review ¾ Orlando A Biography 105

characters Orlando A Biography

review ¾ Orlando A Biography 105 ✓ Virginia Woolf's Orlando 'The longest and most charming love letter in literature' playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover Vita Sackville West Spanning three centuries the novel opens as Orlando a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England awaits a visiVirginia Woolf's Orlando 'The longest and most charming love letter in literature' playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover Vita Sackville West Spanning three centuries the novel opens as Orlando a young nobleman in. I'm sick to death of this particular self I want another Orlando to me is a dream come true in literature Being able to move in time and space and to change my gender with my moods is a deeply satisfying idea It is the uintessence of what reading means in my life the opportunity to leave my own life behind and step into the body and soul of other people only to move on again when I feel like it I can be intensely engaged for a week and then put the adventure safely into my memory and try something different Orlando is a hymn to reading and imagination and love It is a break from conventions and a story heavy as a heart and light as a featherLove it

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Elizabeth's England awaits a visit from the ueen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost At the midpoint of the novel Orlando now an ambassador in Constantinople awakes to find that he is now a woman and t. My second reading of Orlando bore out my overriding impression the first time I read it – that this is a brilliant comic performance until Woolf before finishing runs out of steam Towards the end it becomes apparent she’s no longer in the same spirit with which she began the book What begins as pure parody ends up a serious attempt to understand her subject The delicious light skip of her lyrical irony no longer seems at the beck and call of her wit towards the end You can sense even see that she’s already beginning to formulate both A Room of one’s Own and The Waves Her lightly handled mischievous mockery of the conventional historian and biographer is replaced by a heavy handed feminist polemic and awkward overly lyrical philosophical musings on the nature of fame and multiple incarnations of self She’s lost the original spirit It’s as if a children’s play about pirates and mermaids ends with a religious sermon As Shakespeare demonstrated if you start off silly you should probably end silly Imagine if at the end of As You Like It all the characters held forth on the psychological and philosophical connotations of why they changed sex during the play Basically Virginia tries to force a resolution on this novel that is completely at odds with its spirit And for that reason all the tension goes out of it in the last fifty pages The first half of Orlando pastiches the traditional historianbiographer as mischievously and hilariously as Nabokov’s brilliant Pale Fire pastiches establishment’s literary critic It’s the work of a writer inspired on a roll and thank heavens we have this evidence of Woolf’s comic genius Anyone who thinks of Woolf as a rather pretentious humourless prig clearly hasn’t read Orlando Of all her books it’s the one which most gives you an idea of what she was like at a dinner table Thus ironically the most biographical in terms of giving us some essence of the social Virginia – offhand witty versatile self deprecating a show off intellectual silly indignant giggling Orlando is like a guided tour through VW’s likes and dislikes We learn what pleases her and what angers her and of course she writes beautifully of her love of England its countryside its history and its capital There’s also a sense that she’s sometimes showing off with certain friends in mind – you realise while reading this book that there’s a subtle but hugely significant difference between genius in full stride and showing off even though genius in full stride can seem like showing off it never uite does You don’t see the performance Here you sometimes can see the performance You can see the anatomy of the dance steps rather than one continuous fluid motion So who was she showing off to I don’t think it was Vita at all It might have started as a bit of fun with Vita in mind but to my mind it’s Lytton Strachey she’s often thinking about while writing this He was the writer who sought to revolutionise biography as a form and probably the male intellect among her brother’s formally educated friends she was most intimidated by It’s like she’s now found the confidence to feel herself his eual which she didn’t feel as a young woman While he was receiving his Cambridge education she was compelled to read many of the countless biographies in her father’s library No wonder she hates conventional biography so much Orlando was her revenge on all those dull male minds who believed identity was constructed from dates battles rank and official documents The same kind of men who believed women were better seen and not heard What does all this have to do with Vita For me far too much has been made of her relationship with Vita Nearly all my female friends have had lesbian crushes at some point in their lives It’s something we laugh about; not something that history should use to define who we are The idea that had Woolf lived in tolerant times she would have lived happily in a lesbian relationship to my mind is just daft as daft in its way as the convictions held by the historians and biographers she mocks in this bookIn relation to VW's other books I'd give this four stars but because it's clearly better than 99% of the books on Goodreads it has to get five

