To the Lighthouse (1927)
Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (15)
Okay, I read a bunch of criticism to figure out why this book is on the list, never mind why it's so high on the list. As one would expect, the critics are awash in psychoblither. But there's one thing I didn't see, and it's the obvious one, Virginia Woolf was consumed by penis envy. What the hell else could the title of the freakin' book mean?
Let's parse the phrase:
A noxious blend of James Joyce, Sigmund Freud & feminism, it's all interior monologues & mini-epiphanies. No worthwhile human being could possibly live a productive life while having these banal, self-important soliloquies running through his head--we'd still be in caves.
See also:Virginia Woolf (2 books reviewed)
Library Journal: Top 150 of the Century
Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century
New York Public Library's Books of the Century
-WIKIPEDIA: Virginia Woolf
-ESSAY: The upside-down world of Lewis Carroll: The author was a man who spoke to the child in all of us. (Virginia Woolf, 9 December 1939, New Statesman)
-ESSAY: ON NOT KNOWING GREEK (Virginia Woolf, 1923)
-OBITUARY : Virginia Woolf Believed Dead: Novelist Is Thought to Have Been Drowned Friday--Had Been Ill (The New York Times, April 3, 1941)
-PODCAST: A Room of One's Own Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Virginia Woolf's highly influential essay about women and literature: "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." (In Our Time, 3/30/23, BBC)
-PODCAST: Mrs Dalloway: Andrea Pitzer and Matthew Hunte join host Catherine Nichols to discuss Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel (Lit Century)
-ESSAY: We Will Always Need Virginia Woolf: A Common Reader’s Defense: Emma Knight Contemplates the Legacy of a Literary Icon (Emma Knight, January 25, 2022, LitHub)
-ESSAY: Virginia Woolf’s Only Play: Based on Woolf’s own family, Freshwater was a tongue-in-cheek comedy full of inside jokes, written to entertain members of the Bloomsbury Group (Emily Zarevich March 23, 2023, JSTOR Daily)
-REVIEW: of To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf audiobook review (Fiona Sturges, The Guardian)
-REVIEW ESSAY: The Work of Living Goes On: Rereading Mrs Dalloway During an Endless Pandemic: Colin Dickey Finds Deeper Dystopian Meaning in Virginia Woolf’s Classic (Colin Dickey, December 6, 2021, Lit Hub)
-ESSAY: The Virginia Woolf of 'The Hours' Angers the Real One's Fans: At conferences, over dinner and through e-mail lists, many Woolf aficionados are fuming over the writer's portrayal as a pathetic, suicide-obsessed creature. (PATRICIA COHEN, 2/15/03, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of The Hours (Joseph Phelan and Colin Pearce, Claremont Institute)
Book-related and General Links:
-ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: "virginia woolf"
-ESSAY: The Movies and Reality by Virginia Woolf Anna Karenina and other literary excursions into the new medium of film. (1926, New Republic)
-EXCERPT: From Virginia Woolf's A Room Of One's Own (Thineownself)
-EXCERPT: from ''The Diary of Virginia Woolf,'' Vol. 5, by Virginia Woolf, edited by Anne Olivier Bell (NY Times Book Review)
-FEATURED AUTHOR: Virginia Woolf (NY Times Book Review)
-Virginia Woolf Web
-The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain
-The International Virginia Woolf Society
-Lotta's Virginia Woolf Page
-Women.com Brings You 100 Women of the Millennium: #36 Virginia Woolf
-Virginia Woolf on Women and Fiction (created by Joel Rich and Nancy Henderson)
-Mrs. Dalloway's London
-Virginia Woolf and To the Lighthouse
-To the Lighthouse Study Guide
-ONLINE STUDY GUIDE: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (SparkNote by Selena Ward)
-ONLINE STUDY GUIDE: A Room of One's Own (Matilda Santos, Spark Notes)
-STUDY GUIDE: Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929)(Professor Catherine Lavender, The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York)
-Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"
-CHAT: Virginia Woolf Lecture Hall (mobydicks)
-WEBRING: Virginia Woolf Webring
-LINKS: Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)(about.com)
-ESSAY: Virginia Woolf : The Quiet Revolutionary (Michael Cunningham, Salon)
-ESSAY: VIRGINIA WOOLF: "MIND" AND "MATTER" ON THE PLANE OF A LITERARY CONTROVERSY (Wyndham Lewis)
-ESSAY : World Wide Woolf (Brenda R. Silver, author of Virginia Woolf Icon)
-ESSAY An Introduction to A Room of One's Own : THE FATE OF WOMEN OF GENIUS (Mary Gordon, NY Times Book Review)
-ESSAY: Virginia Woolf, Her Inner Circle And Inner Self (HERBERT MITGANG, NY Times)
