To the Lighthouse

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The novel that established Virginia Woolf as a leading writer of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramseys face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and its greatest triumph-the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, it also has profoundly universal implications, giving ...
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To the Lighthouse (Collins Classics)

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Overview

The novel that established Virginia Woolf as a leading writer of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramseys face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and its greatest triumph-the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, it also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.

There are very few exceptional and miraculous novels that have the power to change their readers forever. To the Lighthouse is one of them.

A landmark of modern fiction and Virginia Woolf's most popular novel, first published in 1927. To the Lighthouse explores the subjective reality of the everyday life of the Ramsay family of the British Hebrides islands. A 'feminine' book, filled with irony, sadness, and doubts about life.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Virginia Woolf stands as the chief figure of modernism in England and must be included with Joyce and Proust in the realization of experiments that have completely broken with tradition.
New York Times
Publishers Weekly
It's wondrous to listen to a fine reading of a long-loved novel. Leishman makes masterly use of volume, timbre and resonance to distinguish between characters and draw us into the emotional swings and vibrations of the internal musings of each. She creates not a new but a more nuanced reading, following the interwoven streams of consciousness in a British English that lends authenticity to each voice. Leishman swims smoothly through Woolf's sentences that ebb and flow with numerous parenthetical thoughts and fresh images. These passages are interspersed with quick, sharp, simple sentences that gain strength in contrast. Leishman also draws our attention to Woolf's poetic prose: her rhythms and images, her use of hard consonants in monosyllabic words in counterpoint to long, soft, dreamy words and phrases. To The Lighthouse plays back and forth between telescopic and microscopic views of nature and human nature. Mrs. Ramsey is both trapped in and pleased in her roles as wife, mother and hostess. The introspective Mr. Ramsey is consumed with his legacy of long-since-published abstract philosophy. This is a book that cannot be read-or heard-too often. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
New York Times Book Review
Virginia Woolf stands as the chief figure of modernism in England and must be included with Joyce and Proust in the realization of experiments that have completely broken with tradition. -- The New York Times
From the Publisher
To the Lighthouse is one of the greatest elegies in the
English language, a book which transcends time.” –Margaret Drabble

“Without question one of the two or three finest novels of the twentieth century. Woolf comments on the most pressing dramas of our human predicament: war, mortality, family, love. If you’re like me you’ll come back to this book often, always astounded, always moved, always refreshed.” –Rick Moody

“[Woolf’s] people are astoundingly real…The tragic futility, the absurdity, the pathetic beauty, of life–we experience all of this in our sharing of seven hours of Mrs. Ramsay’s wasted or not wasted existence.
We have seen, through her, the world.” –Conrad Aiken

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.

Biography

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her stepsister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favorite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid. With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938). Her major novels include Mrs. Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941).

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Adeline Virginia Stephen Woolf (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 25, 1882
    2. Place of Birth:
      London
    1. Date of Death:
      March 28, 1941
    2. Place of Death:
      Sussex, England

Read an Excerpt

"YES, OF COURSE, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsay. "But you'll have to be up with the lark," she added.

To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as if it were settled, the expedition were bound to take place, and the wonder to which he had looked forward, for years and years it seemed, was, after a night's darkness and a day's sail, within touch. Since he belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand, since to such people even in earliest childhood any turn in the wheel of sensation has the power to crystallise and transfix the moment upon which its gloom or radiance rests, James Ramsay, sitting on the floor cutting out pictures from the illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores, endowed the picture of a refrigerator, as his mother spoke, with heavenly bliss. It was fringed with joy. The wheelbarrow, the lawnmower, the sound of poplar trees, leaves whitening before rain, rooks cawing, brooms knocking, dresses rustling- all these were so coloured and distinguished in his mind that he had already his private code, his secret language, though he appeared the image of stark and uncompromising severity, with his high forehead and his fierce blue eyes, impeccably candid and pure, frowning slightly at the sight of human frailty, so that his mother, watching him guide his scissors neatly round the refrigerator, imagined him all red and ermine on the Bench or directing a stern and momentous enterprise in some crisis of public affairs.

"But," said his father, stopping in front of the drawing-room window, "it won't be fine."

