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To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse (1927)

by Virginia Woolf

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (145)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Good though uneven. I liked the first and second part much more than the third. Also, it was not very accessible. I feel stupid saying that, but I did not find it as impressive as Mrs. Dalloway. ( )
  Ginnywoolf | Mar 22, 2015 |
  JMlibrarian | Feb 27, 2015 |
This novel has quite simply surpassed just about everything I’ve ever read in terms of truly capturing human relationships. Mostly split between two periods, the novel firstly takes us through a pre-WWI snapshot of the Ramsay family and friends at their holiday home on the Isle of Skye, at a period when Mr. Ramsay’s light is shining brightly as a philosopher, and the eight children are still in the clutches of childhood. Whilst Mr. Ramsay dominates the household with his moods and vain emotional neediness, Mrs. Ramsay is the quiet strength that pulls the family together, relentlessly working to smooth out the creases of everyone's lives. She sees herself as unimportant compared to the significance of her husband and his work, yet as the book develops we see so clearly how she impacts the lives of the people in the house far beyond the human reach of Mr. Ramsay.

The third person narrative is split between the perspective of some of the family and house guests, and the plot of the book is essentially the observation of the human condition. Each of the viewpoints layer vivid observations of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay in particular, which combine superbly to depict how different people can have such disparate opinions of a person. For me this was one of two standout achievements of the novel - in most books the same side of a character are depicted through different narrators, but this novel so successfully depicted how beauty is so very much in the eye of the beholder.

The second way in which the book blew me away was through very thing I thought I’d abhor - Woolf’s stream of consciousness style. It took a while to get used to, but I found it resonated with me most unexpectedly, especially in the first part of the novel. I really connected with Mrs. Ramsay’s ‘internal chatter’ as a wife, mother and woman. I’m sure it’s not necessarily a good thing that many of Woolf’s autobiographical thoughts spoke to me, but I just “got" where she was coming from with many of these musings. For example, I too have looked at my young children absorbed in the happy straightforwardness of their childhood and wondered how ‘real’ life will turn out for them (yes, alas I am one of life’s worriers).

There is a short middle section to the book which I won’t comment on as it would spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, and then the third part of the book observes a snapshot of some of the group’s life on another day in the island some years later, post WWI. Again, this just brilliantly captures human nature, especially how a seemingly innocuous exchange with a child can stay with them for life, and how people often struggle to be the person they want to be. Perhaps, even more poignantly, how we often struggle to show people our truly good side even though it’s there deep within us, and how many of us need a certain person to make us truly shine. In this section of the book the children are now grown up, and Woolf applies her lightness of touch to demonstrate how life’s people and happenings shape our characters.

Although fairly short, this novel took me quite a while to read as I found I had to have near silence to absorb myself in it. Normally I quite happily read away whilst my husband has the TV blaring at full blast, but Woolf’s prose was so profoundly beautiful I needed to take in every word.

If any of us are afraid of Virginia Woolf, it’s perhaps because she captures life with an alarming honesty. An absolute definite 5 star read for me. ( )
5 vote AlisonY | Feb 22, 2015 |
I read this book less than two years ago, but I barely remember it- the sole scene I can pluck from my mind is of a character describing an impressionist style painting. I've looked at the books I read around when I read this one and every one has stuck with me to a greater degree than To The Lighthouse, even the books I didn't much care for are present more vividly than this one.

So for better or worse my assessment of this book is that it is almost completely forgettable. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Thuddingly slow, I really struggled to connect with this book. For all its reputation as a deep, thoughtful piece of writing, it seemed to me preoccupied with women and how they find husbands - or how sad it is when they don't. ( )
  alexrichman | Dec 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
How was it that, this time, everything in the book fell so completely into place? How could I have missed it - above all, the patterns, the artistry - the first time through? How could I have missed the resonance of Mr Ramsay's Tennyson quotation, coming as it does like a prophecy of the first world war? How could I not have grasped that the person painting and the one writing were in effect the same? ("Women can't write, women can't paint..." ) And the way time passes over everything like a cloud, and solid objects flicker and dissolve? And the way Lily's picture of Mrs Ramsay - incomplete, insufficient, doomed to be stuck in an attic - becomes, as she adds the one line that ties it all together at the end, the book we've just read?
"To the Lighthouse" has not the formal perfection, the cohesiveness, the intense vividness of characterization that belong to "Mrs. Dalloway." It has particles of failure in it. It is inferior to "Mrs. Dalloway" in the degree to which its aims are achieved; it is superior in the magnitude of the aims themselves. For in its portrayal of life that is less orderly, more complex and so much doomed to frustration, it strikes a more important note, and it gives us an interlude of vision that must stand at the head of all Virginia Woolf's work.

» Add other authors (359 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fiedeldij Dop, JoTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bertolucci, AttilioForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Briggs, JuliaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Celenza, GiuliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunmore, HelenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fastrová, JarmilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fischer, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoffman, AliceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holliday, TerenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaila, KaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munck, IngalisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Welty, EudoraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsay. "But you'll have to be up with the lark," she added.
She was thinking how all those paths and the lawn, tick and knotted with the lives they had lived there, were gone: were rubbed out; were past; were unreal, and now this was real
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156907399, Paperback)

“Radiant as [To the Lighthouse] is in its beauty, there could never be a mistake about it: here is a novel to the last degree severe and uncompromising. I think that beyond being about the very nature of reality, it is itself a vision of reality.”—Eudora Welty, from the Introduction


The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf constructs a remarkable, moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflict between men and women.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:02 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

At their holiday home in Cornwall, a distant lighthouse holds a haunting attraction for the members of an Edwardian family as disillusionment, turmoil, and a world on the brink of war plague the family's relationships.

» see all 23 descriptions

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Average: (3.88)
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1.5 11
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2.5 28
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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141183411, 0141194812, 0141198516

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175676, 190917548X

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