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Mrs. Dalloway
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2004
Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" is perhaps my favorite novel. As simple as it is intricate, she provides a seemingly endless number of new insights and observations that I discover with each reading. Her ability to create the voice inside of a situation is clean, being touching and moving without being sentimental.
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It's not really fair to judge this book or its author by today's standards, but damn, this is a hard read. I'd read it about 20 years ago and recall struggling with the endless sentences and the rambling explorations of Mrs. Dalloway's interior thoughts, her every little fleeting idea, and the tiny events of the day in her life which this book chronicles.
Then of course when The Hours was published, I rummaged around in the bookshelf, found it, and read it again.
And then the movie came out with that wonderful cast of characters, and, well, I had to read it a third time. And I'll say this: it takes more than a single reading to harvest all the gems from this dense prose. Mrs. Dalloway grew on me with the passage of time and with three careful readings. The studied explorations into past and present, men and women, women and other women, society and the family, love and regret...it's a lot to take on in what is really a pretty small book - and only someone of Woolf's talents and brilliance could have made so much of so little.
Highly recommended, but I'm sorry - you'll probably have to read it more than once to extract every single little diamond chip.
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on December 30, 2003
like many people i got to this book after seeing and later on reading "the hours". i was pretty indimedated at first, knowing that this is almost a mythologicly difficult book to read, but i have to say that once opening this book, i could barely put it down, it draws you in from the first second and stays with you trough, as it leads you through a soul search and revelation.
this is a story of several charecter throughout one day, which tend to be a day in which all either have importent disocveries or life changes events. it talks about a lot of big issues, such as the world war, classes in england, madness, womanhood and masculinty and how we iteract with those turms, the obligation to oneself Vs. the obligation to societly, old age and growing up and so on. it's amazing to see how all dilemas those are delt with without loosing the tread of the story and the events of the day.
personaly, the most interesting parts for me were the one duelt with spesimus, a young PTSD soldier who's gettingmore and more ill as the day advance, verginia woolf's own experience with deppression and madness deffenetly shows in this book, it made me realate to the book very emotionaly from that angle.
stream of consciusness type of writing's offen very confusing and demanding, and while in other books i couln't quite relate to it, in this book, i think i finelly got the idea behind it. it's a very deep book, one of the greatest books of modern times for sure.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2003
Since i am an author im sensitive to the fact that Well i think some of you neglected a few things. For those of you who dont read biographies of the greats hers a quickie. Virinia woolf was a self published author, indeed she was a disturbed woman and had a unque and disturbing childhood. If your doubting the application of this to her writing dont as every writer and critic knows everything is applicable to art. This is indeed a unique work and she is listed as a great and in my opinion of the greats and most recent next to joyce hemingway and updike (forgive me but i will throw mr king in to lol) This may not be a read for you recreational comtemporary fans of simplistic fast past arbitrary fiction but its indeed a masterpiece and she did well. Its a shame we lost her to suicide.
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on September 4, 2003
Since i am an author im sensitive to the fact that Well i think some of you neglected a few things. For those of you who dont read biographies of the greats hers a quickie. Virinia woolf was a self published author, indeed she was a disturbed woman and had a unque and disturbing childhood. If your doubting the application of this to her writing dont as every writer and critic knows everything is applicable to art. This is indeed a unique work and she is listed as a great and in my opinion of the greats and most recent next to joyce hemingway and updike (forgive me but i will throw mr king in to lol) This may not be a read for you recreational comtemporary fans of simplistic fast past arbitrary fiction but its indeed a masterpiece and she did well. Its a shame we lost her to suicide.
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on September 4, 2003
As soon as I finished MRS. DALLOWAY the first time, I picked it back up and read it straight through again because I couldn't believe how good it was: how funny at times, how tragic at others, how vividly and sharply the characters are drawn. All of the figures in the book "revolve" around Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway; they are, in some way, connected to her.
Septimus Smith, for example, is encountered "by accident" by Clarissa, and he becomes the book's tragic, highly emotional center, just as she is the novel's still, unemotional center. He is a veteran--and victim--of WWI, which has left him shell-shocked. He retreats into himself due to his increasing madness, just as Mrs. Dalloway has retreated into herself by keeping her emotional attachments almost non-existent due to childhood experiences.
Although very little "happens" in the book, except to Septimus, this is a very moving work of literary art. The "action" is kept intriguing because it gives us insight into the minds and emotional lives of people. We come to know so much about why the characters are the way they are that we cannot help but sympathize with and come to appreciate them. Along with this book I recommend another recent Amazon purchase, THE LOSERS' CLUB by Richard Perez
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on July 2, 2003
"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers
herself." Thus begins a very intriguing novel that
revolves around a single day in the life of Clarissa
Dalloway.
