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To the Lighthouse (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Feb 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 Feb 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853260916
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853260919
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favourite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid.

With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938).

Her major novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). All these are published by Penguin, as are her Diaries, Volumes I-V, and selections from her essays and short stories.


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Review

"To The Lighthouse is one of the greatest elegies in the English language, a book which transcends time" (Margaret Drabble)

"It is an elegy for lost times and family life" (The Week)

"Thrillingly introspective" (The Independent) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Rediscover Virginia Woolf - the definitive edition of her moving exploration of time, family and human experience --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Feb 2002
Format: Paperback
To the Lighthouse is Virginia Woolf's fifth novel and one of her most widely read. In three parts, it tells the story of the Ramsay family before and after the First World War: The first one describes a September day spent by the family and some of their friends on the Isle of Skye. The second part deals with the change in the holiday residence and the gradual decline of the house in the following ten years as well as with the life and the fate of the family members. In the last part, Woolf tells us how Mr. Ramsay and two of his children come back after the long absence and how the journey to the lighthouse promised ten years ago finally takes place.
With her usual gift of understanding and reflecting people's thoughts and feelings, fears and longings, griefs and joys, Virginia Woolf steps into the background and leaves it to the characters' reflections to tell the story of their life in an astonishing and beautifully lyrical way.
We read about childhood, marriage, loss and death, grief and love, but also about British society and patriarchal family values during the transition from Victorianism to the Modern times.
I really enjoyed reading To the Lighthouse, because Virginia Woolf's knows, like nobody else, how to combine the thematic challenges she sets herself with a beautiful fluent and lyrical style. What is striking is the identification of the author with the inner state of her characters. You just can't stop reading and deeply regret having reached the final page of the novel.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Archie on 21 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an incredible book and one which, along with Joyce and T.S. Eliot, was instrumental in the shaping of the modernist movement. the book is split into three sections, 'The Window', 'Time Passes' and 'The Lighthouse' and within these, Woolf develops the characters, the Ramsays and their guests with a brilliant stream-of-conscience technique in the former and latter sections. This gives a huge insight into the thoughts of both young and old and a highly perceptive take on the relationships between family and friends. This novel style of writing, 'mining behind the characters' as Woolf calls it, is given even greater drama through its contrast with the middle section, 'Time passes' which uses the standard Victorian objective narrator - though even this is modified and developed into an unusual 'voice'. This book is partially autobiographical, with the location and Mr Ramsay in particular, strongly mirroring aspects of Woolf's own life. There is minor feminist note running throughout, though this is largely hidden unless specifically looked for. this is a great book and worth reading. the style is unusual - some sentences are over a page long, nevertheless this shouldn't deter people from a book which seamlessly and beautifully mingles the thoughts of a whole host of characters who are perfectly captured as humans. The book shows how short our lives are, how brief the moment, and it is this, the ephemeral moment, which is so brilliantly shown.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By R.J.W89 on 8 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
Is it a cliche to argue that books can alter your life? I firmly believe that 'To The Lighthouse'(TTL) does. I first read this when I was 14 and rather uneducated Literature wise, but I believe this book is what sparked off my interest in Literature, and I've gone back to read TTL repeatedly and I am yet to be bored by it.

The plot is basic. It centers around the lives of a family who holiday up in Skye one long summer. The book is split up into 3 sections. There is relatively little action in the whole of the novel. In fact, I'd say about 50% of the novel is in 1 day or afternoon, and about 10% of the novel skips time about 10 years.

To really get to grips with TTL it is essential you come to the novel with an open mind. Really appreciate the focalisation on individuals. Woolf is famous for her place in the stream of conciousness movement which included Joyce etc. The beauty of this novel comes from the interactions between different characters. She can focus on the thoughts of the young son in the family, then she can zoom out and focus on the reactionary thoughts of the mother who is engaged in conversation with her son.

Moments like these are what makes TTL a masterpiece. If you haven't read any Woolf then I would recommend TTL as a good initiation. You could read 'Mrs Dalloway' which receives more publicity, but frankly I find it slightly dull.

TTL, however, is far from it and I firmly believe that this will be a book that comes back to haunt you long after you close it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Douglas P. Murphy on 9 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
The plot of this book on the surface does not seem necessarily like it would engender a classic: a family with a caustic father, a loving mother and a youngest son who despises his father and in this particular instance wants to visit a lighthouse out in the ocean, a desire his father opposes. However, Woolf infuses this story with her fabulous (I think) writing style and a breadth of insights and observations that leave one fascinated and thinking throughout. Her writing style includes long sentences and a flow consciousness that some might find too burdensome. Somehow her writing reminds me of Sylvia Plath, with that same brilliance of wordplay. Quite simply it is a great book.
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