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The Voyage Out (Twentieth Century Classics) (original 1915; edition 1992)

by Virginia Woolf

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1,768233,980 (3.64)1 / 170
Member:lost.in.the.library
Title:The Voyage Out (Twentieth Century Classics)
Authors:Virginia Woolf
Info:Penguin Classics (1992), Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:fiction

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The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf (1915)

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Definitely a first novel but so completely Woolf. Her observations are exceptional. And there is a cameo appearance by the Dalloways! making the entire book worthwhile. ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Virginia Woolf completed Melymbrosia, her first novel in 1910, but she did not publish it until 1915 after two complete redraftings and retitling it as The Voyage Out. Louise DeSalvo, a Woolf scholar, spent seven years at the Berg Collection piecing together the early manuscripts until she established the text of Melymbrosia, and the New York Public Library published it in 1982 with a description of her methodology. That book, long out of print, was re-released by Cleis Press, with a new introduction by DeSalvo, in 2002.

The basic plot line and characters of the two versions are the same, but the writing in The Voyage Out is more highly refined and somewhat more oblique than in Melymbrosia. The protagonist of the story is Rachel Vinrace, a young woman in her early 20s, daughter of the owner of a fleet of ships that trades in South America. Her mother died in childbirth, and she was raised by her two maiden aunts in Richmond, outside of London. Like most privileged young women of the time, her education was spotty, but she is a talented pianist, who has not really been afforded the training to make her a serious one. She has embarked upon a South American voyage on one of her father's ships along with her maternal uncle and aunt, Ridley and Helen Ambrose. When the ship arrives at the Ambroses' destination, a villa in Santa Rosa, an European tourist spot, Helen convinces Rachel and her father that she should stay with them until her father completes his business further up the Amazon. In the village near where the villa is located is a tourist hotel. The interaction of the denizens of the hotel and the villa and the growing awareness by Rachel of the expectations of English society and her place within it define these rites-of- passage novels.

There is a ship of fools quality to the picture of this microcosm of privileged British society caught in a colonial getaway for a few weeks. Woolf chronicles the male privileging, the female frustration, the sexual hypocrisy and the basic uselessness of most of the members of this society. The two forays made by the adventurous ones in the troupe, up a mountain trail and down the river to a native village, are completely managed by local guides and laborers who are utterly ignored by those they lead. I was reminded of the river voyage into the interior described by Aphra Behn in Oronooko, and some critics have referenced Joseph Conrad.

In both versions, the writing is exquisite, but Melymbrosia is more savagely satiric, funnier, less inhibited in its depictions of characters and their thoughts, and generally more alive than The Voyage Out. It's certainly not necessary, and indeed somewhat repetitive, to read both versions -- either is revealing as a first novel by a great novelist. Personally, I preferred Melymbrosia. ( )
  janeajones | Mar 14, 2016 |
This is my first Virginia Woolf book and if I thought all the rest were like this I would not be reading any more of her works. However, this was her first and I am assured that she got better with time and practise so I will probably try again. I listened to this book read by Nadia May and I give May full marks for making the book as interesting as she could. From the internet I gleaned that Nadia May is a "nom de mike" for Wanda McCaddon who has narrated over 600 books. I'll be looking out for more books narrated by her.

Rachel Vinrace, her father and her aunt and uncle, Helen and Ridley Ambrose, take passage on one of her father's ships to South America. Rachel has lived a very sheltered life with some maiden aunts as her mother is dead and her father travels a great deal. Her aunt Helen proposes to introduce Rachel to modern life. Rachel's father leaves Rachel with her aunt and uncle on an unnamed island near South America where Helen and Ridley are staying in a villa owned by Helen's brother. Near the villa is a hotel where other British people are staying. The hotel is a little bit of British upper class life with proper English breakfasts, afternoon teas, English newspapers and a vicar. Rachel meets Terrance who is one of those Englishmen with no apparent job but an income and the two fall in love in a very short period of time. Other English people are also profiled but they are very one-dimensional. Apparently Woolf meant this book to satirise Edwardian life and the people do seem to be almost caricatures.

The ending was rather a shock. Just when I had gotten used to not much happening there was a sharp change and then the end. Not my cup of tea for the most part although Woolf does show a facility with the English language. ( )
  gypsysmom | Feb 21, 2016 |
I really didn't enjoy reading Virginia Woolf's debut novel, "The Voyage Out." I just found it incredibly boring... I could only read a few pages at a time before I fell asleep. I didn't connect with any of the characters- none felt particularly realistic nor interesting.

The book more or less follows the story of Rachel Vinrace, a young woman who has lived a sheltered life with her aunts. She gets out into the world and starts learning about herself and others. There are a ton of characters who are living in a hotel who populate much of the book.

The novel did help me appreciate Woolf's later more experimental novels a bit more-- if this is where she started, it's amazing where she ended up. Ultimately, Woolf is just not an author I really enjoy reading, despite feeling like I really should like her work. ( )
  amerynth | Feb 13, 2016 |
I love this book ( )
  libsea | Apr 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
So the story maunders on, and the fact that it is crowded with incident, most of it futile, and that the clever talk by every one continues in a confusing cataract in every chapter, does not save it from becoming extremely tedious.
added by Nickelini | editNew York Times (Jun 18, 1920)
 

» Add other authors (50 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Virginia Woolfprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gadda Conti, GiuseppeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Previtali, OrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm.
Quotations
In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty.
She looked forward to seeing them as civilised people generally look forward to the first sight of civilised people, as though they were of the nature of an approaching physical discomfort—a tight shoe or a draughty window.
"I have a weakness for people who can't begin."
Each of the ladies, being after the fashion of their sex, highly trained in promoting men's talk without listening to it, could think—about the education of children, about the use of fog sirens in an opera—without betraying herself.
[...], for if Rachel were ever to think, feel, laugh, or express herself, instead of dropping milk from a height as though to see what kind of drops it made, she might be interesting though never exactly pretty.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156028050, Paperback)

Woolf’s first novel is a haunting book, full of light and shadow. It takes Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose and their niece, Rachel, on a sea voyage from London to a resort on the South american coast. “It is a strange, tragic, inspired book whose scene is a South americanca not found on any map and reached by a boat which would not float on any sea, an americanca whose spiritual boundaries touch Xanadu and Atlantis” (E. M. Forster).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:14 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

We meet young free-spirited Rachel Vinrace aboard her father's ship, the Euphrosyne, departing London for South America. Surrounded by a clutch of genteel companions -- among them her aunt Helen, who judges Rachel to be "vacillating," "emotional," and "more than normally incompetent for her years" -- Rachel displays a startling maturity when she finds her engagement to the writer Terence Hewet listing toward disaster.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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