Category Archives: Mrs. Dalloway

What does Clarissa Hate?

Yes, I know, I know, we’re supposed to figure out what the main character wants, not hates.   But, Susan Wise Bauer, I wonder if noting what the character despises can get us a bit closer to figuring out her wants.   After all, sometimes we hate the things we can’t have, right?

So, what does Clarissa hate?   Think on that for a minute.

Got an answer?

Well, here’s a quote from the novel to add to your answer (or confirm it).

Love and religion!   thought Clarissa, going back into the drawing room, tingling all over.  How detestable, how detestable they are!   For now that the body of Miss Kilman was not before her, it overwhelmed her – the idea.   The cruelest things in the world, she thought, seeing them clumsy, hot, domineering, hypocritical, eavesdropping, jealous, infinitely cruel and unscrupulous, dressed in a mackintosh coat, on the landing; love and religion.

Seems like she “doth protest too much.”   Love and religion.   Does she really hate them, or does she long for them because she can’t/won’t have them, and the longing has turned into hate?


Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


Do you agree with SWB?

In The Well-Educated Mind Susan Wise Bauer has an annotated list of the novels.  Fearful of spoilers, I avoid this list until after I have completed a book, then I scoop up my WEM copy and devour SWB’s synopsis.  Have you read her summary of Mrs. Dalloway?  Allow me to share a little.

But the story actually takes place not in the physical world, but in a different kind of universe: a mental reality, where the laws that given time and space are different, where characters who never meet in person intersect, mysteriously, in their thoughts…

Yep.  We’re in agreement.  Definitely “a mental reality”.
The quote continues.

and where Septimus and Clarissa, unacquainted with each other, are mirror images.

Hold the phone!  Really?  Mirror images?
Party-planning lady?  Suicide-committing man?

Septimus is unable to cope with disrupted, shattered, post-World War I England; Clarissa Dalloway survives, but only because she refuses to think deeply…          (The Well-Educated Mind,  page 103)

Mirror images, huh.  This I will have to ponder.
Do you agree with SWB?


Posted by on August 4, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Off the Menu

Sometimes reading classic books not only expands the mind; it expands the palate.

Jeannette shared a scone recipe for us to enjoy while sipping tea and reading Pride and Prejudice.

Christina recreated the Oliver Twist gruel experience and decided that she’s really rather not have some more.

Christina baked  Jane Eyre‘s seed cake which little Henry Harris also enjoyed in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  The three of us bonded with Jane and Henry after the first bite, understanding the tastiness of the treat.

There were a few foods that we avoided experiencing; for example,  the Cannibal’s rotten hippo meat in Heart of Darkness.  In The Portrait of a Lady, Mrs. Touchett rejects England because of bread-sauce.  We might too.

Today I’m taking a Mrs. Dalloway dish off the menu: chicken in aspic.  Sure, Clarissa’s cook might have prepared it for the big party, but I googled it, and I am not eating cold chicken in jello.   Would you?


Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Mr. and Mrs. Smith

My “favorite” parts of Mrs. Dalloway were those that involved Septimus and Rezia. It was in those sections that I tolerated Woolf’s stream-of-conscience style.  In fact, it even made sense to me when dealing with a mentally unstable veteran and his worried wife.Mrs. Dalloway 2

When I started reading Mrs. Dalloway I thought, “Now here’s a book in which I won’t have to worry about a major character dying.  It takes place in a single day.  It’s about a woman having a party!  How could Woolf possibly kill anyone?”

I was wrong.  I should have remembered Christina’s list from our blogiversary post.  That “death parts us” section is staggeringly long.  Then there was the post where she linked this article.  Since March we’ve read Heart of Darkness, The House of Mirth, and The Great Gatsby; in those stories characters kick the bucket because of illness, injury, and murder.

I’m afraid to see next year’s “death list”.

What were your thoughts about Septimus’s tragic end?



Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Mr and Mrs. Levin…and Elizabeth

I think Elizabeth Dalloway should go visit Anna Karenina’s Kitty and Levin.

People were beginning to compare her to poplar trees, early dawn, hyacinths, fawns, running water, and garden lilies; and it made her life a burden to her, for she so much preferred being left alone to do what she liked in the country, but they would compare her to lilies, and she had to go to parties, and London was so dreary compared with being alone in the country with her father and the dogs.   (Mrs. Dalloway)

I think a stay at the happy couple’s countryside home is just what Elizabeth needs: a little Arbeitskür

Hay-cutting is the perfect prescription for unhappy, unfulfilled socialites.


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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Uninvited and Invited

Peter Walsh tells us a secret about Clarissa’s husband.  Mrs. D cover 4
Mr. Dalloway doesn’t think people should read Shakespeare.

But how could she swallow all that stuff about poetry?  How could she let him hold forth about Shakespeare?  Seriously and solemnly Richard Dalloway got on his hind legs and said that no decent man ought to read Shakespeare’s sonnets because it was like listening at keyholes (besides, the relationship was not one that he approved).

Well, Richard, I’m going to have to uninvite you from our book club.  When we reach the poetry section of The Well-Educated Mind, we are going to read sonnets.  Lots of them.

If Septimus Warren Smith had not impulsively thrown himself out the window, I would have personally delivered his invite to read along with us.  For you see, he was

…one of those half-educated, self-educated men whose education is all learnt from books borrowed from public libraries, read in the evening after the day’s work, on the advice of well-known authors consulted by letter.

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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Mrs. DallowayThere are two places in Mrs. Dalloway where Richard Dalloway is called “Wickham”.

In Pride and Prejudice George Wickham was the charming, but less-than-honorable man who stole Lydia Bennet away and eloped with her.


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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway, Pride and Prejudice


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