Home Entertainment Virginia Woolf’s novels once left me cold. A new book about ‘Mrs....

Virginia Woolf’s novels once left me cold. A new book about ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ changed my mind.


Throughout, the novel satirizes the English upper classes as shallow and superannuated, vividly evokes the post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the bloodbath that was World War I, reminisces about an Edenic past of rose gardens and golden afternoons, and probes, from multiple points of view, the enigmatic essence of Clarissa Dalloway. Woolf organizes the action around certain symbolic objects and events — an expensive automobile backfiring, a skywriting airplane, the crowded shopping streets of fashionable London, the Dalloway party — and effortlessly segues from one character’s consciousness to another in a series of subtly interconnected interior monologues. As befits an Oxford professor, Emre’s commentary on all this is both learned and lucidly expressed. She neatly points out, for example, the parallels between an author structuring a book and a hostess planning a successful party.

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