Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf (II)

The Hours – the movie
Michael Cunningham’s 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Hours, focused on three generations of women affected by Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway.
In 2002, a film version of the novel was released starring Nicole Kidman as Woolf, a role for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress the same year. The film also starred Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep.

Here you have some quotes from the book -that also appear on the film- I specially like.

– “Oh, Mrs Dalloway… always giving parties to cover the silence.”

-“But I still have to face the hours, don’t I? I mean, the hours after the party, and the hours after that…”

-“A woman’s whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day her whole life.”

-“I was going to kill my heroine. But I’ve changed my mind. I fear I may have to kill someone else, instead.”

Watch this video, is the final scene of the movie. It doesn’t reveal much, only that Virginia Woolf commited suicide -but I already wrote that in another post. I love this fragment, it is so beautiful and true the things she said.

-“To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us, always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.” – Virginia Woolf .

(In a letter to Leonard when she drowned herself by putting a large stone in her pocket in the river Ouse, on 28 March 1941, aged fifty-nine.)

I hope that after reading the posts on Mrs Dalloway, some of you may want to read it or watch The Hours. You should!

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Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was born in Berdichev (now Ukraine). It was when he was in his twenties that he managed to speak English, becoming one of the greatest novelists in this language.
In 1874 he moved to Marseilles where he becomes a trainee seaman with the French Merchant Marine.
Most of his novels are his own experiences he had as a seaman.





An Outcast of the Islands (1896)
The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (1897)
Lord Jim (1900)
The Inheritors (with Ford Madox Ford) (1901)
Typhoon (1902, begun 1899)
Heart of Darkness (1902)
Romance (with Ford Madox Ford, 1903)
Nostromo (1904)
The Secret Agent (1907)
Under Western Eyes (1911)
Chance (1913)
Victory (1915)
The Shadow Line (1917)
The Arrow of Gold (1919)
The Rescue (1920)
The Nature of a Crime (1923, with Ford Madox Ford)
The Rover (1923)
Suspense: a Napoleonic Novel

Here you can find useful information about Conrad and his works.

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Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley: (1894-1963) he was born in Godalming (Surrey). His grandfather Thomas Henry Huxley  was a very important philologist and since he was a child he was surrounded by intellectual people.

In 1921 he published his first published novel  Crome Yellow . Aldous Huxley travelled for many years through Europe. In 1928 he published Point Counter Point, in which we can see some similarity to D. H. Lawrence  and philosophical and moral worries.

Brave New world appears in 1932 and it will be considered his most popular novel. Two years later he wrote Beyond the Mexique Bay one of his travel’s books. In 1936 he seems to be much more worried about moral and religious issues with the publication of Eyeless in Gaza .

His last book was Island , which was written in California before his death in 1963.

D. H. Lawrence wrote:

Thomas Henry Huxley  had given to Aldous’s generation “a disquieting scientific materialism” and to Huxley the courage to repudiate old and new superstitions, as repudiates the effects of the science and materialism of the moment.

There are so many things to say about him! His life was very interesting so I encourage you to read more about this fantastic author, one book that was quite useful for me was Aldous Huxley by José Angel Juanes.

Here you can see an interesting video in which his second wife talks about the moment he died.

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The Great Gatsby, by Francis Scott Fitzgerald (II)

You can see this video from the film The Great Gatsby (1974) starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. It shows a fantastic portrait of the American society during the 1920s. I recommend it to all of you!


The Great Gatsby is a profoundly historical novel. Gatsby is really an extended flashback: events are narrated by Nick Carraway some two years after they have occurred. This technique gives the novel a formal circularity –starting at the end, we move to the beginning and proceed back to the end). This is a typically Fitzgeraldian manner -nothing is fixed, everything is fluid, moving, changing.

Irrevocability of time. The present doesn’t count -it’s simply the ground upon which Gatsby stands while looking to the future where he sees the past.

Gatsby’s more famous remark about time reveals the refusal to recognize and accept temporality

Gatsby: “Can’t repeat the past… why of course you can!”

Gatsby is the uncontrolled romantic –his is the American dream of success. Money was a means rather than an end for him. Gatsby’s belief in his dream –which was being together with Daisy- was so great that only the dream existed for him. That’s why becoming wealthy like tom Buchanan and taking Daisy for himself becomes Gatsby’s consuming strategy.