Clarissa is a good-natured woman who is throwing a
party. As the day goes on, her strong aura begins to
wear away due to small events: the surprise return of
a former admirer which recalls to her memories of a
secret kiss with a young lady years ago; her husband
being invited to lunch at Lady Bruton's without her;
Miss Kilman's unnatural attachment to her daughter
Elizabeth; and a death.
This is a beautifully written book that discusses the
relationships between men and women and serves as a
fascinating character study. Clarissa Dalloway is one
of the most invloved and interesting characters in
literature.
Highly recommended reading.
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on June 11, 2003
MRS. DALLOWAY isn't a very easy book to read, but it's ultimately well worth the time and effort you'll spend wading through its almost primordial verbiage.

Virginia Woolf was attempting something that hadn't really been done before when she wrote this vastly internal day-in-the-life study of a sickly, changeable woman whose preeminent skills are throwing parties and being 'Mrs. Dalloway.' Woolf wasn't overly fond of how James Joyce had executed his day-in-the-life tour de force, ULYSSES, so she decided to write her own, carving out in MRS. DALLOWAY a new paradigm for writing about the inner workings of mind and heart. For the most part, Woolf succeeds admirably in her journey through this literary terra nova.
MRS. DALLOWAY can be confounding and at times overtiring (it'll definitely make you want to read something "light" next) but it does cause you to have a genuine and unique human experience, which is really the reason we bother reading in the first place.
And if this one leaves you hungry for more, make sure to read Michael Cunningham's beautifully written but considerably-easier-to-read sequel/remake, THE HOURS (after spending some well earned-time poolside with your favorite summer page-turner).
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on May 12, 2003
Probably her best, and most known book, Mrs. Dalloway is by far the richest reading experience you will ever have if you choose to do yourself a favour and read it.
Virginia Woolf excels in her imagery, language, rich vocabulary, allusions, the weaving of plot - or lack of it of thereof for that matter in a manner and style that are unsurpassed. She is certainly a pioneer, a precursor for whatever she has begun with her insane sentences, and fragments and questions.
Stream of consciousness...? I don't think so, most people like to call it so, but she pops in and out of the text every now and then and she just keeps surprising you with her comments on the characters at the right time, when you are wondering, where did she go? What does it all mean?
If you are looking for a meaningful plot, and action, forget it! Nothing happens in this book, but if you are a fan of refined prose, poetic imagery, exquisite language, read it, and you won't regret it.
"The world has raised its whip; where will it descend"?
Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 25, 2003
George softly sings WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? at the end of Edward Albee's play of the same name and his sotted, beleaguered wife Martha answers " I am, George, I am.......". 1962 that was, and Albee's erudite play sent us all to the library to find out who was this Virginia Woolf. Those were college days when Woolf was known to the literati but somewhat of an interestingly enigma to the world in general. Now her century has passed and her works and life are being recognized for the importance they deserve. Re-reading MRS. DALLOWAY reinforces past college memeories of just how dazzling a thinker, poet, writer, and personality she was. In so many ways MRS. DALLOWAY could be a memoir, mirroring Woolf's personality, artistry, and her advanced inspection of same sex love, the decay of aristocracy, the thin line between memory and imagination, fantasy and reality, the loneliness of genius, desire and conscious commitment to the standards of the day. All of these issues she compresses into one June day in London - a day for the preparation of one of the parties for which Clarissa Dalloway is so well known. "Successfully" married to a politician, the mother of a 17 year old beautiful daughter, she allows her thoughts to ramble about love that could have been, mental illness that leads to suicide, brackish and acerbic words from the Lords and Ladies invited, and a lover from the past who rises like a smoldering injured phoenix, making Clarissa reevaluate internally all that has been her life.
There is story here, there are well drawn characters here, and the book can be read solely on the virtues of a novel construct. But if you want to really experience the magnificent wordsmith gifts of Virginia Woolf, then savour each page for the grace of the English language stretched into a seamless, protracted poem. This is book to read slowly, catching all the references to history as it blanketed England after WWI, when in 1923 the Bloomsbury group served as a quiet cocoon of intelligensia, when writing was an art in itself, more concerned with thoughts and ideas as words might mold them than in best selling, rapidly written and published transient pops in the vast sky of literature.
Then Martha's answer to George's/Albee's question will make so very much sense.
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