Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway

It was a great pleasure to read Virginia Woolf’s novel, a literary observation of London and some of its inhabitants just after the end of WW1. All of Woolf’s senses are wide open to the sensations of place nd character, and her observations are sharp, incisive and often very funny.  The novel’s literary style is what I think is called a ‘stream of conciousness’, with no chapters, and seamless transitions, not only between one person’s meandering thoughts and feelings but also from character to character.

 

The whole novel takes place in the course of a single day, and is built around Clarissa Dalloways’s preparations for a party that evening.  She seems an impressionable person, someone who goes through day to day life breathlessly working hard at finding happiness and wonder in everything around her.  At the same time, underneath she feels lonely and ageing, and is seeing a psychologist for her depression, as is Septimus, a war veteran, whose thoughts and feelings echo those of Clarissa. Sadness lies beneath the surface for many of the characters in fact; the novel mainly concerns their thoughts rather than their surface appearances.

 

The writing is a roller coaster, great long rambling sentences punctuated with commas amd semi-colons swept me along, and I felt I needed to hold on tight until i came to the end of the ride.  I finished the book quite quickly, unlike my usual slow pace, and was left with the (unusual for me) feeling that I’d find more to enjoy in a second or even a third reading.

 

Reference

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Kindle Classic Bestseller

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