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The Voyage Out (1915)

by Virginia Woolf

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,682415,331 (3.69)2 / 198
In The Voyage Out, one of Woolf's wittiest, socially satirical novels, Rachel Vinrace embarks for South America on her father's ship, and is launched on a course of self-discovery in a modern version of the mythic voyage. Lorna Sage's Introduction and Explanatory Notes offer guidance to thereader new to Woolf, and illuminate Woolf's presence, not identifiable in the heroine, but in the social satire, lyricism and patterning of consciousness in one woman's rite of passage.… (more)

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» See also 198 mentions

English (37)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Exquisitely beautiful, heartbreaking, and wry. ( )
  RatGrrrl | Dec 20, 2023 |
A truly beautiful novel. Virginia Woolf's first, this clearly shows her influences in a range of ways, and perhaps it meanders a little too much between Helen and Rachel, and its climax feels like an idea of how a novel should end rather than a thematic conclusion. Yet these are minor quibbles. The dialogue, the themes, the range of intimate moments... this is the formation of genius. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 24, 2023 |
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever

The Voyage Out or living beyond things

Describing things or just looking at things…

… thus when you describe things they change

… things are immortal but you can change them

… and things are changing you.

Earth, Sky, Mortals, Divine (Heidegger):
things belong to the earth, to the sky…
things are mortals and divine.

All lovely tales that we have heard or read

that we are not really at home in our interpreted world

daß wir nicht sehr verläßlich zu Haus sind
in der gedeuteten Welt.

quanto poco sa per noi di focolare
il mondo interpretato

That we are not really at hearth in our interpreted world

daß wir nicht sehr verläßlich zu Heim sind
in der gedeuteten Welt

“Jane Austen? I don’t like Jane Austen,” said Rachel.
“You monster!” Clarissa exclaimed. “I can only just forgive you. Tell me why?”
“She’s so-so-well, so like a tight plait,” Rachel floudered.


D’you know, Miss Vinrace, you’ve made me think? How little, after all, one can tell anybody about one’s life! Here I sit; there you sit; both, I doubt not, chock-full of the most interesting experiences, ideas, emotions; yet how communicate? I’ve told you what every second person you meet might tell you.”
“I don’t think so,“ she said. “It’s the way of saying things, isn’t it, not the things?”


She was next overcome by the unspeakable queerness of the fact that she should be sitting in an arm-chair, in the morning, in the middle of the world. Who were the people moving in the house-moving things from one place to another? And life, what was that? It was only a light passing over the surface and vanishing, as in time she would vanish, though the furniture in the room would remain.

She was overcome with awe that things should exist at all…


Flowers and even pebbles in the earth had their own life and disposition, and brought back the feelings of a child to whom they were companions. Looking up, her eye was caught by the line of the mountains flying out energetically across the sky like the lash of a curling whip. She looked at the pale distant sky, and the high bare places on the mountain-tops lying exposed to the sun. When she sat down she had dropped her books on to the earth ate her feet, and now she looked down on them lying there, so square in the grass, a tall stem bending over and tickling the smooth brown cover of Gibbon, while the mottled blue Balzac lay naked in the sun. With a feeling that to open and read would certainly be a surprising experience, she turned the historian’s page and read that - ...

“Novels,” she repeated. “Why do you write novels? You ought to write music. Music, you see” - she shifted her eyes, and became less desirable as her brain began to work, inflicting a certain change upon her face-”music goes straight for things. It says all there is to say at once.

“What I want to do in writing novels is very much what you want to do when you play the piano, I expect,” he began, turning and speaking over his shoulder. “We want to find out what’s behind things, don’t we?...

For some time Rachel made no reply; but every sentence Helen spoke increased her bitterness. At last she broke out-
“Thank God, Helen, I’m not like you! I sometimes think you don’t think or feel or care to do anything but exist! You’re like Mr Hirst. You see that things are bad, and you pride yourself on saying so. It’s what you call being honest; as a matter of fact it’s being lazy, being dull, being nothing. You don’t help; you put an end to things.”