-ESSAY: HOW MRS. WOOLF FELT ABOUT MR. JOYCE (HERBERT MITGANG, NY Times)
-ESSAY: Way Behind Every Great Man . . . (Emily Eakin, NY Times Book Review)
-ESSAY: ENCOUNTERS; A Literary Critic and Truths About Incest (ERIKA DUNCAN, NY Times Book Review)
-ESSAY: The Stain on Vanessa Stephen's Dress: Virginia Woolf suffered not from the "patriarchy" but from everything she embraced in opposing it. (Elizabeth Powers, Commentary)
-ARCHIVES: "woolf" (NY Review of Books)
-REVIEW: of To the Lighthouse (Louis Kronenberger, NY Times)
-REVIEW : of Flush by Virginia Woolf : Tail of two cities : Virginia Woolf's story of a spaniel, set in London and Florence, is as much social comment as dog biography. In short, a veritable canine classic, says Justine Hankins (The Guardian)
-REVIEW: of THE WIDOW AND THE PARROT By Virginia Woolf. Illustrated by Julian Bell (Wendy Martin, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of LUGTON'S CURTAIN By Virginia Woolf. Illustrated by Julie Vivas (Wendy Lesser, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE ESSAYS OF VIRGINIA WOOLF: Volume I 1904-1912. Edited by Andrew McNeillie (John Gross, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of The Essays of Virginia Woolf Vol. II. 1912-1918 Edited by Andrew NcNeillie (NONA BALAKIAN, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE ESSAYS OF VIRGINIA WOOLF Volume Two: 1912-1918. Edited by Andrew McNeillie (Peter Ackroyd, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, Volume IV, 1931-1935. Edited by Anne Olivier Bell, assisted by Andrew McNeillie (Mary Cantwell, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF Volume Four. 1931-1935. Edited by Anne Olivier Bell. Assisted by Andrew McNeillie (Robert Kiely, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOLFE: Volume 5, 1936-1941. Edited by Anne Olivier Bell, assisted by Andrew McNeillie (ANATOLE BROYARD, NY times)
-REVIEW: of A PASSIONATE APPRENTICE The Early Journals, 1897-1909. By Virginia Woolf. Edited by Mitchell A. Leaska (Isabel Colegate, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Congenial Spirits The Selected Letters of Virginia Woolf Edited by Joanne Trautmann Banks (HERBERT MITGANG, NY times)
-REVIEW : of Lives: Virginia Woolf by Nigel Nicolson (Carol Peaker, National Post)
-REVIEW : of Lives: Virginia Woolf by Nigel Nicolson (EILEEN BATTERSBY, Irish Times)
-REVIEW: of VIRGINIA WOOLF By Hermione Lee (Daphne Merkin, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of VIRGINIA WOOLF By James King (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of VIRGINIA WOOLF : A Writer's Life. By Lyndall Gordon (Carolyn Heilbrun, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of VIRGINIA WOOLF. A Writer's Life. By Lyndall Gordon (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of A Very Close Conspiracy Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf By Jane Dunn (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of "Virginia Woolf" by Hermione Lee This absorbing biography tackles Woolf's dramatic life -- feminism, friendships, lovers, recurring bouts of madness -- and work. (Elizabeth Judd, Salon)
-REVIEW: of THE LETTERS OF VITA SACKVILLE-WEST TO VIRGINIA WOOLF Edited by Louise DeSalvo and Mitchell A. Leaska (Thomas Mallon, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of LETTERS OF LEONARD WOOLF Edited by Frederic Spotts (Leon Edel, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Letters of Leonard Woolf Edited by Frederic Spotts (Herbert Mitgang, NY times)
-REVIEW: of Great Books My Adventures With Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World. By David Denby (Joyce Carol Oates, NY times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE HOURS By Michael Cunningham (Michael Wood, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of BEYOND EGOTISM The Fiction of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence By Robert Kiely (Michael Rosenthal, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham Michael Cunningham's new novel, "The Hours," is neither an homage nor a sequel to "Mrs. Dalloway." It is, rather, an attempt at osmosis with the spirit of Virginia Woolf. (Georgia Jones-Davis, Salon)
-REVIEW : of Virginia Woolf: Penguin Lives Series By Nigel Nicolson Viking and The Measure of Life: Virginia Woolf's Last Years By Herbert Marder (James King, Globe and Mail)
This book is written by a woman and deals with what's going on in people's heads. Therefore it fits Orrin's lame prejudice/overgeneralization/oversimplification that women stand for "security," while men, who presumably never stop to think about things, are the free ones out running the world.
Moral: don't think, you'll grow breasts and a vadge.
