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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 (187)  Dutch (3)  Catalan (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (199)
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
The language is so beautifully evocative. The careful echoing of the longer first section, which allows the reader to meet and understand the Ramseys and Lily Briscoe in particular, with the concluding section where Lily (the artist) is forced to come to terms with what it all means is balanced by the much briefer middle part. That section is where we learn of the events of the painful period of Mrs. Ramsey's death, World War II and the passage of time. It functions as a sort of intercession for both the reader and Lily, allowing us to gain perspective (almost without realizing it) on how "we perish, each alone." Such a very powerful book. ( )
1 vote PatsyMurray | Aug 5, 2018 |
One of the great books. ( )
  MikeMonje | Jul 29, 2018 |
2-stars for enjoyment, 4-stars for significance. I compromised at 3-stars.

While I can fully appreciate the depth and importance of the themes Woolf deals with in this novella, it is her style and approach that make it so hard for me to praise it. It is a scant 159 pages and yet I have read books of 1000 pages with less drag and suffering (my suffering not the characters). I must say, for me, it was like reading one very, very long run-on sentence without being given even the respite of a comma to allow me to take my breath. I think Virginia Woolf would be happy to know I felt that. I believe it was her intent.

Woolf packs a wallop into such a short work. One gets a true sense of the almost insurmountable differences between the sexes and, for that matter, the isolation of the individual from the society in which they figure. The lighthouse looms as the unattainable goal at the beginning of the novel and the ultimate disappointment at its end. The mid-section is a jarring departure from the already loosely constructed story, and again that is Woolf’s full intent. It is almost in passing that we learn that Mrs. Ramsey has died suddenly, and the impact of how we are told is a reflection of the way in which people pass from life to death in reality. In fact, the lack of meaning in life itself seems to be another of Woolf’s themes. We see in both Mr. Ramsey and Lily a search for meaning in their work, something of permanence that will outlive them and we know that there is little chance that either of them will be remembered in any significant way when they have gone.

I believe this work has significance and fully understand why Woolf receives high regard and accolades, so it will seem a bit confusing when I say that this will no doubt be the last Woolf I will tackle. It is my third try, and I am either too shallow or she is too complicated, but I am far too old to devote time to reading that feels more like torture than satisfaction. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Well, Mr. Albee, I can now answer that question. I am. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
a family goes to the same vacation house through the years ( )
  margaretfield | May 30, 2018 |
There are moments of great crystalline beauty here, seamless amalgam of little sharp perceptions and language their vehicle, and I won't forget this family, in particular the two parents, in whom I see so much of archetype, of my parents and my friends' parents transfigured and ennobled by, well, class, I suppose. Mrs Ramsey regal and anxious, Mr Ramsey needy and forbidding, which is almost another (male) way of saying the same thing. But a sprawling family deserved a sprawling novel that would let the modernist psychological superstructure unfold at a less compressed pace. I feel like that pressure relief would have led to fewer "But what is it all? And what does it all mean? And what are ... WE???"-type eruptions. Sure am glad James made it to the Lighthouse and had a moment with his dad though.

(On class: the last gasps of compulsive Victorian world-building as well as Victorian formality are on display here, and it's affecting to watch that world list and capsize and the hard-won homeliness of it convert into something more twentieth-century and atomized. But I guess that made the proscribed lighthouse trip possible?) ( )
  MeditationesMartini | May 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 187 (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 (170 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, VirginiaAuthorprimary 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
Foa, MaryclareIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoare, D.M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoffman, AliceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holliday, TerenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaila, KaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, HermioneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNichol, StellaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munck, IngalisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Phelps, GilbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richards, CeriCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:28 -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 32 descriptions

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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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