Mrs. Dalloway

The Equal and Damned: Sisyphus in Woolf’s London College

A slim volume seldom exceeding two-hundred pages, a cursory survey of Mrs. Dalloway hardly suggests the astronomical weight of literary and social significance critics have harvested from Woolf’s prose since it’s publication in 1925. At once revered as Britain’s archetypal post-war elegy, a twentieth-century feminist vindication, and a brave illustration of queer life blending into the fabric of a formerly monochromatic western liberalism, Woolf’s svelte masterpiece unwaveringly rivals the significance of even the most opaque literary anvils among its stream-of-consciousness brethren. However, while feminists, queer theorists, and post-war philosophers alike argue for the right to claim the novel as canonical to their own ideology, Mrs. Dalloway’s remarkable ability to transcend and unite social boundaries perhaps stems merely from a simple – and decidedly less optimistic – truth. Beneath differences in both sex and sexuality, the novel’s characters are united – or rather, estranged – by the inherent isolation of each individual. If Woolf transcends social boundaries, she does so only as a serendipitous byproduct of revealing the ultimate isolation intrinsic to human consciousness.

While Mrs. Dalloway is an earlier...

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