Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway

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When we meet her, Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is something much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with remembrances of faraway times. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices that brought her there, hesitantly looking ahead to the unfamiliar work of growing old.
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ISBN: 9780547662404
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Jun 21, 2019

The reader follows many characters as they go through a single day, before all except one gather at Clarissa Dalloway’s (Mrs.Dalloway’s) party. Woolf stuffed a lot of different topics into the novel, such as women’s confinement to the domestic sphere, consequences of war, death, mental illness, and LGBTQ relationships but the exploration of “distance” jumped out the most.

There are physical distance and distance in terms of time, but most importantly, there is a discordance between psychological/emotional distance and apparent intimacy. For example, Clarissa never asks where her husband Richard is, keeping a comfortable distance between her husband and herself. In fact, she rejected Peter’s proposal partly because she knew that they would not be able to keep that distance as a couple. Richard, feeling strangely threatened by Peter’s return, rushes home to tell Clarissa that he loves her but finds himself unable to do so. Septimus, suffering from PTSD from the war, sits with his wife (so they’re physically together) but is emotionally alone, as she fails to understand the root of his behavior and wallows in her own misery. By following multiple characters and being omniscient, we see this discordance.

Yet contrast not only holds for interpersonal but lao intrapersonal relationships. The characters are all busy examining themselves through (what they imagine to be) other people’s perspectives, only to become more frustrated by their hidden insecurities. They also judge others’ motives through their own biased lenses, such as when Clarissa thinks that Septimus committed suicide to keep his integrity in life, when in fact it is because she herself is struggling with that whole idea. So ironically, although there are so many characters in the novel and they are all interconnected, each feels alone, which speaks to the human condition and is especially highlighted by the novel’s setting of post-war traumatized society.

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Jun 19, 2019

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Dec 26, 2018

Recommended to me by a writing instructor. This is a profoundly intimate story in which the author both describes the characters and weaves the story entirely through their individual points of view. Taking place in a single day in post WWI London, Clarissa Dalloway prepares for a party at her home, and as the story unfolds we are witnesses to the very though processes of each character, major or minor. I needed to read each chapter twice through in order to get my head into the style of this unique novel.

Oct 29, 2018

I didn't hate this book, I didn't love this book. I found the story to be nothing special but having studied it in class this is what Woolf was going for. I don't think I personally would read it again but I see the appeal of this modern fiction book!

Oct 02, 2018

Downtowner's Read It / Watch It Selection -
Published in 1925, Mrs. Dalloway was a book ahead of its time, told within one 24 hour time period.

My heart ached for Septimus whose transformation by the war was enormous and Woolf addresses the horrors inflicted upon the soldier(s) of WWI in a forward manner painting an image of a man who would rather die than having a doctor steal his soul.

Mrs. Dalloway (Clarissa) is the main protagonist and wife of a government worker who suffers from a bit of anxiety but finds respite in her urban surroundings where she can experience the exquisite moments of life, and of course, have parties.

Elizabeth is the daughter of Clarissa and Richard Dalloway who attracts both men and women but prefers a lesbian relationship with Dori Kilman, whom Clarissa cannot stand.

Suffering is a theme throughout the book as is repression, memory, and the past. All of which are universal and of course, timeless.

DBRL_ReginaF May 19, 2018

No one will ever accuse Virginia Woolf of being gripping or action packed. I can appreciate it for what it was at the time and I'm glad I read it but I won't feel the need to reread it.

Mar 15, 2018

I stopped reading about 75 pages in. Mrs. Dalloway is planning a party and there is a man who is depressed and suicidal. That's all I was able to make out. This book had no breaks. No chapters. It went on and on and on. Dull as watching paint dry.

SPPL_Betsy Mar 14, 2018

Mrs. Dalloway is a glimpse into a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a woman preparing to host an evening party while at the same time, examining the past and present of her existence. She is overwhelmed with nostalgia after an encounter with a former suitor, and as a result, scrutinizes her marriage and the choices she has made throughout her life. The story flows from the perspective of multiple characters, each facing their own internal conflicts. The thoughts of Septimus Smith, a World War I veteran who appears to be suffering from PTSD, are particularly disturbing, but can be loosely compared to the thoughts of Clarissa; both characters fear their worlds are falling apart around them.

Fans of classic literature will likely appreciate the universal themes of love, life, and death present in Mrs. Dalloway. The in-depth, highly psychological study of characters may also appeal to fans of literary fiction. Woolf’s beautifully poetic, descriptive writing style will entice fans of both classic and literary fiction.

LiztheLibrarian Jan 25, 2018

I appreciate that Virginia Woolf will forever be in the pantheon of amazing, must read authors, however this book just didn't do it for me. I hated the stream of conscience format.

Jan 16, 2016

This is on my list of 100 Best Books by British Authors, and though I can see that it may belong there technically, I will refrain from adding it to my personal re-read collection. This book was beautifully written, but very difficult to read due to the style of writing (there are spots where you must infer which character is being followed), but mainly because some of her characters suffer mightily, and you are in danger of being pulled down with them. She has captured bleakness and despair very well. This was written only a few years before she committed suicide, and her first hand experience of suffering certainly provides an empathetic lens into the pain and turmoil her characters experience.

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