Rereading Mrs Dalloway

I reread Mrs. Dalloway, conventionally Mrs Dalloway, without the full stop, on the front cover in England, but with on the title pages and thereafter. It is, I believe, the first book I read by Woolf. I’ve never forgotten the passage in which one first meets Miss Kilman, her colossal egotism and self righteousness, her monstrous libido sublimated into religious fanaticism. It is extraordinary writing and testament to Woolf’s capacity for capturing character with a few lines.

When I read Mrs. Dalloway for the first time, I took copies of the book to press into the hands of a few friends. Only one of them had read it. One other was to become, just like me, an unconditional “Woolfian”. It was the Kilman passages that I marked and then read to them, savouring that moment when Miss Kilman and Clarissa ‘assess each other’s bodies in class terms’. Remarkable, yes, but also undeniably cruel as Woolf can be to her minor, symbolic characters.

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Anthony

Time's Flow Stemmed is a notebook of my wild readings.

4 thoughts on “Rereading Mrs Dalloway

  1. My goodness, it’s so long since I read Mrs D I remember only fleeting images – like the sparrows talking in Greek to – is it Septimus? By far the best of hers, I feel. Didn’t get on well with Between the Acts or The Waves. And of course there’s To the Lighthouse. But Mrs D surely stands out

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    1. It stands out to me as my first. I thought it wonderful, still do, but went on to discover the others, each which I love or admire. To the Lighthouse is possibly my favourite of the novels, but I do love The Waves.

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  2. This certainly resonates with me, Anthony, as “Mrs. Dalloway” was also my first Woolf and because of that it’s possibly my favourite. It may not be her highest artistic achievement, but it is marvellous and has its place in my heart. And fortunately every time I’ve revisited it, I’ve loved it even more.

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