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Orlando: A Biography (1928)

by Virginia Woolf

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,353155660 (3.89)2 / 540
Orlando has always been an outsider . . . His longing for passion, adventure and fulfilment takes him out of his own time. Chasing a dream through the centuries, he bounds from Elizabethan England amd imperial Turkey to the modern world. Will he find happiness with the exotic Russian Princess Sasha? Or is the dashing explorer Shelmerdine the ideal man? And what form will Orlando take on the journey - a nobleman, traveller, writer? Man or . . . woman?… (more)
  1. 10
    Candide by Voltaire (FFortuna)
    FFortuna: They have the same kind of wide-eyed satirical quality.
  2. 00
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Anonymous user)
  3. 00
    The Art of Joy by Goliarda Sapienza (julienne_preacher)
  4. 00
    Orlando [1992 film] by Sally Potter (JuliaMaria)
Romans (32)
1920s (30)
Modernism (128)
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English (140)  Italian (2)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (2)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (154)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
Seductive, queer, puzzling, beautiful. ( )
  AlainaZ | Jun 5, 2022 |
This book had no plot - seriously. It could work as a character study of a gender non-conforming person. From the few analyses I've read that's why the work is deemed a classic today. But as a novel, I judged it poorly. For all the sophistication in Orlando's upbringing and thoughts, I couldn't find one thing to relate to. I just don't think this was for me ( )
  kahell | May 12, 2022 |
gentle wit and wide-ranging social satire, and I admired the bold, unapologetic engagement with the surreal.

https://donut-donut.dreamwidth.org/840738.html ( )
1 vote amydross | Mar 24, 2022 |
At the heart of this novel is a deadly serious question: What is life? This is explored in a tale that contrasts the stability of identity with the fluidity of gender and the relation of poetry with that which it tries to convey (that wild goose, that oak tree).
The plot extends 440 years to 1928, when the novel was written. The protagonist, Orlando, lives through this entire time, imperceptibly aging. At the end ("the present"), she is barely over thirty-six. Do I need to mark it as a spoiler alert before revealing that "she" began the novel as "he"? I doubt it.
Throughout, Orlando combines a love of nature and a love of literature. Woolf uses this, and the long time, to perform a parody of the course of English writing. She begins in the age of Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Ben Jonson; Orlando's own writing abounds in classic themes heroically treated. She entertains Dryden, goes to London to attend a salon frequented by Addison, Swift, and Pope, peers through the window at Boswell and Samuel Johnson.
Thus, it is no surprise that when the nineteenth-century dawns (if that is the correct verb given the change in the weather the narrator records), Orlando keenly feels the imperative expressed by Jane Austen in the opening of Pride and Prejudice. Nor, in the twentieth, that Woolf neatly skewers the recently published (and suppressed) Lady Chatterley's Lover as expressing the spirit of that age.
Arriving in the 1920s also means the age of psychoanalysis and a reconsideration of what was said above about the stability of identity. Orlando contains multitudes and has trouble achieving what an analyst would call an integrated personality. This allows Woolf to explore the effect of memory on our consciousness.
Does all of this sound too serious? Perhaps, for I guffawed repeatedly while enjoying this book. It is the best I've read in a long time. You may have a final question: Isn't it absurd to propose a protagonist who lives several lifetimes over many centuries? Apparently not, dear reader, if that protagonist has fallen prey to the power of literature. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jan 9, 2022 |
In this strange book, fantastically privileged protagonist Orlando sails through time periods and genders, starting out as a male during the Renaissance and ending up as a female during the early twentieth century. There are some witty remarks about the British literary canon (when was the last time you had a laugh at Alexander Pope's expense?), and sharp observations about gender roles, but overall, this book is an achievement to be admired rather than a work to be loved. ( )
  akblanchard | Jan 7, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
Next time anyone tries to tell you – as people often do – that Virginia Woolf was a cold fish, just direct them to her seductive writing about winter. It warms the heart.
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, Sam Jordison (Dec 5, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (148 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Woolf, Virginiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bowen, ElizabethAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, Sandra M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herlitschka, Herberth E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herlitschka, MarlysTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Higgins, ClareNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Livi, GraziaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyons, BrendaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nuie, CorneliusCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalero, AlessandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalero, GraziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simonsuuri, KirstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitworth, Michael H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterson, JeanetteIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To V. Sackville-West
First words
He - for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it - was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.
Quotations
Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another. (p. 11)
But worse is to come. For once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system it weakens it so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the inkpot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing. (p. 53)
Orlando had become a woman - there is no denying it. But in every other respect, Orlando remained precisely as he had been The change of sex, through it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity. (p. 97)
No passion is stronger in the breast of man than the desire to make others believe as he believes. (p. 105)
She was a man; she was a woman; she knew the secrets, shared the weaknesses of each. (p. 112)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Orlando has always been an outsider . . . His longing for passion, adventure and fulfilment takes him out of his own time. Chasing a dream through the centuries, he bounds from Elizabethan England amd imperial Turkey to the modern world. Will he find happiness with the exotic Russian Princess Sasha? Or is the dashing explorer Shelmerdine the ideal man? And what form will Orlando take on the journey - a nobleman, traveller, writer? Man or . . . woman?

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184272, 0140622810, 0141198524, 0143566458

Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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