Thursday, July 3, 2014

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

The Arcs of a Lifetime

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE was my first Virginia Woolf novel. Her language takes a lot of getting used to, I didn't enjoy it at the beginning, but it grew on me, the words flew beautifully, eventually. It was also difficult to keep on track, since it’s written in this stream-of-consciousness style. Nonetheless, it was the profoundness and richness of the characters, and symbolisms that brought the whole picture together. I've read somewhere that a Woolf reader needs to savor the language, that’s why I had Juliet Stevenson and her narration accompany me every now and then (Thanks, Angus!).

In lyrical prose, Woolf managed an evocative voice with vividness and intelligence that echoes human fallibility and understanding. There’s no elaborate way to explain it, except that there were sudden moments wherein I have to stop and look beyond to think, that is true. That’s exactly how it felt. To the Lighthouse reflects back to us the way we experience consciousness in the repetition of leaps and turns. Although the heavy themes require the reader's full engagement, its meaning is applicable and accessible to any generation.

“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”

The second part, Time Passes, was straightforward and brisk; three characters were severed in a matter of few pages. It somehow implies that time waits for no one -that if one doesn't pay attention to every single moment, life will pass unexpectedly.

“She had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!” 

Even though I read this because it was chosen as TFG’s book for May, I have to say that I really liked it. Well, To the Lighthouse is neither something I'd be very eager to go back to, time and again, nor my cup of tea, but I believe I know exemplary craft when I see one.

Book details:
Title: To the Lighthouse
Published: 1927
Publisher:  Project Gutenberg
Genre:  Modernist
Rating: ★★★★


A very meaningful F2F discussion
headed by our beloved Angus,
at Borough, The Podium, last May 2014.

Photo courtesy of Monique.


  1. Ack! I don't know if my comment went through. It disappeared. Anyhu, will comment ulit. :)

    I have had some of those: "this is TRUE" moments too, as I was reading this book. I think mostly about some of the characters' musings about domestic life and relationships. And I agree, beeyootiful prose! :)

    1. Like what I've metioned to Angus before, steam of conciousness have the tendencies to send readers adrift maybe because it's giving us time to reflect more. It did took me a while to finish this, but I believe it's well worth it. :)

  2. Oh you guys! This is why I love moderating "challenging" books. And I'm super happy that most of us appreciated the novel. I don't remember anyone giving it anything less than 3-stars.

    1. Yes. And I've read some notable reviews from various group members too. ♥

  3. Loved TtL :) very moving, especially for a mom like me. <3

    1. Hi, Maria! That reminds me of Ranee's review.
      I think every mother have at least one of Mrs. Ramsay's compulsion. I know I do. And it's the love for our kids that drives us that way. :)