Tag Archives: Feminist Literature

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

27 Jun

First book, here we go! Of course, for me, I had to start with my personal favorite and forever homegirl, Virginia Woolf.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Published: 1925

Genre: Fiction (stream of consciousness, feminism, modernism, 1920’s, post-WWI, upper-class British society)

Difficulty: Somewhat difficult, can get confusing at times.

Quick Read?: Deceptively not. Crawl into bed with this one, give yourself some time.

Synopsis: Clarissa Dalloway, a middle-aged mother and housewife in London, is planning a dinner party for that night. The novel follows her, and those around her, as she puts together the party with her servants. Her life intersects with her own family–her husband, her daughter–but also her former suitor, Richard, who stops in unexpectedly, and war veteran (and obvious victim of PTSD) Septimus. As Clarissa navigates her past and present, she attempts to pull off the perfect dinner party, only to be drawn out it’s revelry by an inevitable feeling of connection with the universe.

Yeah, OK, but why should I read this?:  Now I won’t even pretend I’m not biased here, because I totally am. I love me some Woolf, and modernist prose and poetry never fails to take my breath away.

That being said, Mrs. Dalloway is an absolute classic feminist text. If you have any issues in issues of gender or sexuality, any work by Woolf will be right up your alley, in that she helped form the feminist movement as we know it today. Clarissa’s struggles to be seen as a good wife, and as someone of importance in society, is one that is painful to watch her struggle through, though I’m sure for many women is a familiar struggle.

Also, the modernist stream of consciousness that can make this book difficult also makes it beautiful. As I’ll mention later, read it slowly. The narrator changes constantly, sometimes even mid-sentence. The beautiful flow from voice to voice can be overwhelming, but also incredibly moving. Don’t let it discourage you–I hate to say it, but you really do gotta go with the flow to enjoy this!

If you like this, try: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Joyce, The Complete Short Stories by Flannery O’Connor, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, A Room of One’s Own by Woolf, To the Lighthouse by Woolf

The lovely Virginia Woolf herself, looking whimsical here.

A Few Intriguing Facts:

  • Woolf would have total mental breakdowns after she would finish her novels. Her writing on mental illness and it’s treatment, in all of her books, is pretty fascinating.
  • Mrs. Dalloway was the basis for the book and movie “The Hours,” by Michael Cunningham. It follows how the novel effected Woolf herself and others who would read her work throughout the twentieth century.