Had there been an axe handy, or a poker, any weapon that would have gashed a hole in his father's breast and killed him, there and then, James would have seized it. Such were the extremes of emotion that Mr. Ramsay excited in his children's breasts by his mere presence; standing, as now, lean as a knife, narrow as the blade of one, grinning sarcastically, not only with the pleasure of disillusioning his son and casting ridicule upon his wife, who was ten thousand times better in every way than he was (James thought), but also with some secret conceit at his own accuracy of judgement. What he said was true. It was always true. He was incapable of untruth; never tampered with a fact; never altered a disagreeable word to suit the pleasure or convenience of any mortal being, least of all of his own children, who, sprung from his loins, should be aware from childhood that life is difficult; facts uncompromising; and the passage to that fabled land where our brightest hopes are extinguished, our frail barks founder in darkness (here Mr. Ramsay would straighten his back and narrow his little blue eyes upon the horizon), one that needs, above all, courage, truth, and the power to endure.

"But it may be fine-I expect it will be fine," said Mrs. Ramsay, making some little twist of the reddish-brown stocking she was knitting, impatiently. If she finished it tonight, if they did go to the Lighthouse after all, it was to be given to the Lighthouse keeper for his little boy, who was threatened with a tuberculous hip; together with a pile of old magazines, and some tobacco, indeed, whatever she could find lying about, not really wanted, but only littering the room, to give those poor fellows, who must be bored to death sitting all day with nothing to do but polish the lamp and trim the wick and rake about on their scrap of garden, something to amuse them. For how would you like to be shut up for a whole month at a time, and possibly more in stormy weather, upon a rock the size of a tennis lawn? she would ask; and to have no letters or newspapers, and to see nobody; if you were married, not to see your wife, not to know how your children were,-if they were ill, if they had fallen down and broken their legs or arms; to see the same dreary waves breaking week after week, and then a dreadful storm coming, and the windows covered with spray, and birds dashed against the lamp, and the whole place rocking, and not be able to put your nose out of doors for fear of being swept into the sea? How would you like that? she asked, addressing herself particularly to her daughters. So she added, rather differently, one must take them whatever comforts one can.

"It's due west," said the atheist Tansley, holding his bony fingers spread so that the wind blew through them, for he was sharing Mr. Ramsay's evening walk up and down, up and down the terrace. That is to say, the wind blew from the worst possible direction for landing at the Lighthouse. Yes, he did say disagreeable things, Mrs. Ramsay admitted; it was odious of him to rub this in, and make James still more disappointed; but at the same time, she would not let them laugh at him. "The atheist," they called him; "the little atheist." Rose mocked him; Prue mocked him; Andrew, Jasper, Roger mocked him; even old Badger without a tooth in his head had bit him, for being (as Nancy put it) the hundred and tenth young man to chase them all the way up to the Hebrides when it was ever so much nicer to be alone.

"Nonsense," said Mrs. Ramsay, with great severity. Apart from the habit of exaggeration which they had from her, and from the implication (which was true) that she asked too many people to stay, and had to lodge some in the town, she could not bear incivility to her guests, to young men in particular, who were poor as church mice, "exceptionally able," her husband said, his great admirers, and come there for a holiday. Indeed, she had the whole of the other sex under her protection; for reasons she could not explain, for their chivalry and valour, for the fact that they negotiated treaties, ruled India, controlled finance; finally for an attitude towards herself which no woman could fail to feel or to find agreeable, something trustful, childlike, reverential; which an old woman could take from a young man without loss of dignity, and woe betide the girl-pray Heaven it was none of her daughters!-who did not feel the worth of it, and all that it implied, to the marrow of her bones!

She turned with severity upon Nancy. He had not chased them, she said. He had been asked.

They must find a way out of it all. There might be some simpler way, some less laborious way, she sighed. When she looked in the glass and saw her hair grey, her cheek sunk, at fifty, she thought, possibly she might have managed things better-her husband; money; his books. But for her own part she would never for a single second regret her decision, evade difficulties, or slur over duties. She was now formidable to behold, and it was only in silence, looking up from their plates, after she had spoken so severely about Charles Tansley, that her daughters, Prue, Nancy, Rose-could sport with infidel ideas which they had brewed for themselves of a life different from hers; in Paris, perhaps; a wilder life; not always taking care of some man or other; for there was in all their minds a mute questioning of deference and chivalry, of the Bank of England and the Indian Empire, of ringed fingers and lace, though to them all there was something in this of the essence of beauty, which called out the manliness in their girlish hearts, and made them, as they sat at table beneath their mother's eyes, honour her strange severity, her extreme courtesy, like a Queen's raising from the mud to wash a beggar's dirty foot, when she thus admonished them so very severely about that wretched atheist who had chased them-or, speaking accurately, been invited to stay with them-in the Isles of Skye.

