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Mrs. Dalloway

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Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf - 1925

Heralded as Virginia Woolf's greatest novel, this is a vivid portrait of a single day in a woman's life. 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.
This book shows how much women had achieved since Jane Austen's days - and how much they hadn't. It's about halfway between Ms. Auten's lifetime and today and if you consider how slow women's rights progressed, you can guess how long it is still going to take until women and men are going to be equal, have the same chances, if ever!

(thread first started 27.04.06)

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And here is the original thread:

 

katrina 27th April 2006 05:33 PM

I'm reading (very slowly) the Second Sex at the mo and also having feminist rants about the fact that men and women are ever likely to be treated equally - although I do believe women confuse men with this because we still like gentlemen who open doors, pay for dinner on dates and stuff.

 

I really enjoyed Mrs Dalloway, but read it years ago so can't reamember a great amount of detail, is the female position that she describes only relevant for that class I can't imagine that w/c women had a great position compared to men. Its also really interesting to read A Room of One's Own in relation to Virgina Woolfs opinion on the female position.

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Mungus 27th April 2006 07:49 PM

I'm surprised that this is a new thread, I feel that I have read and written about Mrs Dalloway on other threads before. It's my 'most started' book ever. I get to the bit where the king/queen is going by and everyone stops to listen and I lose interest and move on to something more interesting. It's up there in my 'most over-rated' list. But then, as also documented elsewhere, I'm not good with the classics.

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Momo 27th April 2006 08:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by katrina

Although I do believe women confuse men with this because we still like gentlemen who open doors, pay for dinner on dates and stuff.

What do you think most women would prefer - getting the chance to study, get the job they want with the same pay as men or get someone to open the door for them? Tough choice! ;)

I know what I would choose.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mungus

I'm surprised that this is a new thread, I feel that I have read and written about Mrs Dalloway on other threads before. It's my 'most started' book ever. I get to the bit where the king/queen is going by and everyone stops to listen and I lose interest and move on to something more interesting. It's up there in my 'most over-rated' list. But then, as also documented elsewhere, I'm not good with the classics.

---

Mmh, I usually check before I start a thread, and did so this time. I can't find a thread on this one, though there are a lot of other threads that pop up if you look for "Dalloway". Maybe that's what you remember. If you can find a thread, however, please, post the link so we can combine it.

Sorry you didn't like it. I can see that it's not everybody's piece of cake. I remember you saying somewhere else that you're not into classics. I must admit, I am. That doesn't mean I like every classic, there are a few I don't like either.

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katrina 27th April 2006 09:33 PM

Hey I'm not saying that it's right that women still expect all that male chivalry plus equal pay and stuff, I have a career and plan to keep it man or no man, and I expect to get paid the same as well. I just think that the ideas portrayed by our society about male and female roles are confusing, to both men and women. It was on the news a couple of days ago that dads feel that they don't know how to do all the stuff with the kids but they really want to - its kind of sad if thats how they feel, they also said that when dads do stuff its seen as helping mum, rather than doing it because they should.

 

Anyway, back to Mrs Dalloway, the first time I read this I thought it was really overated and didn't get why everyone hyped it up, then I had a random chat with a random stranger in a bar about it and it just clicked.

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Mungus 27th April 2006 10:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by katrina

... the ideas portrayed by our society about male and female roles are confusing, to both men and women.

 

That'll be because of the Daily Mail.

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Seraphina 28th April 2006 02:20 PM

I have to say, I found Mrs Dalloway extremely dull too, I did finish it but ONLY because I had an exam on it. However I am keen to re-read it as I also hated To the Lighthouse the first time I read it, but on second reading I really liked it. I think, like Katrina says, books like that sometimes feel a bit over-rated, but then they just 'click'.

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Just finished a re-read of this and sent my thoughts to my RLBG. Here's what I had to say, bearing in mind that I really wasn't in the mood to re-read this book again -

 

This is a tough book to stick with. There is very little in the way of plot or action. Taking her cue from Henry James, Woolf offers the readers a path into the inner consciousness of Clarissa Dalloway, a socialite on the day of organising a party. It's not quite a stream of consciousness novel as there is more structure to the narrative, but essentially the way each character's consciousness flits between their thoughts and what they see and hear around them has the effect of stream of consciousness.

