Mrs Dalloway

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A novel by V. Woolf, published 1925.

The action is restricted to the events of one day in central London, punctuated by the chimes of Big Ben; it opens on a June morning in Westminster as Clarissa Dalloway, wife of Richard Dalloway MP, sets off to buy flowers for her party that evening, the party which provides the culmination and ending of the book. Her interior monologue (see stream of consciousness), interwoven with the sights and sounds of the urban scene, is handled with a technical confidence and bravura that herald a new phase in Woolf's mastery of the novel. Clarissa herself is captured in her many shifting moods and recollections, and contrasted with and seen through the eyes of many other characters. Her day is also contrasted with that of the shell‐shocked Septimus Warren Smith, who hears the sparrows sing in Greek in Regent's Park, and who at the end of the day commits suicide by hurling himself from a window; news of his death intrudes upon Clarissa's party, brought by the Harley Street doctor whom he had uselessly consulted. Woolf insisted upon the mutual dependence of these two characters, noting in her workbook, ‘Mrs D. seeing the truth. SS seeing the insane truth.’

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards).

Reference entries

Virginia Woolf (1882—1941) writer and publisher

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