"There'll be no landing at the Lighthouse tomorrow," said Charles Tansley, clapping his hands together as he stood at the window with her husband. Surely, he had said enough. She wished they would both leave her and James alone and go on talking. She looked at him. He was such a miserable specimen, the children said, all humps and hollows. He couldn't play cricket; he poked; he shuffled. He was a sarcastic brute, Andrew said. They knew what he liked best-to be for ever walking up and down, up and down, with Mr. Ramsay, and saying who had won this, who had won that, who was a "first-rate man" at Latin verses, who was "brilliant but I think fundamentally unsound," who was undoubtedly the "ablest fellow in Balliol," who had buried his light temporarily at Bristol or Bedford, but was bound to be heard of later when his Prolegomena, of which Mr. Tansley had the first pages in proof with him if Mr. Ramsay would like to see them, to some branch of mathematics or philosophy saw the light of day. That was what they talked about.

She could not help laughing herself sometimes. She said, the other day, something about "waves mountains high." Yes, said Charles Tansley, it was a little rough. "Aren't you drenched to the skin?" she had said. "Damp, not wet through," said Mr. Tansley, pinching his sleeve, feeling his socks.

Copyright 1927 by Harcourt, Inc.
Copyright renewed 1955 by Leonard Woolf
Annotated Edition copyright © 2005 by Harcourt, Inc.
Introduction copyright © 2005 by Mark Hussey

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
The Window 3
Time Passes 125
The Lighthouse 145
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First Chapter

"YES, OF COURSE, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsay. "But you'll have to be up with the lark," she added.

To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as if it were settled, the expedition were bound to take place, and the wonder to which he had looked forward, for years and years it seemed, was, after a night's darkness and a day's sail, within touch. Since he belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand, since to such people even in earliest childhood any turn in the wheel of sensation has the power to crystallise and transfix the moment upon which its gloom or radiance rests, James Ramsay, sitting on the floor cutting out pictures from the illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores, endowed the picture of a refrigerator, as his mother spoke, with heavenly bliss. It was fringed with joy. The wheelbarrow, the lawnmower, the sound of poplar trees, leaves whitening before rain, rooks cawing, brooms knocking, dresses rustling- all these were so coloured and distinguished in his mind that he had already his private code, his secret language, though he appeared the image of stark and uncompromising severity, with his high forehead and his fierce blue eyes, impeccably candid and pure, frowning slightly at the sight of human frailty, so that his mother, watching him guide his scissors neatly round the refrigerator, imagined him all red and ermine on the Bench or directing a stern and momentous enterprise in some crisis of public affairs.

"But," said his father, stopping in front of the drawing-room window,"it won't be fine."

Had there been an axe handy, or a poker, any weapon that would have gashed a hole in his father's breast and killed him, there and then, James would have seized it. Such were the extremes of emotion that Mr. Ramsay excited in his children's breasts by his mere presence; standing, as now, lean as a knife, narrow as the blade of one, grinning sarcastically, not only with the pleasure of disillusioning his son and casting ridicule upon his wife, who was ten thousand times better in every way than he was (James thought), but also with some secret conceit at his own accuracy of judgement. What he said was true. It was always true. He was incapable of untruth; never tampered with a fact; never altered a disagreeable word to suit the pleasure or convenience of any mortal being, least of all of his own children, who, sprung from his loins, should be aware from childhood that life is difficult; facts uncompromising; and the passage to that fabled land where our brightest hopes are extinguished, our frail barks founder in darkness (here Mr. Ramsay would straighten his back and narrow his little blue eyes upon the horizon), one that needs, above all, courage, truth, and the power to endure.