Professor Ross Posnock believed that “Money has created this artificial world. As Marx reminds us, with the money to buy something comes the power to change reality into mere representation. Gatsby’s love is impotent and a misfortune because he doesn’t exchange love for love. Such a balanced, equal transaction is nearly impossible in capitalism –which is founded on profit, created by what Marx calls the surplus-value produced by unequal exchange.”

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Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf (I)

Mrs Dalloway was published in 1925. It is a complex modernist novel by Virginia Woolf. It is a wonderful study of its principal characters. The novel enters into the consciousness of the people it takes as it subjects, creating a powerful, psychologically authentic effect.

A general summary

The events narrated in Mrs Dalloway take place on a single day in June 1923. The novel begins with Clarissa Dalloway going out early in the morning to buy flowers for a party she is going to have at her house that evening. The novel closes as the party begins to fade at around midnight. Since the novel is not divided into chapters, the remark of the passage of time -from the Big Ben, or the clock at the Houses of Parliament- provides a regular and objective framework. The characters move around London all the time. The narration shifts from one character to another so that the events of the day are told from many points of view.  For much of the novel we follow the consciousness of Clarissa Dalloway.


Clarissa Dalloway -complex character. She married her husband to have more freedom for herself. She remembers the summer spent in Bourton with some friends -Peter, Richard,Sally,etc – when she was eighteen. The events of that summer influenced the entire couse of her life.

Peter Walsh- a romantic man who is still in love with Clarissa. She rejected him and decided to marry Richard Dalloway.

Richard Dalloway- the typical victorian man, he doesn’t express his feelings.He is a conservative member of Parliament.

Elizabeth Dalloway- the seventeen-year-old daughter of the Dalloways.

Septimus Warren Smith -a veteran of the war who suffers from delayed shell-shock and is mentally unbalanced. Refusing to submit to the power of doctors, he throws himself from his window and dies.

Sally Seton- a rebelious young girl who turns up at Clarissa’s party transformed into Lady Rosseter.

Possible Titles– Virginia Woolf thought about different titles for her most famous novel. They were:
The Hours, the importance of the time troughout the novel.

The Party, since everything is connected to it and expresses the frivolity of society

At home, with an ironic and ambivalent sense since it can a liberating or an oppressiveplace for a woman at that time.

Mrs Dalloway, which implies the supression of identity.

If you want to know something more about this novel and her author, click here!

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Clarissa, or, the story of a young lady, by Samuel Richardson

Plot Summary

Clarissa Harlowe tells the story of a virtuous, beautiful eighteen-year-old woman who is brought to tragedy by the wickedness of her world. Her family possesses great wealth but little status.
The trouble starts when Richard Lovelace comes to pay court to Clarissa’s sister, but is attracted by Clarissa instead.
The family forbids Clarissa from corresponding with Lovelace and commands her to marry a horrible rich man, Roger Solmes. Clarissa refuses and when she is able to run away, she is in Lovelace’s power. Roger is a manipulator who is in love with her, but hates the idea of marriage. His intention is to force Clarissa to compromise her strict morals, sully her reputation, and gain full control over her.
Clarissa’s virtue has a powerful effect on Lovelace and sometimes sways him away from his bad intentions. . Finally suspecting Lovelace’s vileness, Clarissa escapes, but Lovelace finds her and he rapes her. The rape has failed to put Clarissa fully in his power because she has never compromised her virtue, and she runs away again, this time successfully.
But once Clarissa has been raped, she stops eating and no longer worries about worldly problems like reputation. Her health steadily worsens, and she begins to prepare for death.
She finally dies, expressing forgiveness for everyone in her life and joyful anticipation of heaven.

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Samuel Richardson

Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) was a well known writer of the 18th century. But before being a writer he was a printer.
In 1738 his work as a printer was successful and a year later his friends asked him to write “a little volume of Letters, in a common style, on such subjects as might be of use to those country readers, who were unable to indite for themselves”; and it was when he was writing this book that he was inspired for his first and successful novel “Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded” . It took him five years to write his second and also successful novel “Clarissa, or the story of a young lady”. Between this two books he would also continue printing, and five years after his last book he published another novel “The History of Sir Charles Grandison”
Richardson died on the 4 of July of 1761 and was buried at St. Bride´s church near his first wife Martha.

