Reading Virginia Woolf is like stepping out onto a veranda, where the entire world unfurls before you in dazzling detail. Her unparalleled ability to paint a scene so exquisitely, and to inhabit her characters with such clarity and intensity, makes for an experience that is both awe-inspiring and deeply moving. To the Lighthouse, set in a weathered vacation home on the edge of a Scottish isle, depicts lives shaped by the temperament of the environment and the ancient myths of the sea. People's moods change at whim, perspective passes fluidly from body to body, and the grandeur of the landscape beckons the characters to embark on a journey that proves epic voyages don't always involve great distances. It doesn't get more beautiful than this. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
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
"There were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark."
To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of the Ramsay family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. There's the serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, their eight children, and assorted holiday guests. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf examines tensions and allegiances and shows the small joys and quiet tragedies of everyday life that seemingly could go on forever.
But as time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and together, the greatest of human challenges and its greatest triumph--the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, To the Lighthouse also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.
"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
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.