"But it may be fine-I expect it will be fine," said Mrs. Ramsay, making some little twist of the reddish-brown stocking she was knitting, impatiently. If she finished it tonight, if they did go to the Lighthouse after all, it was to be given to the Lighthouse keeper for his little boy, who was threatened with a tuberculous hip; together with a pile of old magazines, and some tobacco, indeed, whatever she could find lying about, not really wanted, but only littering the room, to give those poor fellows, who must be bored to death sitting all day with nothing to do but polish the lamp and trim the wick and rake about on their scrap of garden, something to amuse them. For how would you like to be shut up for a whole month at a time, and possibly more in stormy weather, upon a rock the size of a tennis lawn? she would ask; and to have no letters or newspapers, and to see nobody; if you were married, not to see your wife, not to know how your children were,-if they were ill, if they had fallen down and broken their legs or arms; to see the same dreary waves breaking week after week, and then a dreadful storm coming, and the windows covered with spray, and birds dashed against the lamp, and the whole place rocking, and not be able to put your nose out of doors for fear of being swept into the sea? How would you like that? she asked, addressing herself particularly to her daughters. So she added, rather differently, one must take them whatever comforts one can.

"It's due west," said the atheist Tansley, holding his bony fingers spread so that the wind blew through them, for he was sharing Mr. Ramsay's evening walk up and down, up and down the terrace. That is to say, the wind blew from the worst possible direction for landing at the Lighthouse. Yes, he did say disagreeable things, Mrs. Ramsay admitted; it was odious of him to rub this in, and make James still more disappointed; but at the same time, she would not let them laugh at him. "The atheist," they called him; "the little atheist." Rose mocked him; Prue mocked him; Andrew, Jasper, Roger mocked him; even old Badger without a tooth in his head had bit him, for being (as Nancy put it) the hundred and tenth young man to chase them all the way up to the Hebrides when it was ever so much nicer to be alone.

"Nonsense," said Mrs. Ramsay, with great severity. Apart from the habit of exaggeration which they had from her, and from the implication (which was true) that she asked too many people to stay, and had to lodge some in the town, she could not bear incivility to her guests, to young men in particular, who were poor as church mice, "exceptionally able," her husband said, his great admirers, and come there for a holiday. Indeed, she had the whole of the other sex under her protection; for reasons she could not explain, for their chivalry and valour, for the fact that they negotiated treaties, ruled India, controlled finance; finally for an attitude towards herself which no woman could fail to feel or to find agreeable, something trustful, childlike, reverential; which an old woman could take from a young man without loss of dignity, and woe betide the girl-pray Heaven it was none of her daughters!-who did not feel the worth of it, and all that it implied, to the marrow of her bones!

She turned with severity upon Nancy. He had not chased them, she said. He had been asked.

They must find a way out of it all. There might be some simpler way, some less laborious way, she sighed. When she looked in the glass and saw her hair grey, her cheek sunk, at fifty, she thought, possibly she might have managed things better-her husband; money; his books. But for her own part she would never for a single second regret her decision, evade difficulties, or slur over dutiess. She was now formidable to behold, and it was only in silence, looking up from their plates, after she had spoken so severely about Charles Tansley, that her daughters, Prue, Nancy, Rose-could sport with infidel ideas which they had brewed for themselves of a life different from hers; in Paris, perhaps; a wilder life; not always taking care of some man or other; for there was in all their minds a mute questioning of deference and chivalry, of the Bank of England and the Indian Empire, of ringed fingers and lace, though to them all there was something in this of the essence of beauty, which called out the manliness in their girlish hearts, and made them, as they sat at table beneath their mother's eyes, honour her strange severity, her extreme courtesy, like a Queen's raising from the mud to wash a beggar's dirty foot, when she thus admonished them so very severely about that wretched atheist who had chased them-or, speaking accurately, been invited to stay with them-in the Isles of Skye.

"There'll be no landing at the Lighthouse tomorrow," said Charles Tansley, clapping his hands together as he stood at the window with her husband. Surely, he had said enough. She wished they would both leave her and James alone and go on talking. She looked at him. He was such a miserable specimen, the children said, all humps and hollows. He couldn't play cricket; he poked; he shuffled. He was a sarcastic brute, Andrew said. They knew what he liked best-to be for ever walking up and down, up and down, with Mr. Ramsay, and saying who had won this, who had won that, who was a "first-rate man" at Latin verses, who was "brilliant but I think fundamentally unsound," who was undoubtedly the "ablest fellow in Balliol," who had buried his light temporarily at Bristol or Bedford, but was bound to be heard of later when his Prolegomena, of which Mr. Tansley had the first pages in proof with him if Mr. Ramsay would like to see them, to some branch of mathematics or philosophy saw the light of day. That was what they talked about.

