Title: Mrs. Dalloway
Author: Virginia Woolf
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Publication Date: May 1925
Rating: 4 stars
Wow, look at that! Alyssa actually read something other than YA. Amazing, isn’t it? Yeah, I know I read a lot of YA…it’s just what I’m into. Such a prestigious English major, aren’t I? Well, being an English major, I have a ton of lit classes, one being Major Authors. This semester, the class is on Virginia Woolf, so I’ll be reading tons of her work. The first novel we read was Mrs. Dalloway. This is the first work I’ve ever read of Woolf’s, and my first significant experience with stream of consciousness writing. It took me a long time to read…when reading this type of literature, I have to read slowly and really focus. Oftentimes, I have to read a sentence over and over until I can actually understand what it’s saying. That being said, it really was not as fun to read as my darling YA novels. I gave it 4 stars because it’s one of the better classics that I’ve read.
Mrs. Dalloway is about, yep, you guessed it – a lady named Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa Dalloway is planning a party, so she goes out to buy some flowers and prepare herself for the evening. Some of her old childhood friends are in London that night and are planning on attending the party, including Peter Walsh, the man who has been desperately in love with Clarissa since they were young. That is pretty much the entire plot of this story. However, this is a stream of consciousness novel, told in third-person omniscient, so the perspective shifts quite frequently. In fact, the majority of the novel is about different characters’ thoughts and memories. There are no chapters, and very few breaks in the writing, even when the perspective shifts, so sometimes it takes a moment to realize you’re now reading the thoughts of a new character.
Even though I found myself bored and skimming sometimes, I really liked this novel. I highlighted tons of quotes and was quite eager to reach the end, to see what happened to the characters. The book is about growing old and reflecting on the past (oftentimes being stuck in the past), and thinking about all the “what if”‘s: what would my life be like if I had done this, said this, etc.
True, it was hard to read, and I didn’t get as into it as I do with my YA fiction, but I was surprised at how easy it was to relate to certain characters, and the honesty of their thoughts. I think it’s interesting to read stream of consciousness works because it reflects how our minds work – we see or hear something, and it reminds us of something else, which reminds us of something else, which reminds us of something else, which brings us back to our original thought. I love it. Although it’s a challenge, I’m excited to read more of Woolf.
“Nobody lives for himself alone.”
“Far away he heard her sobbing; he heard it accurately, he noticed it distinctly; he compared it to a piston thumping. But he felt nothing. His wife was crying, and he felt nothing; only each time she sobbed in this profound, this silent, this hopeless way, he descended another step into the pit.”
“It was jealousy that was at the bottom of it – jealousy which survives every other passion of mankind.”
“But nothing is so strange when one is in love as the complete indifference of other people.”