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Orlando A BiographyHe novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries As the novel ends in 1928 a year consonant with full suffrage for women Orlando now a wife and mother stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for wom. I knew for sure I wasn't expecting anything like 'To the Lighthouse' with Orlando but what I didn't know is just how much sheer pleasure Orlando would end up giving me as this went right beyond my expectations the days reading it seemed invigorated somehow Woolf has broken with tradition and convention and has set out to explore a kind of fourth dimensional approach to writing Not that she has abandoned the stream of consciousness method which she used with such conspicuous success in her previous novels but with it she has combined what for lack of a better term we might describe as an application to writing of the theory of relativity In this novel or biography however one chooses to see it she is largely preoccupied with the time element in character and human relationships and with a statement of the exact complexion of that intangible moment a combination of past and future of objective reality and subjective awareness which we refer to as the presentWoolf’s hero heroine man woman he she is hundreds of years old lucky himher At the beginning of the book Orlando is an adolescent male melancholic indolent loving solitude and given to writing poetry; the age is the Elizabethan; the book ends on the 11th of October 1928 and Orlando is a thoroughly modern matron of 36 who has published a successful book of poems and has evolved a hard earned philosophy of life Thus to express her very modern fourth dimensional concepts Woolf has fallen back upon one of the most ancient of literary forms the allegory In doing so she has left the novel perhaps confusing than was strictly necessary However I personally think nothing should have been any different Woolf knocked me for six here there and everywhere Ultimately she written a book of genius Starting around the time of The Great Frost of 160809 where birds froze whilst flying and hurtled to the ground Orlando moves on to languorous sunny afternoons spent in the shade of oak trees and the hot sun of Turkey Even so this could be classed as a winter read As Orlando never leaves the ice entirely since he and then she is simply frozen in time Even hundreds of years later there remains the same person who fell in love on those winter days in the 17th century and those heady days breathe their cold magic throughout this strange sometimes bewildering but generally wonderful novel Plus Woolf can't resist returning to the cold now and again most notably in her description of the permanent winter damp and black cloud that hung over the 19th centuryAfter Orlando’s attempts to adjust herself to the conventions of nineteenth century England Woolf excels with by far the most stimulating section of the book describing Orlando at the present moment and traces with breath taking delicacy the influence of her past upon her present It is deep in the book when suddenly Orlando springs startlingly to life not that there was anything wrong previously but up to a point it had seemed a pleasant narrative made notable by a number of passages of great beauty love and attention and by occasional bits of vivid description but marred slightly by a rather self conscious mischievousness on the part of the author Having said that even it's worst bits were still seriously goodIn the closing pages she welds compactly what had seemed to be a series of loosely connected episodes In them she seems to reach down into the rabbit hole for the whole superstructure of life and to lay bare a new or at least a hitherto unperceived arrangement of those ephemeral flashes of memory of perception that makes up consciousness But she has carried the stream of consciousness techniue a step further Not being satisfied to present a succession of thoughts and sensations passing through the mind she shows what is behind those thoughts and sensations whence they spring and how great their relative value In attempting to describe such subtle and elusive ualities Woolf has faced suarely one of the most puzzling technical and esthetic problems that plague contemporary novelists The mere fact that she has stated the problem as succinctly as she does in the course of this book is immensely stimulating whether or not one feels that she has achieved the final solution to it I have to say I could read all the writings of Virginia Woolf under the sun which is unlikely but you never know and nothing else would be as rousing as this She clearly put a lot of passion into writing this book and in the case of the reader me I was completely won over A dizzy and captivating reading experience Just hope I don't wake up in the morning and find I am now Stephanie