She could not help laughing herself sometimes. She said, the other day, something about "waves mountains high." Yes, said Charles Tansley, it was a little rough. "Aren't you drenched to the skin?" she had said. "Damp, not wet through," said Mr. Tansley, pinching his sleeve, feeling his socks.


Copyright 1927 by Harcourt, Inc.
Copyright renewed 1955 by Leonard Woolf
Annotated Edition copyright © 2005 by Harcourt, Inc.
Introduction copyright © 2005 by Mark Hussey

All rights reserved.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 54 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2003

    Excellent book!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Though it was somewhat difficult to get through, it was amazingly written. I read the book 6 months ago, and I can still vividly remember scenes from the book. I especially liked the one and only scene in the book with Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey alone. I still remember it after all these months.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Frustrating

    I read about two books per month, usually choosing a variety of historical fiction and modern classics. I admit that I could not finish reading To the Lighthouse. Although pieces of the novel were very poetic, I found the style very frustrating to read. The narrative is mainly the mixed up thoughts of the characters and their thoughts jump wildly so that you don't know if the character is speaking aloud or not. There are pages of confusing thoughts involving a single few seconds of action. I would not recommend this book to the average modern reader.

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2004

    Simply Brilliant

    Ms. Woolf has crafted some of the most wondeful, idiosyncratic and mystifying sentences in the English language, and, in the process, has created a portrait of a family that is unerring in its truth. Yes, the book is difficult, but the rewards are great, as the changes wrought by war, death, marriage, age and life itself are slowly revealed. This is my favorite book because it exemplifies all that literature can be and more, and I'm only 17. If I can reap the benefits of such a literary wonder, you can too.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2001

    A True Master of Imagery and Emotion

    This book was my first encounter with Virginia Woolf's work and it will certainly not be the last. From the moment I opened the book, I was engrossed with Virginia's ability to create an ebb and flow of human emotion mirror the actual presence of the ocean. As you read the innermost thought of the characters you connect with them, seeing small clips of characteristics that describe yourself. This book is a minor taste of the stream-of-consciousness movement that Woolf was a part of, but is not as difficult to follow as the works of Joyce and others.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2012

    Beautiful Book-A must read!

    This book is one of the most beautiful stories that I have ever read. Through a series of events that take place basically in two days, Virginia Woolf shows us that the human condition is a complex, yet wonderful state. By illustrating not only what people do, but also illustrating the thoughts and intentions behind the actions, Woolf humanizes her characters in a profound way. While reading this book, I found myself feeling with the characters; laughing when they laughed, mourning when they mourned, a truly remarkable experience. I believe that anyone that reads this book will be able to commiserate with the people in it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2005

    Thought provoking but confusing

    i read this for ap english 3 class...it's a pretty good book with lots of symbols and thoughts on life in general, however this book is fairly confusing and involves a lot of thinking on the reader's part...i'm doing a research paper on this book right now and learnign more than i did from the book...i would recommend thsi book if you're into 'discovering' the meaning of life or something boring like that.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2004

    What?!?!