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Pamela;or virtue rewarded, by Samuel Richardson

A general summary
The novel starts showing us the situation of Pamela, an educated and polite fifteen years-old maid, whose Lady has just died.
Before her death, this Lady recommends her servants and particularly Pamela to the Lady’s son: Mr. B. So he takes her into his service. However, Pamela begins to feel uncomfortable with him, as Mr. B becomes obsessed with Pamela. In the novel we can see Pamela’s efforts to keep her virtue. This is reflected when she speaks to her housekeeper, Mrs. Jervis, as well as in the great amount of letters Pamela writes to her parents, where, once again, she always emphasizes her virtue.
The rest of the novel deals with Pamela’s efforts to defend herself and her virtue from Mr. B.’s advances towards her, as well as her internal debate between love Mr. B and keep providing to her family, or holding true to her morals and losing her chance of a better life.
At the end, she agrees to marry him instead of simply let him taking advantage of her. Probably, because in this way, she retains her virtue and she also gains social status.

Formal analysis
Pamela; or virtue rewarded is an epistolary novel, in which Pamela reveals the intimate details of her everyday life in her journal and letters. This creates closeness with the reader as if we were the recipients of the letters and the readers of the journal. The reader sees everything through the character’s eyes, so in this way, there is no omniscient observer.
Samuel Richardson began writing Pamela in 1739 and it finally appeared in 1740 in two volumes, and it was soon considered, what we call today, a best-seller.
Obviously, the novel in letters had existed before Richardson, but not in any work of the same scope.
Pamela as she tells her story she is always in the middle of her own experience, which makes the narration fresh, even to herself. Thus, Richardson discovered a new way of writing that he called ‘writing to the moment’ which means that her thoughts are recorded nearly simultaneously with her actions. This technique will be later developed in his next work Clarissa.
It has often been said that Pamela begins a literary tradition which leads to the novels of Joyce or Virginia Woolf. But letters do not provide the stream of consciousness we see in Virginia Woolf novels. This is because writing a letter supposes some degree of wakefulness, a sense of order and a desire to communicate.
The novel as a genre has always pointed out this vision of unimportant people in history. People such as Lazarillo and Don Quixote who are not leaders and do not control their society, but they try to make their own way in it.
But if we compare Pamela to Don Quixote, we realise that she is a kind of reverse of Don Quixote: While he makes all his experience a reflection of the literature he has read, Pamela finds what she has read totally inadequate to what she is experiencing.
At one point in the novel Pamela says:
“…my soul is of equal importance with the soul of a princess…”
Roger Sharrock points out that Pamela is a making an obvious Christian statement with social implications .Because of this, we can deduce that Pamela considers herself as good as a lady who belongs to the aristocratic class.

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Virginia Woolf

Adeline Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Virginia Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group, which included her husband Leonard Woolf, E.M. Forster, Duncan Grant, Virginia’s sister, Vanessa Bell, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot.

Virginia Woolf’s works are closely linked to the development of feminist criticism, but she was also an important writer in the modernist movement. She revolutionized the novel with stream of consciousness, which allowed her to depict the inner lives of her characters in all too intimate detail.

Her most famous works include the novels Mrs. Dalloway(1925), To the lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A room of One’s Own (1929).

After his parents’ death, Woolf suffered from what is now known as a bipolar disorder, which is characterized by alternating moods of mania and depression.

She finally drowned herself in the river Ouse in 1941.

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Francis Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940) is probably one of the most remarkable writers of the XX century. Fitzgerald was born in Minnesota (North America) and belonged to a rather wealthy family. Fitzgerald novels, essays and tales were an actual reflection of his real life. He studied at Princeton University for some time but eventually he left it because he was not very good at the studies. However, there he met some of the most important writers of the later years: Edmund Wilson or J.P.Bishop.

 In fact this writer belonged to the “Lost Generation” (terms which was popularized by Hemingway). This generation was called this way because its members came to age during the First World War.

            Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre(Zelda Fitzgerald) in 1920 thanks to the money and importance he received after his first novel This side of paradise. And their only child called Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald was born a year after the marriage.

            A peculiar aspect of his wife (Zelda) is that it has served as an inspiration for the recent creation of a series of video-games which share the same name.

            About the literary production of Fitzgerald it must be mentioned his most famous and extended novel The great Gatsby. However, his works have been much moe numerous. Here you can see a list of his most important and read works:


            This side of paradise (being this his first novel and published in 1920)

            The beautiful and damned (1922)

            The great Gatsby (1925)

            Tender is the night (1934)

            The last tycoon (1941)

            Short stories (tales):

            Flappers and philosophers (1920)

            The curious case of Benjamin Button (which has recently been put out as a film staring Brad Pitt and the story was published in 1921)


            The crack-up (1945)


            The vegetable, or from president to postman (1923)

            (The photo in this post has been taken from:


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