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The Waves (Vintage classics) Paperback – 16 Jan 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (16 Jan 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099982307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099982302
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 1.5 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,038,958 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.


Product Description

Review

Full of sensuous touches...the sounds of her words can be velvet on the page (Maggie Gee Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

'Virginia Woolf wanted to write about the vast unknown uncertain continent that is the world and us in it' Jeanette Winterson, from her introduction to The Waves --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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'I see a ring,' said Bernard, hanging above me. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Aug 2000
Format: Paperback
In my view this is Woolf's best book. It is less of a novel as one usually expects - more a 300-page poem in prose form. The key to reading the book is to simply let the words flow over you - don't try to decipher the literal meaning of every sentence, just enjoy the sensations that their shape and texture give you. Ostensibly about the lives of five friends from birth to death, the book can actually be interpreted as an attempt by Woolf to delve deep into various facets of her own psyche, and a sharp reader will doubtless notice many of their own deepest psychological experiences in there.
A word of warning - don't try it if you've never read Woolf before. This is Woolf at her most abstract and esoteric. Try Mrs. Dalloway or Orlando first to get used to her style, then perhaps To The Lighthouse, before you try this. But for those who read the book with the right approach, the rewards are enormous, and indeed potentially life-changing.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 May 1999
Format: Paperback
This novel must invent its own narrative form to speak, and does; Woolf perfects her own poetics through the voices of six characters as we follow them from infancy to death, all in the course of a day. But the novel is not merely a formal or stylistic exercise in describing the world: it is one of the twentieth century's most moving accounts of the mostly unspoken, largely unspeakable shock at there being a world at all.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Dr. D. Tracy on 2 Aug 2004
Format: Paperback
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?
She was an author I had put off reading for some time now, for reasons I'm not sure I fully understand, but having finally got around to reading her once, I'm looking forward to a second chance.
For the first time in a long time, I have found myself shocked by a book. By the style as well as the substance. I remember an old friend describing the first time he heard 'Sunshine of your love' by Cream in the sixties and how he thought 'I didn't know you could do that, make that sound with a guitar'. Reading this book shocked me out of the complacency of what a novel could be or achieve.
In a stream of consciousness narrative, echoing the tide's waxing and waning over a single day, the novel follows the life of six friends from childhood to old age. It's a novel of feeling and sound, emotive more than cognitive. Poignant, halcyonic, melancholic - like it's author. A wonderful poetic gift that needs to be felt. A book to return to again and again.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas VINE VOICE on 6 Nov 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the first virginia woolf book that I have had the fortune to read, and I must comment that I was blown away by it's fantastically original style. It reads to me as a beautiful at times haunting long poem, that never ceases to enage the reader. The story is based around 7 individuals and documents their lives from children to adults. The book can be a little confusing at times due to the nature of it's content, but the sheer beauty of the words carries it through it's weaker moments. So lovely I might even read it again.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By I. M. Knight on 20 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
Possibly one of the best books I've ever read. This is writing at its most skilled, incorporating excellent ideas about life, death and being. I found that rather than reading the book and deliberating over every word, I let the book read me. This is a very enlightening read, when read like this. Unusually, I also found this an easier read than `To the Lighthouse'.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marco Colombo on 30 April 2009
Format: Paperback
The Waves follows the lives of six friends from childhood to adulthood. There is no dialogue, but we follow the innermost thought of each of the characters. This provides a unique experience, different from that of any other books I've read: it can be (barely) summed up as a collection of intertwined monologues. As such, it's somewhat closer to a theatre play than a novel. I suggest it to read it out loud: only then, Woolf's delicate and precise choice of words (and sounds) can be fully appreciated.

As any other novel by Virginia Woolf, this book can be daunting, and the lack of explicit dialogue can make it fell more so. However, it's an enriching emotional experience.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jitkat on 15 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback
The Waves is a stream of consciousness describing thoughts of a group of schoolmates throughout their lives. The molonologues start as they go to school together and alternate from one friend to another. There's also a non-talking character who is very important to the others but we never know what he's thinking.

The prologues at the beginning of each chapter mark the different stages in the freinds' live: from sunraise to sunset. The waves motive represents the different thoughts and feelings that go up and down and the live experiences that are also up and down the shore, just like the waves.

The book is generally very difficult to read: follow Woolf's thoughts was sometimes impossible for me. But don't give up, after a lot of emotional talking, there always is a factual information which aligns the plot. Her language is fabulous, although the meaning at times obscure.
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By Robert Pask on 3 Oct 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was tricky to read, but definitely worth finishing. It is written in a stream of consciousness style which can be disconcerting. However, it is worth persevering with as there are a number of interesting comments on life within. Although it is certainly not easy to read, it is one that you will be pleased you have completed.
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