 

The hangover from the first world war looms over the novel; there are countless references to loud explosions and bangs, and death. The most obvious representation of the war is in the shell-shocked Septimus. He is obviously a great hero yet, post-war he is reduced to a shell (no pun intended), for people to pity and for his wife to be frustrated with. I found this quite sad, that even in the joy of the war being over, men such as Septimus became sort of redundant in all senses of the word. He also makes for an interesting figure of 'madness' so long associated with women in 19th century and fin-de-siecle fiction. Curiouser, still if we consider Woolf's own mental health.

 

The constant reference to flowers, indeed how the novel even begins, suggests, for me, a desire for beauty to enter life again after the horrors of the war. Clarissa herself despite protesting against excess, prefer things of beauty - and perhaps a return to her days with Sally. Everyone seems to be associated with flowers at some point in the novel, and there is something sensuous in the description of Clarissa choosing flowers in the florists. It's a conscious effort to inject beauty back into the war-torn world - fresh and colourful rather than grey and bloody.

 

My favourite scene is when Peter first comes to see Clarissa and their dialogue is punctuated with their inner thoughts - the thoughts having a dialogue of their own - answering each other's thoughts, saying what is left unsaid in the open dialogue. It's a very clever literary device, but one that actually holds true for real life.

 

I think it is difficult to like this book. The prose can seem like torture sometimes as Woolf really likes to cram sentences full of clauses, and much of them read like poetry. There is little in the way of action, drama, or even likeable characters. But for technical ability and innovation, it is hard to find a more worthy book - maybe Ulysses - but have you seen how long that is? This was the third time I have read this book - it's still no clearer, and with every read I only get part of the picture. I don't think I'll ever 'get' the whole - but it still a fascinating read.

 

For now though, until my last uni course, I am glad that Mrs Dalloway is Mrs Faraway. ;)

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I will. Then I'll go and shell out on a copy for myself.

 

Is your brain hurting now? Punning...really David, the last bastion of wit.

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Is your brain hurting now? Punning...really David, the last bastion of wit.

'Tis true. The odd one is fair enough, but if over-used it can get a bit hackneyed, I agree.

 

I shall cease these punderous posts.

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'Tis true. The odd one is fair enough, but if over-used it can get a bit hackneyed, I agree.

 

I shall cease these punderous posts.

 

:D It really is pundering the coffers of tabloid journalism.

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I already mentioned it in the "Currently Reading" thread today that I thought maybe the start was a little slow but that it was getting more and more interesting with every page.

I like the way how "Woolf offers the readers a path into the inner consciousness of Clarissa Dalloway", the post-war problems add to the book. I did like your description, Hazel, even though I don't agree on everything. From your point of view, the book is difficult. But I certainly wouldn't say that it is "difficult to like this book".

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I`ve just finished reading Mrs Dalloway.

Some books I can read in a room with the TV on Mrs Dalloway is not one of these. It is, I think, a very dense book and needs full attention.

I did`nt mind that there was not a lot action or plot as some of the sentances are beautifully evocative.

There is much looking back on choices that have been made, but no regrets from Mrs Dalloway as she prepares for the party she will give that evening.

I found it a bit sad at times especially regarding Septimus, I knew it would end badly for him.

Not a easy read but well worth reading.

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I read this a few years ago now, but it is a powerful novel and remains with me still. I loved your review Hazel. It sets out the structure of the novel well and your reactions to it.

 

There is one aspect you do not mention, which when I read it was very strong for me; the connection between Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus' mental states. Both seem to live inside themselves, despite both trying to come to terms with their current lives. Their lives cross only briefly, but when Clarissa hears

of Septemus' suicide, she immediately empathizes with his action, almost as if that was the thing she wanted to do but could not.

I think she exists rather than lives, the same way Septiumus does.

His life was damaged by war, her's by choosing a peaceful existence in her marriage to, perhaps, the wrong man.

 

 

This is a novel I will definitely read again. I saw a trailer for a film version the other day and I hope to be able to see that too sometime.

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Just read Hazel's appreciation of Mrs Dalloway. The flowers are indeed the crux of the book. Most moving when nice boring old Richard gives them to her wordlessly, unable to tell Clarissa he loves her any other way. These telling details stay with the reader, reminding me, at least, of Tusker's final letter to his wife in Paul Scott's Staying On. The inarticulateness of the male who is usually so articulate is pathetically moving. I never find Rushdie or McEwan moving in the same way, clever as they both are.

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