Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse (original 1927; edition 1989)

by Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,518161233 (3.88)574
Title:To the Lighthouse
Authors:Virginia Woolf
Other authors:Eudora Welty (Introduction)
Info:Harvest Books (1989), Edition: 1, Paperback, 209 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 574 mentions

English (152)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (160)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
Woolf can be a bit of a culture shock to the uninitiated. She was to me. In ‘To The Lighthouse’, she uses a stream-of-consciousness, floating, intimate third-person narration. It’s an attempt to represent the reality of how people think, and how our thoughts are interrupted and influenced by other thoughts or mundane distractions and develop a variously complex course. It’s staggeringly beautiful prose — she’s regarded as a giant of literature for a reason — but the effect of being carried along this stream of consciousness is to make all the characters seem quite bonkers.

The grumpy Mr Ramsey, an academic genius, spends all his time pacing the garden poking hedges while internally angsting about not being a ‘Z’. The rest of the time, he’s a pitiful attention-seeker. His grand wife is in awe of him, yet consumed by her own vanity (when she’s not staring at mundane things and thinking how they are like other things). Lily, a young family friend, takes ten years to decide where to paint a line on her canvas and so is doomed to a single life. Everybody else is equally nuts. For the first half of the book we float from the daydreams of one oddball to another while a book is read to a child, the father wanders about annoying people, people look out to sea, a girl loses a ring, then they all have dinner.

Reading Woolf is a particular experience. You have to go with the flow. Once you get used to it, it’s an immersive, dreamlike ride. Addictive. It’s one of those books you want to keep on your shelf because you *know* you will revisit it. Her skill is such that it ought to be compulsory reading for writers. I hope I’m able to somehow learn from it. To use Mr Ramsey’s alphabet metaphor of accomplishment, Woolf is probably an ‘X’ or ‘Y’.

There were times, however, when I wished the thought patterns, voice and vocabulary were more distinctive between the characters. The six year old boy’s thoughts were as eloquent and sophisticated as his parents. It also took me a while to realize it was Mrs Ramsey who had gone upstairs to check on the children after dinner, and not Lily.

The short chapters of the central second part of the book are so exquisite they read like a series of sublime poems.

The writing of Virginia Woolf is not to everyone’s taste, but everyone ought to have a taste of it, and give it time to develop on the palate.
  MatthewJamesHunt | Jun 20, 2015 |
I was fairly enraptured with the first part (The Window) - her prose detailing the myriad emotions of the household throughout the day is rather spellbinding. But the vast-jump-forward-in-time interlude and at long last the trip to the lighthouse, while full of insights, was devoid of the earlier magic.

"She heard him. He said the most melancholy things, but she noticed that directly he had said them he always seemed more cheerful than usual. All this phrase-making was a game, she thought, for if she had said half what he said, she would have blown her brains out by now." ( )
  dandelionroots | May 25, 2015 |
Quickly gave up on this novel. While I can appreciate why she is regarded as a great writer, I just could not get into the storyline or characters. No rating.
  john257hopper | May 22, 2015 |
Eis uma prosa brilhante que logo me fez perder a paciência, por causa do uso distorcido da gramática, da auto-consciência de permeio e da cleverness absorta. Nem cheguei a terminar a leitura - epítome da subjetividade na escrita, especialmente para os menos acostumados ao estilo fluxo da consciência. Uma verdadeira viagem ao ego, ao foco da consciência. Realmente não entendo porque Woolf seja considerada uma tão grande autora. Minha teoria é o fenômeno do "é ininteligível, deve prestar". Como (no cinema) David Lynch, como Fellini 8 1/2. Woolf, em O Farol, não faz muito sentido. Em Mrs Dalloway e Orlando, ela faz. Mas tampouco sou chegado a temas vazados na neurose humana, de que este livro principalmente se farta. Alguns dirão que sou um homem das cavernas com medo da complexidade. Não é verdade. Aprecio as complexidades. Aprecio-as duplamente quando equacionadas mais criativamente. ( )
  jgcorrea | Apr 24, 2015 |
My friend Alexis and I were exchanging opinions on Virginia Woolf, which reminded me to review this, one of my favorite books from our college syllabus. I recommend it over Mrs. Dalloway if you'd like a taste of Woolf. Alexis also recommends Orlando, which I haven't read.

Although both To the Lighthouse and Mrs. D. are written in the stream-of-consciousness style for which Woolf is famous, I connected with To the Lighthouse on a visceral level while Mrs. D's middle-aged inter-war ruminations on preparing for a dinner party left me cold.

On the Isle of Skye, a rift arises between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay over a disagreement about whether to visit the lighthouse. Ten years later, after the war has begun and ended, and Mrs. Ramsay has passed away, Prue has died in childbirth and James in the war, painter Lily accompanies Mr. Ramsay and the remaining family members to attempt the journey once more. The novel is concerned with thought, loss, and perception, especially perception of others. Read it to examine your own inner life, your perceptions of loss, and the vast intractable tundras that separate you from the secret inner lives of others. Read it to learn how to write, lyrically.

I've had to change my rating from four stars to five because I realized that some of its descriptions have never left me, and have appeared unbidden during an afternoon on the beach, or a rainy family reunion, so familiar now that I forgot that I co-opted my flitting emotions from this novel.

"but at the moment her eyes were so clear that they seemed to
go round the table unveiling each of these people, and their thoughts
and their feelings, without effort like a light stealing under water so
that its ripples and the reeds in it and the minnows balancing
themselves, and the sudden silent trout are all lit up hanging,
trembling. So she saw them; she heard them; but whatever they said had
also this quality, as if what they said was like the movement of a
trout when, at the same time, one can see the ripple and the gravel,
something to the right, something to the left; and the whole is held
together; for whereas in active life she would be netting and
separating one thing from another;" ( )
1 vote Sarah_Beaudette | Apr 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 152 (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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
"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
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 23 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.88)
0.5 15
1 71
1.5 11
2 136
2.5 27
3 364
3.5 87
4 621
4.5 109
5 707


5 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

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

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 97,851,217 books! | Top bar: Always visible