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review 2017-11-29 22:07
To the Lighthouse
To The Lighthouse: (Annotated) - Virginia Woolf

Okay, I'll admit it, I got a little lost in the language. It took me longer than normal to get through To the Lighthouse. I had begun trying to let my Echo read it to me, which I have loved to do to get ahead on some reading while doing household chores but it let me down here. It was all the sentences that ran far too long with too many semicolons. It drove me a little crazy, so I had to change methods. I went back to reading it like a normal ebook. The magic of the book is in it's insight into normalcy. There's nothing unusual about any of its characters but To the Lighthouse looks deeper into the family and those who surround them than most books do these days. Each characters gets POV time and with each character you understand their alliances within the family, the reasons for their alliances, who they are allied against and why, their hopes and frustrations. One of the great things about reading it so far removed from the time and place when it was written is seeing the way the family of that time worked and how they depended on each other. It wasn't a fun book to read but it's a valuable book when looking at progress and the lives of women and the way that plays into the family life. While it shouldn't alone speak for the family dynamic of the time, it's very existence is proof that things were not perfect before women to work en masse in the second wave feminism. The roles of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay may have complimented each other functionally, I hesitate to believe that either was better off than a modern family. I'd love to have read this for a college class that dove deeper into what it all meant and the inner lives of each character. I feel a little like reading it for a reading challenge for a blog took a lot of the fun out of it but I don't know anyone else who has read it. Such is fate. This was my choice for Read Harder 2017 Task 7: Read a book published between 1900 and 1950 (first published 1927).

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review 2017-10-03 00:00
To the Lighthouse
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/166001786448/to-the-lighthouse-by-virginia-woolf

What art was there, known to love or cunning, by which one pressed through into those secret chambers.

One of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Not much to offer in the typical plot-driven genre, but a generous array of dream states in which only the best hallucinogens could induce.

…Her going was a reproach to them, gave a different twist to the world, so that they were led to protest, seeing their own prepossessions disappear, and clutch at them vanishing…

Mrs. Ramsey, even while dead, continues to submit her hold on them. And her husband, Mr. Ramsey, in his demeanor, perpetually exacts his indifference.

…Half one’s notions of other people were, after all, grotesque. They served private purposes of one’s own…

And Lily Briscoe, with an expressive brush to artistic fabric, creates nothing but her profound revision of this world.
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review 2017-08-18 19:14
A Writer's Diary, Virginia Woolf
A Writer's Diary - Virginia Woolf,Leonard Woolf

For lovers of Virginia Woolf, but also those interested in writing itself, as well as history (Woolf details the approach and beginning of World War II, including the bombing of her home in London). This "writer's diary," edited by husband and first reader, Leonard Woolf, comprises those entries where Woolf discusses her writing and reading as well as encounters with literary acquaintances.


There is a pattern to her writing process whereby she's excited about a new idea (which sometimes comes while she's working on another project) and rides a sort of high until she completes it. This is followed by depression and ambivalent feelings about reviews. Some books come easier than others, but the overall pattern remains the same. Every one feels like it might be a failure or badly reviewed, and she attempts to convince herself she doesn't care. The ups and downs in her mood suggest bipolar disorder, which contemporary psychologists believe afflicted her. Knowing her fate (she drowned herself not long after the last entry of this diary) made reading portions very sad.


On the other hand, Woolf felt she had just begun to know her own mind in her 40s, which gives me hope! Elements of her process and the way one negative review overrode all the positive responses created a sense of affinity for me as a writer. Woolf changed literature, and I'm glad she kept such a diary.

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review 2017-08-08 21:24
'The Hours' well spent
The Hours - Michael Cunningham

This short book was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1999 and takes as its start point the graphic suicide of Virginia Woolf. The tragic loss of one of the leading lights of the 'Bloomsbury Group' in 1941, finally succumbing to the fatal depths of recurrent depression at the age of just 59, conferred a profound loss on the cultural health of a nation, yet posterity has rightly lauded the author's legacy. In his homage to Woolf, Michael Cunningham interweaves the thoughts and experiences of three female characters: Mrs Woolf (Virginia), Mrs Brown (Laura) and Mrs Dalloway (Clarissa), Located in 1923 London, 1949 L.A. and 1990s New York , respectively. Virginia is mulling over ideas for the fictional character yet to inhabit her most famous novel, while Clarissa and Laura are spending a day in preparation for a celebration in their respective times and place. Successive chapters rotate between the discrete storylines  culminating in an unusual cross-over in the end, but the snapshots also draw on some common themes, which beset each of the protagonists, irrespective of the prevailing social norms in 'their' time.


What rescues the book from a sense of cerebral indulgence on the part of the writer though, is the moving beauty of the language and as the reader quaffs down the pages like a smooth, warming liqueur, it is good to savour the interplay of quite sumptuous tones. It also remains consistent with the 'stream of consciousness' storytelling deployed by Woolf in 'Mrs Dalloway' (published 1925), albeit this example is not entirely satisfying, given its fragmentary nature and slightly bitter aftertaste


Still, the takeaway theme for me from this book is the individual capacity, indeed responsibility, to create and shape one's life, within the context of the prevailing time and to weigh the personal sacrifices and gains that attend our choices. Some of the metaphors were also interesting, for example, some mistakes such as cake-making are retrievable, others require stoicism to deal with the consequences, but when it comes down to it, life and love is fundamentally fragile...and fickle.

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review 2017-08-07 00:00
The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature
The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, ... The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature - Bill Goldstein The web of all four writers hinges both on their mutual relationships and on the censorship issues of their time. A very interesting read and fascinating study for the literary ones among us. Well-written and easily engaged. On a personal note I did find Virginia Woolf imminently more interesting than the three men also intimately exposed.
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