1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

'The Mrs. Dalloway Reader' Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


The Mrs. Dalloway Reader

The Mrs. Dalloway Reader

Study Guide In The Mrs. Dalloway Reader, Francine Prose brings together a unique collection of background material on the life and works of Virginia Woolf, centering on Mrs. Dalloway. In a discussion of Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, we begin at the very beginning.

Time and Mrs. Dalloway

"Mr. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."

With that line, we are off on our exploration of the life and times of the fictional Mrs. Dalloway. Of course, unless you've conducted further research, you may not be aware of Virginia Woolf's extensive background development of this character--through journal entries, correspondence, and short stories.

Time is the thread that ties the characters in the novel together--weaving back and forth through the years--with disparate personalities and points of view. Emotions float near the surface--awaiting a chance to break through the stark, cold exterior--into a flood of tears or an expression of insanity.

Time represents the flow of moments from the beginning of one's memory to the present consciousness, but the moments intermingle until they become almost illusory. The great clock forever reminds us that time is passing, stealing away those precious moments as the characters grow old.

A Dialogue with Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf was revolutionizing the art of literature and creating a new literary form when she published Mrs. Dalloway in 1925. In this novel, Woolf explores many of life's dualities, but she also explores the dualities and relationships between individuals. And, she was exploring something in herself.

In the end, we can discuss the impact this novel has made upon society, upon writers since 1925, and upon our consciousness. The critical material collected with this novel discusses many of the controversies and ambiguities that surround and pervade the novel, but they also make us understand something of the dialogue that has been inspired by Virginia Woolf: her life, works, and perhaps particularly by Mrs. Dalloway.

Perhaps it's mad to think that life could hold some meaning for even the most ordinary woman. Here, in this collection that contains the novel, short stories, critical commentary, and the stories, we explore where Mrs. Dalloway came from, how the idea originated, how she developed, and how she was able to take on a very real life of her own. We explore the adventure of her creation, and we discover the depths of meaning and understanding of life that Woolf packed into her novel.

The Novel and What it is...

No novel is perfection, but some books make us think. Perhaps in that, the novel tells us more about ourselves than about itself. In the 1928 edition of Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf offers this introduction: "Of Mrs. Dalloway then one can only bring to light at the moment a few scraps, of little importance or none perhaps... Such scraps are offered humbly to the reader in the hope that like other odds and ends they may come in useful."

Read about the "speed and life." Mrs. Dalloway is filled with this and so much more: "life, death, sex, love, marriage, parenthood, youth, age, the present and the past, memory, London, war, reason, unreason, loyalty, medicine, social snobbery, friendship, compassion, cruelty..." Perhaps in all of this, you'll learn something about yourself.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.