Title: To the Lighthouse
Author: Virginia Woolf
Year I read it: 2012
One sentence summary: In this stream-of-consciousness, autobiographical novel, Woolf tells the story of the Ramsay family and their artist-friends and of their visits to the Isle of Skye between 1910 and 1920.
Interesting fact: Woolf felt haunted by memories of her parents until she started this novel and finished it very rapidly. She wrote this novel, in part, to understand her parents better; and afterwards never sensed the haunting again.
Three reasons to read it:
- If you are wary of Virginia Woolf, modernism, stream-of-conciousness, or all three (as I was), this is a rather good place to start. [I preferred it to Mrs. Dalloway - gasp!]
- Woolf's language is stunning! She's writing prose as poetry or poetry as prose or something really amazing with bits of philosophy & psychology thrown in. I enjoyed her language immensely!
- Interactions between the characters struck me as rather universal - wives and husband, children and fathers, the misunderstood and socially awkward nerd, the female artist being told her work in some way doesn't count. They're people I've seem to have met - or seem to have been.
One reason you maybe shouldn't:
- Woolf can be hard to grasp. There's so much in there - but it's fun trying!
To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others.
Never did anybody look so sad. Bitter and black, halfway down, in the darkness, in the shaft which ran from the sunlight to the depths, perhaps a tear formed; a tear fell; the waves swayed this way and that, received it, and were at rest. Never did anybody look so sad.
What is the meaning of life? That was all—a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.
It seemed to her such nonsense-inventing differences, when people, heaven knows, were different enough without that.