Synopses & Reviews
“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.
"[To the Lighthouse] is one of her most successful and accessible experiments in the stream-of-consciousness style. The three sections of the book take place between 1910 and 1920 and revolve around various members of the Ramsay family during visits to their summer residence on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. A central motif of the novel is the conflict between the feminine and masculine principles at work in the universe. With her emotional, poetical frame of mind, Mrs. Ramsay represents the female principle, while Mr. Ramsay, a self-centered philosopher, expresses the male principle in his rational point of view. Both are flawed by their limited perspectives. A painter and friend of the family, Lily Briscoe, is Woolf's vision of the androgynous artist who personifies the ideal blending of male and female qualities. Her successful completion of a painting that she has been working on since the beginning of the novel is symbolic of this unification." The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
"Virginia Woolf stands as the chief figure of modernism in England and must be included with Joyce and Proust in the realization of experiments that have completely broken with tradition." The New York Times Book Review
"One of few books which are filled with goodness and genuine love but also, in its feminine way, with irony, amorphous sadness, and doubt of life." The Reader's Catalog
About the Author
VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882-1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.