It is hard to find anyone nowadays who will dare venture a bad word on Mrs Dalloway: its status as a pioneer feminist text and a brilliantly experimental work is wholly secure. At the time of its publication, however, opinions were more mixed. It was hard in the mid-1920s to come to terms with what, for many, seemed a vexatiously new-fangled work. The reading public was not yet ready for the challenge of what came to be called stream of consciousness narrative, or the inner richness of a novel whose main event, a superficial reading might suggest, is an upper-class Conservative politician's wife's purchase of flowers for a summer party. This, recall, in the immediate aftermath of a conflict, the First World War, which had shaken the whole of Europe to its foundations. Before, during, and after writing Mrs Dalloway Woolf teetered on the edge of mental breakdown, and more than once fell into its awful depths. And on the edge of the main plot of Mrs Dalloway, and its heroine's outwardly serene existence, she places Septimus Smith - a shell-shocked survivor of the Great War who finds peacetime too terrible to continue living in. Mrs Dalloway is a novel which provokes thought about the fraught nature of genius, literary modernism, the ambiguous place of women in English society and literature, the infinite complexities of sexual relationships, and even the worthwhileness of life itself. This book seeks to explore all this and to show that reading Mrs Dalloway can be one of the most rewarding experiences English fiction has to offer.
|Publication date:||1st September 2014|
|Author:||John Sutherland, Susanna Hislop|
|Categories:||Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Literary studies: from c 1900 -,|
John Sutherland, described by Claire Tomalin as the sharpest and wittiest of literary commentators , is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus, UCL, and has for many years been a visiting professor at the Californian Institute of Technology. He is the author of many books and more editions than he cares to count. He writes and reviews widely in the UK and the US. His most recent books are: The Boy who Loved Books (2007), Magic Moments (2008), Curiosities of Literature (2008), The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction, 2nd Edition (2009), 50 Ideas in Literature You Really Need to Know (2010, with Stephen Fender). He's currently working on Lives ...More About John Sutherland, Susanna Hislop