To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927)

From the 1956 Harcourt Brace & Co. edition:  To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf’s fifth novel, was originally published in 1927. Immediately acclaimed, it has remained one of her mostly highly regarded works of fictions.

Inspired by Woolf’s recollections of childhood summers spent on the Cornwall coast, To the Lighthouse depicts the fictional Ramsey family and their assorted house guests spending a vacation in the Hebrides, on the island of Skye.

The first part of the novel, “The Window,” finds six-year-old James Ramsey eagerly awaiting a promised trip to the nearby lighthouse, a promise not to be fulfilled until ten years later when, in the third section, “The Lighthouse,” James is nearing adulthood and many of the other characters have disappeared. 

 

Time Passes

Bridging these sections is “Time Passes,” with Woolf’s famous stream-of-consciousness technique at its most lyrical and powerful and where we find out what has happened to the missing members of the group. By the close of the novel, reconciliation with the ghosts of the past has been achieved.

This startling — and intentionally autobiographical — portrait of the complex inner workings of a family has been hailed as one of the great novels of this century. It led E.M. Forster to comment that Woolf had “pushed the light of English language a little further against the darkness.”

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To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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