After a silence she asked, looking up into the sky, “Are we on the deck of a steamer on a river in South America? Am I Rachel, are you Terence?”
The great black world lay around them.


They stood together in front of the looking-glass, and with a brush tried to make themselves look as if they had been feeling nothing all the morning, neither pain nor happiness. But it chilled them to see themselves in the glass, for instead of being vast and indivisible they were really very small and separate, the size of the glass leaving a large space for the reflection of other things.

( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
The story follows Rachel Vinrace, a young woman who has led a very sheltered life. With her father, aunt and uncle and a scholar they journey out to South America. The novel is clearly a satirical study of well to do Edwardian life. Helen (aunt) sees Rachel knows little of life or of men and takes her under her wing, especially after Rachel's unfortunate encounter with Mr Dalloway. The plot is gentle and winding much life the other novel I've read, it feels more like you are looking over the shoulder of the characters, you observe as life happens. It's a pleasant story but not one I found particularly engaging. ( )
  Cotswoldreader | Jun 5, 2023 |
This is Woolf's first novel, before she exploded into one of the most famous and best of all English writers. Still, it is a good, maybe great, coming of age story. Even Mrs. Dalloway is in it. ( )
  mykl-s | Jun 4, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
"The Voyage Out" is Virginia Woolf's first novel, published in 1915, and offers an insightful exploration into the themes of youth, love, and the journey towards self-awareness. The story follows Rachel Vinrace, a young woman who embarks on a sea voyage to South America aboard her father's ship, the Euphrosyne. Throughout the journey and her stay in a fictional South American country, Rachel is introduced to a variety of English expatriates and travelers, each contributing to her understanding of the world and herself.

As Rachel navigates through the complexities of adult society, relationships, and her emerging desire for independence and identity, Woolf delves deep into the inner workings of her characters' minds, employing a psychological narrative style that would come to define her later works. The novel addresses themes such as the stifling nature of Edwardian society, the quest for personal freedom, and the complexities of love and marriage, all while showcasing Woolf's burgeoning talent for stream-of-consciousness storytelling. "The Voyage Out" is not just a tale of physical journey but also a profound exploration of the transition from adolescence into adulthood, marking the emergence of Woolf's voice as a significant literary figure in modernist literature.
The voyage out is een roman als een schip, traag en majestueus golft ze van de bladzijden. Virginia Woolfs eerste is een weldaad. Nu die roman uit 1915 eindelijk als De uitreis in vertaling is verschenen, kunnen we kort zijn over de reden waarom het zo lang duurde: stekeblinde beroepslezers ter plaatse. The New York Times kon het ook niet bekoren. In 1920 poogt de krant de vuistdikke roman samen te vatten in vier zinnen en begint daartoe als volgt: ‘Ridley Ambrose, a professor, and his wife, Helen, a woman of the smart London world, are going to the antipodes on a vessel owned by Helen’s brother-in-law, Willoughby Vinrace.’ Een zin die je een beetje doet grinniken als je het boek net hebt uitgelezen.
added by Jozefus | editNRC Handelsblad, Hannah van Wieringen (pay site) (Jun 22, 2018)
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 (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, VanessaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bianciardi, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cunningham, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Zordo, OrnellaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Forrester, Vivianesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gadda Conti, GiuseppeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, AngelicaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harleman, PaganIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heine, Elizabethsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kersten, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Previtali, OrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reichert, KlausEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sage, LornaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheare, JaneEditorsecondary 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.
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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In The Voyage Out, one of Woolf's wittiest, socially satirical novels, Rachel Vinrace embarks for South America on her father's ship, and is launched on a course of self-discovery in a modern version of the mythic voyage. Lorna Sage's Introduction and Explanatory Notes offer guidance to thereader new to Woolf, and illuminate Woolf's presence, not identifiable in the heroine, but in the social satire, lyricism and patterning of consciousness in one woman's rite of passage.

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