Mrs. Dalloway Mrs. Dalloway discussion


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message 1: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Garcia This book is about a British lady and her daily life, its hard to understand and kind of hard to read. Its is in the way that they talk over there so thats why its difficult


Debi No, I think it is because of the way Woolf writes. "It is an example of free indirect discourse storytelling (not stream of consciousness because this story moves between the consciousnesses of every character in a form of discourse): every scene closely tracks the momentary thoughts of a particular character." wikipedia That takes some getting use to.

It is also because she represents class distinction and the disconnect between ordinary daily life (for women and men like her) in the midst of war.
Wiki says the themes are Mental illness, Existential issues, Feminism, Homosexuality (unrecognized by Mrs. Dalloway).


Geoffrey Years ago, I started to read it but the woman was so conventional she bored me to the point of putting the book down after the first few pages.


Debi You know, I just doubt that this is a book men would enjoy. I could be wrong.


Phil I love this book, and Woolf's writing in general, and I know other men who do as well. I'm a "regular guy" (as far as I can tell), but I'm also a language junkie for whom the aesthetic pleasure of reading can compensate for an uninteresting—over even absent—plot. It's probably true that among people just looking for a good story, Mrs. Dalloway would appeal to more women than men, but it's difficult for me to see Woolf's work appealing to anyone, of either gender, unwilling to work for its rewards.


Mike Metal Aaron wrote: "This book is about a British lady and her daily life, its hard to understand and kind of hard to read. Its is in the way that they talk over there so thats why its difficult"
Actually this is one of Woolf's easier novels second only to Orlando. All stream of conciousness novels are hard to read they take time to swallow then their just as hard to digest. Woolf's does not write for the "common reader".


Mike Metal Aaron wrote: "This book is about a British lady and her daily life, its hard to understand and kind of hard to read. Its is in the way that they talk over there so thats why its difficult" I have found the book listed in stream of consciousness critique.


Ahmad I know Wikipedia says Mrs Dalloway is "not stream of consciousness because this story moves between the consciousnesses of every character in a form of discourse" but M.H.Abrams in "Glossary of Literary Terms" and the literary doyen Northrop Frye cite Mrs. D as an example of stream of consciousness. I did write an exam on it.
I guess though since we've become such sticklers for specialization, the def. of Stream of conc. has become even more exclusive but I still side with the older guys.


Ahmad It did take me about 20 pages to get into the book but after that it was quite enjoyable. Loved Woolf's insights into almost everything. What the book does miss though is sex, sex and more sex and that makes it a bit unrealistic. Barring the prudes Mrs. Dalloway and Kilman, I'm sure Walsh and Smith would have actually thought of something sexual in 24 hours. Oh well, I guess the book is a product of its not-so-liberal times.


message 10: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Metal Ahmad wrote: "It did take me about 20 pages to get into the book but after that it was quite enjoyable. Loved Woolf's insights into almost everything. What the book does miss though is sex, sex and more sex and ..."

Actualy those times were quite liberal. VW herself was a libertine as well as the entire Bloomsbury group. Sex for them was not a taboo, VW had had sex with women as well as men. It wasn't because of the times in which she lived by the time she wrote Mrs.Dalloway she could gotten away with almost everything. She wanted to focus on the emotional side of her characters without interference from sex she hints at the sexual exploits of her characters. More so she didn't want to write a realistic novel the only reality she wished to offer was that of the inner lives of her characters also speaking bluntly about sex would not be in her particular style. After all her novels are also poetic and sex is not exactly the most graceful thing to write about. For if she did choose to partake in such a matter it would have ruined the atmosphere. Let us not forget that she was above everything a modernist and a strong antivictorian.


message 11: by Ahmad (last edited Dec 31, 2011 05:12PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ahmad More specifically, the issue is being able to publish exactly what you want and not being socially ostracized in the process like D.H. Lawrence was. No era in history is as prudish as it is portrayed but intellectual cliques like the Bloomsbury Group are not accurate portrayals of the public mindset. This after all was the era of the Obscene Publications Act and although in practice, people were as sexual as they always were, sex and its portrayal in the public domain was a different matter.
Do you have a quote from Woolf on her specifically avoiding sex and only alluding to it in Mrs. D? She writes a bit of her motivation of writing in the way she does but I haven't come across a direct reference to avoiding sex. (I am studying lit at uni. so the info. is something I could use in an essay).
Sex and writing about sex isn't necessarily ungraceful. It's all a matter of how it's done. Of course if you're prudish (religious or otherwise) then all sex (and sex-related issues) are certainly in that category.
I hope you do realize that I'm not talking about full-blown scenes but rather the way sex influences behaviour and character.


message 12: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Metal Ahmad wrote: "More specifically, the issue is being able to publish exactly what you want and not being socially ostracized in the process like D.H. Lawrence was. No era in history is as prudish as it is portray..."

