“To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf

Wikipedia saysImage:

To the Lighthouse is a 1927 novel by Virginia Woolf. A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, which centres on the Ramsays and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skilfully manipulates temporal and psychological elements.

To the Lighthouse follows and extends the tradition of modernist novelists like Marcel Proust and James Joyce, where the plot is secondary to philosophical introspection, and the prose can be winding and hard to follow. The novel includes little dialogue and almost no action; most of it is written as thoughts and observations. The novel recalls childhood emotions and highlights adult relationships. Among the book’s many tropes and themes are those of loss, subjectivity, and the problem of perception.

In 1998, the Modern Library named To the Lighthouse No. 15 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.  In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_the_Lighthouse

We said:

(Jill’s summary of discussion by 10 people at our meeting on January 08 2013).

The meeting was fast and furious with opinion sharply divided between those who liked (or loved) the book finding it poetic, well-written, insightful and enjoyable and those who thought it boring, ‘dull dull b******s’, repetitive (and not in a good way) and unpleasant characters.

There was also some discussion of the place of women at the time and some interesting information about Virginia Woolf herself and the Bloomsbury Group.

At least one person said it was the best discussion he could remember and at least one person changed their mind about the book and was prepared to reread it.

A really wide range of points was given, from 2 to 10 with an average of 5.75.

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2 Comments

  1. hilaryfbbc

     /  January 20, 2013

    This was the first Virginia Woolf I have ever read and it was not all easy but very very interesting – in particular trying to see what she was saying about women’s position in the home or as an artist. I felt Mrs Ramsay was possibly in a state of mild depression (? post-natal origin) which is something that VW (although not a mother) would have understood. One aspect of the discussion of interest to me was the fact that each of us reads a book for different reasons and if the reader was looking for a robust story with clearly defined characters, and maybe wanting some escapism from their own situation, then this would not posibly be the book for them. I liked the way it came to an ending – the painting is finished and the lighthouse reached, even if none of life’s bigger problems were solved.
    I have followed this up by reading VW’s essay ‘A room of one’s own’ – based on a talk given to University women. (Available through Derbyshire libraries!) It is describing very clearly her thoughts on women, writing and writing fiction in particular. About 200 small pages, an evening’s read. Fascinating insight into the mind of a woman of her time – she even looks forward 100 years to when women have some of the advantages then denied to them. In essence she says a woman needs a space (room) of her own and an income to be able to be a writer. I’d highly recommend it – there is no stream of consciousness – a few references to names / authors we haven’t heard of but she also references Austen, the Brontes etc, lots of familiar names. A real cry to action for women to become writers. some real quotable quotes about the value of writing and reading that resonated loud and clear with me. (I will be buying a copy, not from Amazon though.)

    Reply
  1. Woolf: Fighting Material Realism | inkawhite

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