The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Mrs Dalloway

Posted on: May 28, 2007

Mrs Dalloway is now my absolutely favourite novel in the entire world. Ok, it hasn’t quite dethroned Jane Eyre (what could?) but it’s so transporting and ridiculously excellent. The writing, the characters, everything.

Oh, I’m in love. With both the book and the cover. Definitely one of the best Penguin covers I’ve seen.

To get a glimpse into what it’s like to do textual editing read Anne Fernham’s posts on her preparation for a new authoritative edition of Mrs Dalloway.


20 Responses to "Mrs Dalloway"

Hi – I’m visiting from The hidden side of a leaf. I’m with you: Mrs. Dalloway is my favorite novel, too. I never tire of it. Have you heard Loreena McKennitt’s rendition of “fear no more the heat of the sun”? It’s gorgeous.

a/k/a teabird

Thanks for commenting melanie, it’s always nice to have visitors. I do know of Mckennitt’s version because I’m a huge fan of her — i always recalled the song when any of the characters repeated the Cymbeline lines. It is gorgeous.

I also love Mrs Dalloway! Now that you’ve read it, if you haven’t read The Hours, you’d love that. If you have read The Hours, rereading it with knowledge of Mrs Dalloway makes an enormous difference.

I’m a big fan of Mrs Dalloway, and wrote, years ago, on male hysteria in the form of shell-shocked Septimus Smith. The image of Clarissa in her drawing room connected through narrative space and time to the rest of London is one of those powerful images that just stays with you.

Oh good. I’m glad Mrs D is recommended as I’ve been wanting to read that. I didn’t like The Voyage Out. However, I didn’t really like Jane Eyre either so… hmmmm 😉

Dewey ahh but I’ve checked and The Hours has one of those dreaded movie covers! (dum dum duuuuuum.)

litlove yes, that and all the colours! Although I think what I’ll remember most from this first reading is that entire scene of everyone transfixed by the “important” car and then by the plane in the sky. It seemed to capture a lot about ‘English-ness’ at the time.

Arukiyomi oh I don’t think you’ll have to worry since Bronte and Woolf are two very different writers in significant ways. Thanks for linking to your post on that book, I do mean to read Woolf’s earlier stuff as they all seem to be freely available online.

Haven’t ever read anything by Virginia Woolf, but I feel like I should. I’ll have to take this one into consideration when I take a look at her novels. Always interested to look into books that other people love.

Yes! I’m so glad you love it so. I had a very similar experience myself, as I read it. Maybe it’s time to return…

I’ve been following Ann’s posts on editing Mrs. Dalloway too and find them fascinating. I’ve love to have the chance to look at the text that closely — she discovers so much.

Matt I do hope you try her out. She has quite an intimidating reputation which is a shame as I think it overshadows the simple fact that her writing is beautiful — that can carry you through anything, I think.

Ted oh I’d like to see the posts that would result from a re-read.

Dorothy it’s even better for me now because I actually know about what she’s talking about, whereas before it was more about the process than what she was uncovering.

I’ll have to check out Anne Fernham’s posts that you linked to, sounds like a marvelous experious. Have you read To the Lighthouse? It’s one of my favorite Woolfs.

I haven’t read Mrs. Dalloway yet (hides face in shame). But I will. It’s hovering near the top of the toppling to-be-read pile.

I tried Mrs Dalloway a few years back and managed to get to the halfway mark before stopping. It’s certainl one of those books that you think you *have* to read; and so, it’s been sitting there again next to my side of the bed, awaiting that wonderful/awful moment when I undertake it again.

verbivore not yet, but I plan to as I bought it on the personal recommendation of a trusted book store employee. He’s living proof that chain stores do occasionally luck out on workers that no more than where a book is on the shelf.

Andi hahaha, no need to cringe about such things here — not too many posts ago I bravely listed about half of all the great classic authors I’ve never read.

Siew Cooper hahaha I have one or two (or three or four) books lying around in a similar state. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but sometimes it does pay to attempt a re-read to see how it goes. That’s what happened to me with To the Lighthouse except that I did’t even make it half-way.

I have this near the top of my TBR pile and am looking forward to it. I recently read To The Lighthouse which I enjoyed.

I second the recommendation for The Hours – I like the movie, too, even though Nicole Kidman wears THE NOSE, and Meryl Streep is the modern-day Clarissa. (I am a Streepophobe.) The flashbacks – both to Virginia’s time and post ww2 – are beautiful to look at.

I have actually read this twice, but I never really feel like I wrap my head around what’s happening–if that makes sense–or at least I don’t take away from the book what I want to. I plan on reading it yet again eventually!

There must be old editions available! Second hand bookstores, maybe?

rhinoa I hope you enjoy it then!

melanie yes, poor Kidman and that awful prosthetic. I’ll look it up.

Danielle I understand completely: certainly at some moments she leaves the “normal” narrative and veers into these very symbolic moments that reach out for a kind of archetypal resonance. What I mean is something that moves beyond the “Englishness” of the novel to something more universal and abstract, like the singing woman that Peter (I think it was) was walking through the park and reveling in civilised London. I found some of that perplexing and not immediately understandable but on a very basic level I reveled in the way she handled it.

Dewey you’re right, there might be a copy or two around. I’ll check.

You are probably by now sufficiently intrigued by The Hours but if you want some more reinforcement head over to Meli’s lovely blog for a fresh review:

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