Well even if sex is not mentioned let us not forget that VW did write a passage in M.D. in which the two female characters kiss and also she went as far as performing a sex change in Orlando. She is that kind of writer that will never resort to anything explicitly sexual. Yes you do loosethe realism but all along she was never interested in being a realist writer she enjoyed experimenting in all of her six novels. I used deduction however if you study the way she constructs her novels you find it hard to find sex in there. Truly hard.

For instance she mentions : I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters; I think that gives exactly what I want; humanity, humour, depth. The idea is that the caves shall connect, & each comes to daylight at the present moment’ ( Jean de Gay, Virginia Woolf’s Novels and the Literary Past, Edinburgh University Press 2006, p. 84). She avoided the word sex for her only emotion is
important.
“[…]But now mystery had brushed them with her wing; they had heard the voice of authority; the spirit of religion was abroad with her eyes bandaged tight and her lips gaping wide. But nobody knew whose face had been seen. Was it the Prince of Wales’s, the Queen’s, the Prime Minister’s? Whose face was it? Nobody knew.” Now if you look at this citation from M.D. you can observe that sex is out of the question. She often uses such rhetorical questions had she mentioned sex somehow it would have taken out of the overall poetic effect. The study of literature uses intuition. In regards to the entire debate of whether or not M.D. is a stream-of-conciousness novel or not, I will post my essay in which I explain to what it is :D.


Geoffrey It's probably true that among people just looking for a good story, Mrs. Dalloway would appeal to more women than men, but it's difficult for me to see Woolf's work appealing to anyone, of either gender, unwilling to work for its rewards.

Actually I read TO THE LIGHTHOUSE and put the effort into that one, and I got my just reward. However, again, I reiterate, the Dalloway character bored me. Perhaps some day I will make a secondary attempt and will reap the benefits.


message 14: by Phil (last edited Jan 01, 2012 07:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Geoffrey wrote: "Actually I read TO THE LIGHTHOUSE and put the effort into that one, and I got my just reward. However, again, I reiterate, the Dalloway character bored me. Perhaps some day I will make a secondary attempt and will reap the benefits."

I prefer To the Lighthouse myself. I found it the most difficult of the books of hers I've read, but also one of the most rewarding.

One thing I liked that Woolf does in Mrs. Dalloway, which she also does in The Waves, is switch between the two main characters by tracing a descriptive path through the scenery, sometimes following something moving, like a bird, but other times with the perspective moving over static objects—tree branches, buildings, etc.—and relatively stationary scenes of human interaction that happen to lie along the path between Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Smith. It often gets really abstract but pulls back together as it approaches one or the other character. I love that kind of stuff.


Sharon Vintage Books & Anchor Books
“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.”
― Virginia Woolf

Happy 130th birthday to Virginia Woolf, born Adeline Virginia Stephen in London on January 25, 1882.

Loved all her books....


Bruce Amaro What a lot of bullshit. This is a period piece that is difficult unless the reader understands that Britain had just ended the First WW, its empire was changing, and it had lost a lot of young men and was in a serious depression. Without that background this is a difficult book.


Vanessa Stone I didn't think this novel was difficult. I thought it was interesting how she defined her characters through the perceptions of others, so that our understanding of the character was not based only how he or she saw himself, but how he or she was regarded by all those who had shaped his or her life. It would be easy to simplify Clarissa Dalloway, but no one is merely a product of her flaws. As Clarissa had explained to Peter Walsh, to really know her would be to know everything that she had touched and experienced because they all became a part of her and she left her imprint there.


Bruce Amaro That makes sense, but you read it more carefully than I did.


Vanessa Stone I only finished it yesterday, so perhaps it is just fresher in my memory.


Annemarie Donahue I honestly loved this book. It was one of my favorite reads in college. What I found the most interesting was the motif of "proportion". Woolf uses the books consistently throughout the novel, but over-uses it with Septimus (which I love that name, and the way she turns the idea of a unique person into just another smith!). Something neat to note as you read is what people focus on, Elizabeth (the daughter) notices city buses and articles of modernity, much like most characters, while Clarissa and Septimus notice nature. It's an interesting pairing as Septimus (spoiler alert) will kill himself, and Clarissa will return to her "dead" life.
I liked it, but then that's me.


