Mrs Dalloway (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 5 Feb 2004
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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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
A thoroughly modernist book, superbly written. Woolf engages the reader by investigating the power of an integral modernist device: the inner voice. Also, by dint of following a day in the life of various people who are simply trying to survive in the throbbing heart of the capital, the book is fast-paced and leaves the reader with the sensation that he/she is in London too. The characters are subtly and cleverly linked to one another, and the chief protagonist is intensely likeable - despite AND because of her flaws.
This book is brief, exciting, exhilirating and leaves one's head in the clouds for days afterwards. It is excellently structured and uses modernist literary methods cleverly and quietly. Very refreshing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is well written but too much prose. The story gets lost in the words.
The time period is well drawn and peoples preoccupation with appearances and station in life. Read more
Love the facility to dowmload books instantly to my Kindle Paperwhite. Haven't read this one yet but seems a very good value edition.Published 3 months ago by Ted
One of the classics that simply has not dated well. Long sentences are fine, but there is a limit, and in at least one case, an entire page without a full-stop far exceeds that... Read morePublished 4 months ago by R. A. V. Barnes
Excellent service, really pleased with this copy. A book to treasure.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
There are two stories going on simultaneously in this short novel. First we have Mrs Dalloway preparing for a party and reminiscing about her life and past love. Read morePublished 5 months ago by FictionFan