In "Mrs Dalloway", Virginia Woolf explores the events of one day, impression by impression, minute by minute, as Clarissa Dalloway's and Septimus Smith's worlds look set to collide - this classic novel is beautifully repackaged as part of the "Penguin Essentials" range. 'She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.' On a June morning in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway, the glittering wife of a Member of Parliament, is preparing for a party she is giving that evening. As she walks through London, buying flowers, observing life, her thoughts are of the past and she remembers the time when she was as young as her own daughter Elizabeth, her romance with Peter Walsh, now recently returned from India; and the friends of her youth. Elsewhere in London Septimus Smith is being driven mad by shell shock. As the day draws to its end, his world and Clarissa's collide in unexpected ways. In "Mrs Dalloway" Virginia Woolf explored the events of one day, impression by impression, minute by minute, and recorded the feel of life itself. "One of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century". (Michael Cunningham). "Woolf is Modern. She feels close to us". (Jeanette). Winterson Born in 1882, Virginia Woolf was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917. Her first novel, "The Voyage Out", appeared in 1915, and her major novels include "Mrs Dalloway" (1925), the historical fantasy "Orlando" (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of "The Waves" (1931), and "Between the Acts" (1941). Woolf lived an energetic life, reviewing and writing and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.
As Clarissa Dalloway walks through London on a fine June morning, a sky-writing plane captures her attention. Crowds stare upwards to decipher the message while the plane turns and loops, leaving off one letter, picking up another. Like the airplane's swooping path, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway
follows Clarissa and those whose lives brush hers--from Peter Walsh, whom she spurned years ago, to her daughter Elizabeth, the girl's angry teacher, Doris Kilman, and war-shocked Septimus Warren Smith, who is sinking into madness.
As Mrs. Dalloway prepares for the party she is giving that evening, a series of events intrudes on her composure. Her husband is invited, without her, to lunch with Lady Bruton (who, Clarissa notes anxiously, gives the most amusing luncheons). Meanwhile, Peter Walsh appears, recently from India, to criticize and confide in her. His sudden arrival evokes memories of a distant past, the choices she made then, and her wistful friendship with Sally Seton.
Woolf then explores the relationships between women and men, and between women, as Clarissa muses, "It was something central which permeated; something warm which broke up surfaces and rippled the cold contact of man and woman, or of women together.... Her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not that, after all, been love?" While Clarissa is transported to past afternoons with Sally, and as she sits mending her green dress, Warren Smith catapults desperately into his delusions. Although his troubles form a tangent to Clarissa's web, they undeniably touch it, and the strands connecting all these characters draw tighter as evening deepens. As she immerses us in each inner life, Virginia Woolf offers exquisite, painful images of the past bleeding into the present, of desire overwhelmed by society's demands. --Joannie Kervran Stangeland