    I chose Virginia Woolf¿s To the Light House after seeing the movie ¿The Hours,¿ based on the life of Virginia Woolf. Woolf who is considered to be one of the first modern writers suffered from various psychological problems. Her mental illnesses is why I consider her to be of a different culture then myself. Throughout the novel To the Light House I believe Woolf used the characters to exemplify her own twisted feelings on the world. The protagonist per say in the story is Mrs. Ramsey who can be characterized as portraying the typical caring supporter and mother figure. However it unveiled in the story that Mr. Ramsey cannot function without the constant support and confidence that Mrs. Ramsey gives him. Another key point of Woolf¿s culture being exemplified through Mrs. Ramsey is the fact that Mrs. Ramsey will not tell her husband that she loves him. Studies have shown that Woolf indeed was a bi- sexual and had trouble with the male sex. Another main character Lily Briscoe, who is a worrying painter, also embodies Virginia Woolf¿s psychological problems. Briscoe continuously worries about her painting being good enough just as Woolf never felt that her writing were good enough. Mr. Ramsey and James both possess the same mental problems that Virginia Woolf went through. They along with Woolf consistently felt alone although people usually surrounded them. They tried to mask their feeling of insecurity but eventually they would burst, such as when James was at the dinner table and when Mr. Ramsey tells James that is inevitable they will not be able to go to the Lighthouse. As one of Virginia Woolf¿s establishing novels, To the Light House is written in as a stream of consciousness and contains many symbolisms. But it is clearly evident throughout the book that the author has very deep and serious psychological issues. Critical Analysis What did I think of the book? Well I can now see why Virginia Woolf committed suicide because if I had to read my books like that I would too. On a serious note I felt that the stream of consciousness was hard to follow at first. The Dinner party was the only truly clarifying moment in the entire book. The symbolisms that I came to find out later in the cliff notes were not evident in the text and without any prior knowledge of Virginia Woolf the book can turn into a mystery. I do not believe I would recommend this book to my worst enemy. I mean when i read for fun I want it to be fun!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Hatefully boring

    Maybe it was the style of her time but there was nothing in these characters that made it worth suffering through. These people needed a good zombie attack to liven things up.

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    confussing

    i read this book for my senior project and had to write a paper...it was the toughest paper i had to write so far...its so confussing!!!!...i dont recommand this book at all...

    1 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2000

    0 plot= bad story

    to the lighthouse was convoluted confusing and utterly pointless. there was no plot. None of the characters seemed real. And whats with all that Q-R stuff w/ Mr. Ramsay? If I hadn't had to read this for school I would never have wasted the money

    1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2009

    Extremely Confusing

    I have to read this book for a Literature assignment, and it is one of the most confusing books I've ever read. I can't get through it. Woolf's sentences are extremely long, some expanding (literally) a page or so. I do not recommend this book unless you want a challenge.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2004

    Beautiful

    This may be, in face, one of the best books I've ever read. Virginia Woolfs perfectly sculpted sentences and interesting characters make this book a must read for anyone. Makes you think about your life in a way no other book can.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2002

    Brilliant!

    What turns many away from this novel is the way Woolf uses space. The second part of the novel ('Time Passes') manages to compress the events of ten years into thirty pages while the entire first part ('The Window') is the longest section of the novel, at over 100 pages, and covers just ONE day, ending with the dinner party. To the people who hated it, I suggest they first read 'A Room of One's Own' to get a better idea of what Woolf aims to achieve in her art. Lily's experience mirrors Woolf's in a number of significant ways. It's pretty easy to 'dis' what you don't understand. But it may reflect your own understanding (or lack thereof) than the intrinsic qualities of the work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2000

    In The Eyes of The Beholder

    'To The Lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf is novel split into three sections. Each section is dedicated to a different time period in the lives of the Ramsay family as they vacation at their summer home in Scotland. The novel is simply a compilation of anecdotes narrating the interplay of the characters and the events in their lives from 1910 to 1920. <P> Woolf's style makes 'To The Lighthouse' a complex novel. It is an unfamiliar style and yet very familiar, for Woolf writes using stream of consciousness. Stream of consciousness means Woolf writes the thoughts of the characters exactly as they think them. What makes this style so difficult to read is mostly the lack of punctuation. Since humans do not consciously put punctuation into their thoughts as they would if they were writing, the thoughts of the Ramsay's and other characters tend to be in run-on sentences. There is very little dialog, for all of the conversations that occur are described in the thoughts of one of the characters involved in the conversation. Since each character has a unique point of view, this style emphasizes the fact that everything is in the eye of the beholder. Woolf's style makes 'To the Lighthouse' a slow, but intriguing, read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2000

    All men (and women) should read Virginia Woolf.

    Many men define Woolf by her searing critiques of the patriarchy & the power-monger male and subsequently shy away from her brilliant work. Don't. Even if you are a Richard Dalloway of sorts & a little implicit criticism sounds daunting in the evening reading hours. Woolf's stunning aesthetic and authorial gift is too great to just pass up. She is wonderfully ambiguous, smart, & perceptive. To the Lighthouse is not only a darned good three part novel, but also a telling relic of the birth of modernism & the post-war consciousness. Read it, especially if you are a mature & interested reader & person. This is, in my opinion, her best novel.

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