Tag Archives: 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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Doubling Back for Dalloway

Screeeech!  That was the sound of me slamming on the breaks and turning this CCOM car around.
I am doubling back for Mrs. DallowayMrs

It’s Sunday, so let me start off with a little confession of my latest WEM sins.  I am just now starting the wrap up questions for Mrs. Dalloway.  I know!  Shocker!  and after our New Year’s resolution too.  Last night as I looked through my copy of the text and tried to read my illegible journal notes, I realized that we did not spend very much time discussing our twentieth tale.

For that reason, I’m taking a detour and backtracking to give a few days to Clarissa, Peter, and the Smiths.

After that lengthy explanation, I’d like to share the subtitle of this blog post:

Clarissa and Lizzy

Perhaps to be more accurate the title should be:

Peter and Lizzy

In both Mrs. Dalloway and Pride & Prejudice some serious statements regarding wedded bliss are made.  There’s this one from Jane Austen:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

And this one from Virginia Woolf:

…for there’s nothing in the world so bad for some women as marriage, he thought;

According to Peter Walsh, those wealthy, single men are ruining good women.  I already noted the many unhappy relationships in this title.  Is this an example of Woolf showing the strain between tradition and modernism?  In Mrs. Dalloway Hugh Whitbread is traditional, married to a convalescent wife.  Peter Walsh is modern, returning to England to obtain a divorce so that he can be with his new love, a married woman.

I wonder what our next novels will think about marriage.

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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Strike That

Mrs. Dalloway is the worst book ever written.

Mrs. Dalloway is a superbly intellectual, complicated, vast piece of art to be plumbed with careful study with attention to every symbolic detail while noticing the cultural significance and revolutionary and progressive literary techniques and . . .

I couldn’t dislike it more if I tried.

Mrs Dalloway


Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Checking in on Mrs. D.

Mrs Dalloway check-in1

Still reading?
Have you finished Woolf’s classic?
(stage whisper) Have you given up?

Don’t give up!  A book without plot will not defeat us!
I have about forty pages left.  I’m determined  to attend Clarissa’s party today.

If you are still running the stream-of-thought race, please share your place in the comments.

If you have successfully completed the novel, you can

1. Start the WEM wrap-up questions.  Retitling this one is going to take some work.
2. Test your memory for details with the sparknotes quiz.
3. Throw yourself a “I finished the book!” celebration party and spend the day writing down every thought you have.
4. Check out this movie version and share your review with us.
Vanessa Redgrave stars as Mrs. D.
5.  Start hunting for a copy of our next title: Kafka’s The Trial.

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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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Are any of the couples in Mrs. Dalloway happy?

We know that Clarissa and Richard have been sleeping apart since her illness.  Mrs. Dalloway spends a lot of time thinking about when she refused Peter Walsh’s marriage proposal.  She also thinks back to her teenage love of her friend Sally Seton.  That doesn’t seem content.

There’s dapper Hugh Whitbread and his perpetually sick wife Evelyn.  Are they happy?Mrs. D cover 3

Peter Walsh has returned to seek his attorney’s help in securing a divorce because he’s now in love with a married twenty-four year old mother of two.  Definitely unhappy–thinking love with an off-limits woman will make him happy.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith struggle with the effects of Septimus’ mental illness.  They both think about the possibility of Septimus killing himself.  Lucrezia is trapped in a country that’s not her own with a man she loves and fears.  Septimus is trapped in his own mind.  He loves his wife but wants/needs/is afraid to be without her, knowing he will end his life.  Heart-wrenchingly unhappy.

Will we meet any happily married couples?


Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway


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