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The Waves (1931)

by Virginia Woolf

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4,646651,962 (4.11)245
One of Woolf's most experimental novels, The Waves presents six characters in monologue - from morning until night, from childhood into old age - against a background of the sea. The result is a glorious chorus of voices that exists not to remark on the passing of events but to celebrate the connection between its various individual parts.… (more)

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English (58)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
The book follows the lives of 6 friends from their childhood until old age. I wish I had the words to express how wonderful this book is. It does not care about the plot, and focuses solely on the interiority of the characters, their perception of reality, of themselves and of others. Virginia Wolf explores with extraordinary talent the question of what constitutes the self, the masks we assume when communicating to others, and what constitutes community. ( )
  Clarissa_ | May 11, 2021 |
I'd say that 80% of the reason I started a Virginia Woolf book club was so that I could re-read this one with a group of friends. Here Woolf follows a group of six friends from their early childhood through old age, but what we see are their thoughts, impressions, and inner workings, with just a hint of what is happening in their outside life. Much like Mrs. Dalloway, reading this again when you are in your mid-40s makes the book hit a lot differently than it did when I was in my early 20s. The chapter in their young adulthood where the characters react to their idolized school friend Percival's death is one of the most affecting and accurate descriptions of grieving that I've ever read, and it brought back my own first brush with death as a young adult (love you, Carlos) with an unexpected gut punch. Not Woolf's easiest read, but one of her most rewarding. Stick with it for the final chapter with Bernard which is one of the best things I've ever read.

[Also working on a The Waves is the Breakfast Club theory -- Rhoda is obviously Ally Sheedy and Jinny is definitely Molly Ringwald. Still need to flesh out the rest of this hypothesis....] ( )
  kristykay22 | Feb 16, 2021 |
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
"I know what loves are trembling into fire; how jealousy shoots its green flashes hither and thither; how intricately love crosses love; love makes knots; love brutally tears them apart. I have been knotted; I have been torn apart."

The trench of memories runs deep and dark. Whenever pulled down its depths, they engulf with resounding, blinding pressure vivid and vibrant. A hundred emotions hit all at once, successively, divisibly, conflictingly. Virginia Woolf's The Waves is not only a trench but the shoreline, the rocks, the ship where these memories caress, crash, and cradle. It isn't only about reminiscences. But also the intimate creation of memories in different dimensions of time and space. They overlap, split, dance.

In sometimes dreamlike, other times too tangible soliloquies of six friends, this extraordinary, profound novel transports to montages of lives interconnected; some of them graze each other for seconds, at times touch for years, others make irreversible dents. Their pivot is a voiceless seventh friend whose departure rippled throughout earthly time. Death, like love, is a cosmic event; mourning is sporadic but perpetual. And breathing doesn't come easy with reading Woolf's prose; it holds at the sight of beauty; it sighs at familiarity; it labours at the captured entirety and poetry of living ("I said life has been imperfect, an unfinished phrase.") What an intense, tearful 200 pages as it eventually leaves for the arms of the gloaming skies. And bodies consumed by its waters will be washed ashore, choking but alive. ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 24, 2021 |
At last, I have read a Woolf book which doesn't live up to the hype. The Waves is an interesting experiment, as most of her books are, but this one feels much clunkier than the others. That's perhaps by design; if, say, Dalloway is an opera, this is an oratorio, or perhaps just someone standing on stage reading a script with excessive use of recitativo.

Others have become rapt by the language. I was, comparatively, unmoved; it reminds me of the way mediocre poets... read... their... POETRY ... inpublic, as if every line and every word were too freighted with meaning to be passed over, until the poem's end, when the poet collapses under the weight of his own genius. I'm sure Woolf knew that, but wanted to give it a go anyway.

Despite these flaws, it's still Woolf, and she's still trying new things, and almost every other novelist is, at best, worse than her worst, and less interesting than her least interesting. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bell, VanessaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bosch, AndrésTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bosse-Sporleder, MariaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flint, KateEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, AngelicaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oliver, Maria AntòniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parsons, DeborahIntroduction and Notessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodrigues, LucíliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wajsbrot, CécileTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The sun had not yet risen.
The sun had not yet risen. The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky and the grey cloth became barred with thick strokes moving, one after another, beneath the surface, following each other, pursuing each other, perpetually.”
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There is nothing staid, nothing settled in this universe. All is rippling, all is dancing; all is quickness and triumph.
Percival has died (he died in Egypt; he died in Greece; all deaths are one death).
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One of Woolf's most experimental novels, The Waves presents six characters in monologue - from morning until night, from childhood into old age - against a background of the sea. The result is a glorious chorus of voices that exists not to remark on the passing of events but to celebrate the connection between its various individual parts.

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Book description
Desde 1931, año de su publicación, Las olas ha sido considerada una de las obras capitales del presente siglo, tanto por la original belleza de su prosa como por la perfección de su revolucionaria técnica, y, con el paso de los años, su influencia sobre la literatura contemporánea ha ido acrecentándose. La novela desarrolla, al compás del batir de las olas en la playa, seis monólogos interiores, a veces discrepantes y aislados, otras veces casi en coloquio concordante, en los que se formulan, desde su infancia hasta sus últimos años, seis vidas múltiples y dispares.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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