Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” is a revolutionary novel of profound scope and depth, about a day in the life of a woman who runs a few errands, sees an old suitor and gives a dull party. It’s a masterpiece created out of the humblest narrative materials.
Woolf was among the first writers to understand that there are no insignificant lives, only inadequate ways of looking at them. In “Mrs. Dalloway,” Woolf insists that a single, outwardly ordinary day in the life of a woman named Clarissa Dalloway, an outwardly rather ordinary person, contains just about everything one needs to know about human life, in more or less the way nearly every cell contains the entirety of an organism’s DNA.
With “Mrs. Dalloway,” Woolf asserted as well that we are all embarked on epic journeys of our own, even though, to the untrained eye, some of us, many of us, might look as if we’re only there to tidy up or to do our best to amuse our bosses.