- Aug-28-2006, 13:37
I hate it when stereotypes are reinforced and your review seems to reinforce a rather narrow minded stereotype of someone who doesn't like poetry and who isn't willing to be open-minded to a different way of writing. Though there were feminist issues, I don't see the penis envy. That seems to be a quick way to dismiss something that is not easy to review. Sigh.
I thought the book was truly ground breaking, written in a manner totally different than I have read anywhere else. History is never kind to originality especially by those who want things to remain the same. Yes, the book was very difficult to read. That doesn't mean it is not worth the reading.
I thought the book showed the ambiguities in the thoughts of the characters so well, I loved the way they often changed their opinions (and irritations) from page to page, exactly how real people often do.
I can't say that I fully understand it. This is definitely a keeper on my book shelf and one that I likely will continue to reread a page or two now and then, a tribute to something that is worth the time to read excerpts as well.
Hopefully, over time, I will gradually be able to have more of my questions answered, the sign of a great book when it poses questions not easy to answer.
You have missed out on an artistic experience. Very sad.
- Mar-28-2006, 09:42
"I will admit that the book was not one of my favorites"
UYou don't have to pretend here, you can just say it sucked.
- Apr-20-2005, 20:58
What I don't see is why some people feel so compelled to trash things they so obviously don't understand. "Okay, I read a bunch of criticism to figure out why this book is on the list, never mind why it's so high on the list." Did you ever try actually reading the book at all? Because frankly I don't see how you could possibly write what you did about it if you had.Perhapes I should rephrase that to if you understood any of what you read (assuming you did infact read the book and aren't just going off on something you know nothing about which I really wouldn't put past you after the ignorant comments you've already made)
"As one would expect, the critics are awash in psychoblither. But there's one thing I didn't see, and it's the obvious one, Virginia Woolf was consumed by penis envy. What the hell else could the title of the freakin' book mean?" Hmm let me see, what else could the title mean? Well if you read the book you might see that a very big part of the plotline was about going to a lighthouse, I wonder if maybe it had something to do with that?! You know not everything is about penis envy. I mean I recognize that some guys are so infatuated with their own genitalia that they can't see past penises, or that not everyone thinks as constantly about them as they do, but really! Use your head, not everything vaguely penis shaped is a metaphore for penises.
"I'm thinking you don't need a graduate degree to figure this one out." no you don't need a graduate degree for this one but maybe you do need to have a brain that functions at a level slightly higher than that of a middle school boy.
"A noxious blend of James Joyce, Sigmund Freud & feminism, it's all interior monologues & mini-epiphanies. No worthwhile human being could possibly live a productive life while having these banal, self-important soliloquies running through his head--we'd still be in caves." I'm sorry that you didn't feel that her portrayal of how the human thought process was accurate, but you might keep in mind that not everyone thinks the same way, and that just because you don't happen to think in that particular manner does not mean that others don't. I happen to think it a very accurate portrayal, as I happen to think in a manner very like that of the characters in her books, as do many of the people I know. No, not everyone thinks like that, I am aware of this, and I'm sorry that you lack the understanding needed to see this, but don't say that "No worthwhile human being could possibly live a productive life while having these banal, self-important soliloquies running through his head--we'd still be in caves." Because really you'd be surprised at the number of productive people out there that do in fact have those same self-important soliloquies running through their heads.
I will admit that the book was not one of my favorites, but it does have some very beautiful poetry in it and it has a very accurate portrayal of human relations, and human thought process. Just because you don't particularly enjoy something does not mean it has no value or that you should trash it the way you did. If you can't learn to like it at least learn to appreciate it for the value it holds to others.
- Apr-20-2005, 20:52
Try reading the book again, but slower this time. Instead of looking for clarity in plot and characterization, allow the language itself--the painterly images and the rhythmic prose--to take you in.
It's true: you have to surrender some of your expectations in order to enjoy "To the Lighthouse." You have to embrace such phenomena as multi-faceted, even contradictory characters. This may take some time, you may find it worth it in the end.
Mechanics aside, some of the language in "To the Lighthouse" is poetry of the highest quality. I quote:
"But what after all is one night? A short space, especially when the darkness dims so soon, and so soon a bird sings, a cock crows, or a faint green quickens, like a turning leaf, in the hollow of the wave. Night, however, succeeds to night. The Winter holds a pack of them in store and deals them equally, evenly, with indefatigable fingers. They lengthen; they darken. Some of them hold aloft clear planets, plates of brightness."
Subtle, liminal feelings are here exposed for a moment, given a clarity they resist with their very nature. Few writers can ask for more.
- Jan-16-2005, 23:36
OMG! ENLIGHTENMENT! your exquisite critique of this novel has provided me with invaluable insight into the depths of this novel. my extreme gratitude to you, sir!
- May-14-2003, 04:37
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