Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

A Novel of One Day: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: A review  originally published in The Daily Herald (Chicago), July 1925: Virginia Woolf has written an entire novel about one day. Imagine the facial expression of Sir Walter Scott and his contemporaries if they had been told that such a thing was possible.

Writers of romance, of intrigue and adventure unfolding during the first twenty-five years of a hero’s life, how could they visualize such an innovation! But Virginia Woolf, admirer of Marcel Proust and James Joyce, has done it, and done it admirably.

A novel of one day

Mrs. Woolf has evidently aimed to give and has given a cross section in this one day of the lives of a number of characters, some of them entirely unrelated to each other. She has taken each moment of the day, one has to, to make a novel out of fourteen hours. We hear Big Ben strike his solemn tones, sometimes we feel that we almost hear him tick off the minutes.

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The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

See also: The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf 

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Details of inner life

And we pass quite naturally and without visible transition from Mrs. Dalloway as she sits in her luxurious sitting room, taking a stitch in the evening dress which she will wear at her party that evening, to Septimus Warren Smith who sits in Green Park and whose only connection with Mrs. Dalloway is that he is alive and in London at the moment when Mrs. Dalloway is stitching her gown.

It is rather exciting process this one of pulling each moment apart to see what it’s made of. We take a moment as if it were a flower, we not with a vivisectionist’s zeal we tear it apart and leave nothing but wisp-like shreds on the grass, sometimes we hold it far off, then close to us, and put it in a vase to keep.

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Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf on Amazon

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A daring style

“ ‘For you should see the Milan gardens,’ she said aloud. But to whom? There was nobody. Her words faded. So a racket fades. Its sparks, having grazed their was into the night, surrender to it, dark descends, pours over the outlines of houses and towers; bleak hillsides soften and fall in.

But though they are gone, the night is full of them; robbed of colour, blank of windows, they exist more ponderously….”

Mrs. Woolf’s style is broken, choppy, phrases that are rapped out as if by a telegraph instrument. She has attempted something rather daring in this her latest book, and has achieved something very interesting.


More about Mrs. Dalloway

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Audio edition of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
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2 Responses to “Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)”

    • This review was published in a Chicago newspaper in 1925, upon the book’s US publication! See the captioning at top. I’m sure the reviewer is long gone, and idin’t know if it’s published anywhere else. I hope that helps!

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