though the novel has assumed the role of baring the characters' psyches. Clarissa is as multi-segmented as the rainbow, such as her frigidity, induced by the latency of her lesbianism, at once with her warmth in her role as a hostess. In spite of these contradictions, Woolf's most impressive achievement is to allow her heroine, with her high social standing, no aura of mythology retouching her personality, making it look perfect, which would have distanced her from others as with earlier, more formal authors. This makes Mrs. Dalloway believable as an ordinary human being. At the same time, and from a separate vista, she is contrasted with a parallel character, Septimus Warren Smith, who slides into mental illness then suicide, unlike Mrs. Dalloway the survivor. He suffers from delusions and episodic breakdowns not unlike those experienced by Virginia herself in the war years. It is through this character that Woolf enables the depth and the contrast that opposites running together can provide.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bradshaw scores again!, 7 Jun. 2001
Wow, that Bradshaw knows how to write an introduction. The novel is of course a masterpiece, but everyone literate knew that already. One buys THIS edition for the introduction and the notes. Bradshaw writes like a duck on elastic. And so cheap too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance?, 26 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Mrs Dalloway (Kindle Edition)
I find review comments about "wonderful prose" rather puzzling - yes there are some excellent passages but often one really effective simile is followed by two or three others which are poor. The whole effect is of an author over-writing through trying self-consciously to be "literary", which leaves the reader with a feeling of disengagement. Other parts simply don't ring true - even in the 1920s, it seems incredible that London would grind to a halt because of the presence of a car in which there may, or may not, be a member of royalty. Again there is the impression of a writer striving for effect rather than narrative truth.

The other problem with the book is that the central character is neither interesting nor particularly likeable. Somewhat curiously, Woolf seems rather better at conveying the thoughts of her male characters (particularly Peter Walsh) than of the females.

I'm still glad I read this as a famous example of the stream of consciousness style. However, I'm left wondering if Woolf is not rather over-rated and it didn't leave me rushing to try any of her other books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dated, experimental writing, and, worst of all, boring., 18 Sept. 2013
By 
Philip Mayo - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Mrs Dalloway (Kindle Edition)
I read this in preparation for reading "The Hours", by Michael Cunningham, of which the reviews suggested that the two novels were inextricably linked and that while it was not necessary to read Mrs Dalloway first that it was certainly no disadvantage to be familiar with it.

So what do I think? I think that this was probably quite a unique style of writing for 1925, even quite experimental. The novel is set in one day and uses a stream of consciousness style of writing (the author's rather than the characters', in my opinion) to relate the many threads of the story. It is without question the product of a highly intelligent mind.

Did I like it ? - No, I did not. It seems overly self-indulgent.

Would it sell today? Not to me.

So, my verdict - dated, experimental, intelligent writing - implausible and - the ultimate sin - boring.
Lets hope that The Hours is not too similar.

(P.S. I read The Hours since I wrote the above. It is superb, beautiful, exquisite writing! And yes, I agree it's probably useful, but not vital, to read Mrs Dalloway first.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introspective and considerate, funny, 20 Jun. 2010
Well....nothing much happens, but that doesn't matter. Woolf's legendary stream of consciousness style of 'prose poetry' is not going to appeal to everyone, but I loved it. I smiled at all the loving references to London landmarks, and was uplifted and saddened in turns by each character's perspective on life and indeed, living. Wonderful, and very English.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a surprisingly enjoyable read, 29 Feb. 2000
By 
lazza (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) - See all my reviews
I was given Mrs. Dalloway by a feminist friend who adores Virginia Woolf. Not having read anything by Mrs. Woolf I thought I would give it a try. I expected incomprehensible verse ala Henry James or DH Lawrence. Thankfully my expectations were completely wrong!
Mrs. Dalloway is the first novel I've read where the author captures the thought process of its major characters. One thought leads to another, and so on, as it happens with us all. So the flow is text is not a straight narrative but rather a series of bouncy chains of thought which, unless read largely in one sitting, can appear to be totally random ... and unenjoyable to read. However if one dives into this novel and accepts Mrs. Woolf's fluid style one really appreciates her achievement. It's hard to believe that this novel encapsulates one day in the life of Mrs. Dalloway. Nothing too terribly exciting happens, but this was never intended to be an action novel. Even on an emotional level Mrs Dalloway is rather smooth flowing.
So if you prefer novels of a more traditional style, or novels with less subtlety, look elsewhere.
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Mrs Dalloway (Vintage Classics)
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