VIVIEN SAID SHE WOULD READ THE BOOK HERSELF | REGRETS IT

After watching a TED-Ed video about Virginia Woolf and reading Shakespeare's Sister in AP English, I decided to tackle Mrs. Dalloway. Going in, as one does with every revered Classic novel, I expected to love it and give it a round of applause when I finished; I applauded because I was finally done with it! Though I appreciate it stylistically, that's about the extent of my affections. I wasn't able to appreciate the nuances and commentary fully because I was bored, confused, and not ready for this text. I'm surprised that my "preparation" and research on Woolf did not help me.

If it weren't for Schmoop's summary and explanation of the techniques employed and Modernism, I would have been even more lost. The whole book/story spans over a day, but it feels like an eon because of the narration shifts and the third-person omniscient narrator with too much information: hence it's called omniscient. All these narration shifts and glimpses of the past make readers lose track of time, which was something Modernist authors played with. Reading events that take 4-5 hours felt much longer; it was agonizing. I don't recommend reading this on and off—I also don't think it's impossible to read in one sitting because I dozed off countless times—because it will further disorient you.

Because it all takes place in one day, expect the all the little things that happen in life: errands, conversations, running into old friends, etc. It depicts life to the minuscule details. It also goes on torrents-stream of conscienceness-that puts you to sleep. Reading this felt like a slow death by quicksand. Woolf does a great job at transitioning perspectives-so elegant and smooth; their conscience blends together, almost making them indistinguishable, which can also be seen as a double-edged sword. I thought I was quick to use a plethora of unnecessary punctuation, but Woolf beats me, and the dead horse. Yes, semicolons are helpful tools that give extra details and contribute the third person omniscient point of view, but an excess detracts from the reading pace. I saw maybe five semicolons in succession to join small clauses. When I read semicolons, there is a brief pause in my head. My brain was in flux, and I felt like a dribbling basketball. I'm not sure if Woolf intended to use semicolons, or if publishers took artistic liberty. 

I enjoyed some narrations, but most put me to sleep. I especially hated Peter Walsh's because I think he is pathetic and irritating, along with Richard Dalloway. I sympathized with Elizabeth Dalloway's point of view because it illustrates female oppression and a desire for independence. I particularly enjoyed the anecdote about Clarissa and Sally, which sparked my interest to do research on her [Woolf's] sexuality. I though Septimus Warren Smith's narration was tragic yet profound. Miss Kilman's and Mrs. Dalloway's mutual dislike toward each other was the only time this text had emotion. It's a very dry text.

I would love to give this book another chance in a couple of years; hopefully, I enjoy it then. Though I have an inkling that my opinions won't change. I think that you should skip reading this novel, but you would miss an opportunity to read experimental, innovative writing.

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