Genre: Literary Magazine
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Editor-in-Chief: Seb Emina
Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
For avid readers and the uninitiated alike, this is a chance to reengage with classic literature and to stay inspired and entertained.
The concept of the magazine is simple: the first half is a long-form interview with a notable book fanatic and the second half explores one classic work of literature from an array of surprising and invigorating angles.
In The Happy Reader 7, our summer is Virginia Woolf’s ground-breaking novel Mrs Dalloway and we welcome the inimitable genius of the curator, critic and author Hans-Ulrich Obrist as our cover star.
Now that I am suitably familiar with this magazine, I am enjoying it the way a regular reader would. I bought this issue only half an hour after it had been unpacked from the shop that stocks it, and began flicking through it straight away. Heading straight for part two, I perused the section dedicated to Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway, a novel that for me was both brilliant, outstanding, tiresome, and towards the end, boring. I’m always apologising to Virginia Woolf when I express negativity towards her. She was a brilliant writer who will still be being read in years to come, and if anything, I admire the feeling that her writing evokes in me, whether it be awe or boredom. She is very worthy of being book of the season, and I’m very glad The Happy Reader chose this particular book to explore. It almost makes me want to return to the novel (but not the ending, never the ending!)
Let’s go back a little and think about part one. The interview, or conversation, for this issue is with the art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. I’ve never heard of him, but that doesn’t impede on my enjoyment of the interview. As with previous issues I have read, it reads naturally and contains inspiring insights that bring out the creativity in me. With Hans being part of the art world, I couldn’t help the fact that this words brought out a need to be creative and to create something. I don’t know much about art, but Hans draws a link between art and books, and that books are like art exhibitions. I’m inclined to agree. Art is thought provoking, and can be showcased in many forms. The same can be said for books…experimental fiction is a kind of art, and so is traditionally written fiction. Both are able to make us think about the world around us and to consider it differently. The Happy Reader has made a good choice for the interview, especially to accompany Mrs Dalloway, a book which is written with such undeniably beautiful prose, that it would be a lie to say it isn’t a work of art.
This issue also contains a Mrs Dalloway themed crossword. I wasn’t expecting this, because usually the magazine doesn’t feature puzzles or anything interactive. The crossword is accompanied by a map, and the idea is that each clue is written about a specific location in London, which in turn relates to a particular scene in Woolf’s novel. To complete the crossword you need to visit these locations, and in doing so, follow in the footsteps of the characters in the novel. It is the stuff of genius. Unfortunately I don’t live in London, but I am going there in September and I fully intend to complete the crossword (or at least do my best!) and will document it in a future post.
This has got to be my favourite issue of The Happy Reader so far!
Link to the magazine on Goodreads: