“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” It’s one of the most famous opening lines in literature, that of Virginia Woolf’s beloved masterpiece of time, memory, and the city. In the wake of World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic, Clarissa Dalloway, elegant and vivacious, is preparing for a party and remembering those she once loved. In another part of London, Septimus Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Their days interweave and their lives converge as the party reaches its glittering climax. In a novel in which she perfects the interior monologue and recapitulates the life cycle in the hours of the day, from first light to the dark of night, Woolf achieves an uncanny simulacrum of consciousness, bringing past, present, and future together, and recording, impression by impression, minute by minute, the feel of life itself.
Penguin Vitae—loosely translated as “Penguin of one’s life”—is a deluxe hardcover series from Penguin Classics celebrating a dynamic and diverse landscape of classic fiction and nonfiction from seventy-five years of classics publishing. Penguin Vitae provides readers with beautifully designed classics that have shaped the course of their lives, and welcomes new readers to discover these literary gifts of personal inspiration, intellectual engagement, and creative originality.