3 journalers for this copy...
April'05 - Ah ha, this book gets the dubious honour of being my oldest to-be-read. Well i'm putting that right...
(02/05) Finished, review to follow
According to the introduction by Quentin Bell (Virginia’s nephew and biographer), this book was written as a whimsical tribute to her bisexual friend and mentor Vita Sackville-West, and her family history and ancestral home, Knole, in Kent. Obviously not a ‘biography’ in the true sense, and not really a traditional novel either. The events span 5 centuries, from Elizabethan England - we first meet Orlando as the privileged son of a landed and noble family, and soon to be a favourite of Good Queen Bess – up to Orlando in the ‘present time’ (1928), as a 36 year-old wife, mother and writer in Edwardian London! As well as the age-defying & sex-changing devices, we also expected to believe all manner of bizarre twists (mostly the credulity of everyone around her/him) and dreamlike interludes in the life of Orlando. According to Woolf, Orlando is able to capture the qualities of both male and female, which she thought was so wonderful about Vita Sackville-West. However, we also witness the downside of being both a man and woman; for example, the female Orlando tries to reconcile her constraints (e.g. clothing, behaviour, society’s expectations), with the undeniable power at her beck and call, from the glimpse of an ankle, or the gushing complements and attention she receives for not much effort, excepting some of the discomforts of her sex, "these skirts are plaguey things to have about one’s heels."
At one point, Orlando joins up with a band of gypsies in the hills around Constantinopole after a popular uprising (he was British Ambassador at time), and she becomes homesick for her 365-room mansion, and the proud legacy of a 400 year family history. The travelling band feel uncomfortable pity for her (if not disdain), for they can measure their ancestry over thousands of years, and look upon the whole world as their domain!
Literature (and its eminent place in the meaning of life) is also another strong theme running through the book; whether poetry or prose; whether writing is best done for private or public consumption; the inherent loneliness, immortality & ‘specialness’ of the species of writer. To finish, part of one of many soliloquies from Orlando, about the nature of reading,
"...he was a nobleman afflicted with a love of literature. Many people of his time, still more of his rank, escaped the infection and were thus free to run or ride or make love at their own sweet will."
Book crossers beware!!
Released 14 yrs ago (5/14/2005 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Pre-release for tomorrow's Ipswich meet-up
I enjoyed reading Mrs Dalloway and I am looking forward to reading this. Picked up at a very fine, and quite populous, Ipswich meetup.
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Not me! She needs to stop being so snobby, and to learn to use a full stop.
Quite enjoyed this book, but kept searching for some deeper, meatier meaning. Checked with my friends with English degrees whether I was missing something. Apparently, not. In the words of one friend "Everyone thinks Virginia Woolf is so deep and difficult and clever, and she's not always." This must be her being not.
Shall release at Unconvention 2005.
I picked this up because I've been thinking about reading it for a while. Curious about how long BookGroupMan had been hoarding it on his TBR pile ;)
This came in very handy when it turned out to be on the book list for my Open University course. Loved the course, but this book left me a little puzzled. So much so that I opted to write my essay on Brecht instead of Woolf! (Still prefer Mrs Dalloway)
Going to somebody else via bookmooch.com