Orlando: A Biography

Front Cover
Wordsworth Editions, 1995 - Fiction - 162 pages
56 Reviews

With an Introduction and Notes by Merry M. Pawlowski, Professor and Chair, Department of English, California State University, Bakersfield.

Virginia Woolf's Orlando 'The longest and most charming love letter in literature', playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost.

At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Costantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries.

As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Michael.Xolotl - LibraryThing

The writing is beautiful. Woolf tosses off historical generalizations and profound insights about life as effortlessly as I just took a swig of coffee. I usually hate attempts at profundity, although ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gbill - LibraryThing

It’s a mistake to reduce this book, as Vita Sackville-West’s son did, to ‘the longest and most charming love letter in literature’. I hate that characterization. While clearly inspired (and dedicated ... Read full review

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Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
3
Section 3
31
Section 4
58
Section 5
75
Section 6
112
Section 7
130
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About the author (1995)

Virginia Woolf was born in London, England on January 25, 1882. She was the daughter of the prominent literary critic Leslie Stephen. Her early education was obtained at home through her parents and governesses. After death of her father in 1904, her family moved to Bloomsbury, where they formed the nucleus of the Bloomsbury Group, a circle of philosophers, writers, and artists. During her lifetime, she wrote both fiction and non-fiction works. Her novels included Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and Between the Acts. Her non-fiction books included The Common Reader, A Room of One's Own, Three Guineas, The Captain's Death Bed and Other Essays, and The Death of the Moth and Other Essays. Having had periods of depression throughout her life and fearing a final mental breakdown from which she might not recover, Woolf drowned herself on March 28, 1941 at the age of 59. Her husband published part of her farewell letter to deny that she had taken her life because she could not face the terrible times of war.

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