The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway

Liveright. Sept. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781631496769. $35. LIT
Merve Emre’s (English literature, Oxford; The Ferrante Letters) lavish, detailed guide to a bellwether text of modern literature is a treasure trove. Published in 1925, Mrs. Dalloway traces the course of one day, following Clarissa Dalloway, a woman of great presence, and Septimus Warren Smith, a World War I veteran chased by visions. Clarissa undertakes errands before hosting a party. Septimus spends the day haunted by his thoughts and eventually dies by suicide, news Clarissa learns that evening. Emre begins her explication with an extensive introduction covering Woolf’s biography and an overview of the text and its creation. Then she annotates the novel with abundant images and excellent notes exploring the history of its era and setting, the multiple interests and designs of Woolf, and the evolving development of the characters. So rich and laden are Emre’s annotations that this edition is not ideal for those new to the novel since they will pull readers out of the story. Instead, pair it with the newly published Norton Modern Library edition of Mrs. Dalloway, also edited by Emre.
VERDICT A rich work that ably supports readers and teachers.
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