Bruce Amaro Try Faulkner's, "As I Lay Dying." Another stream-of-consciousness work. That style can be very trying and difficult to follow. I don't see any greatness in either story but in both cases they are considered among the authors' best work. Maybe the simplicity of the stories, the humanism of the characters makes these books special. Nothing about either story stirred me.


Vanessa Stone The Sound and the Fury was not a great book for me- but I only had to read the first page twice to make sure I understood what was happening- and later I was confused by two characters having the same name being recalled by the mentally disabled brother so that you are going back and forth in time as if it were the present. It was the first stream of consciousness novel that I ever read. In the end, I felt frustrated by the novel because I wasn't particularly fond of any of the characters. They all seemed morally reprehensible, except for the maid, who doesn't get her own voice which didn't seem fair. I did not allow that to deter me so I went for As I Lay Dying, which I did enjoy. The family was ridiculous and comical. I felt like the ending was a punchline to their stupidity. I wouldn't say that I felt connected to any of the characters in As I Lay Dying either, but it was humorous, and that I could appreciate.
I enjoyed Mrs. Dalloway, not my all time favorite because it didn't move me in a monumental way, however, it expressed sentiments about how we define ourselves and what defines us that I can appreciate.


Vanessa Stone One more thing, I think that some books are writer's books and it allows writers to explore style and open new ideas for other writers. I think that both Faulkner and Mrs. Dalloway did that for me, as I am a writer, and I enjoy the art of the novel as much as the story itself- they are equally important. Art should be approachable and open for interpretation and you don't have to enjoy everything that you are exposed to. Not all writers will have universal appeal, and I have found some books overrated and others underrated. It is all about personal taste and experience. I hope you enjoy your next book!


Sharon Vanessa wrote: "One more thing, I think that some books are writer's books and it allows writers to explore style and open new ideas for other writers. I think that both Faulkner and Mrs. Dalloway did that for me..."

Faulkner and Virginia Woolf?
Woolf published Mrs Dalloway in May 1925! Time does not diminish good writing but a modern reader needs to be able to read with the time frame in mind to appreciate the nuances of character, event and manners IMO.


Simon Cooper Like a great lyrical poem, this is a luxurious, sumptious, glorious stream of thought and experience and feeling - reaching towards that moment of illuminaion we all crave and reach for, and then it fades and is dust.


Bruce Amaro These stories were read by people who had the time and luxury to read them in a world that was far more provincial. Maybe we are too familiar with those ideas that were once enlightening but now passe.

But the Western Europeans had just fought through a terrible war that left them morally uncertain, dadaism and cubism influenced art, Elliot spoke for so many lost and distrusting souls. Mrs. Dalloway came from a past and a way of life that he class mourned. The story suggests the end of empire and let down of a society shattered and overtaken by middle class industrial people who didn't care who was giving what party.
It's a book about loss and way of life. They are middle aged and still mourn their youth.
And Wolff seems to be mourning with them, crazy as she was.


message 27: by Vanessa (last edited Aug 10, 2012 06:43PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Vanessa Stone Sharon, could you please elaborate? I'm not sure what issue my statement caused from your response, but you did quote it. Thanks.


Bruce Amaro Read Barbara Tuckerman's The Proud Tower. You'll see the world those people lost with the end of the Edwardian era, the Great War and instant communication.

Then read, "The Poet's Pub" for a healthier look at the same period in which Wolff depicted life for the Dalloways.


Sharon Vanessa wrote: "Sharon, could you please elaborate? I'm not sure what issue my statement caused from your response, but you did quote it. Thanks."

I was simply elaborating on whether reading Faulkner or Woolf that indeed the time the author wrote in and or the time frame for the story, and in the case of Woolf who published Mrs Dalloway in May 1925, time does not diminish good writing but a modern reader needs to be able to read with the time frame in mind to appreciate the nuances of character, event and manners IMO.


Vanessa Stone Thank you Sharon.


Bruce Amaro Le rhythme aller de l'avant.

Not the best French, but it'll do.


David This book is brilliantly written, but it is not for the casual reader. I read this as a senior in college. Virginia Woof's use of stream of consciousness was cutting edge when she wrote this. Joyce used this technique most effectively in "Ulysses."


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