You have never read a book like this. But don't let that intimidate. This is her most experimental work, but it is still much more accesible than many other modernists. Her sentences and paragraphs are intelligible; it's more the accumulation of pages that might begin to baffle some readers. Woolf obviously requires a good deal of concentration, but her best works are rewarding in a way that many difficult writers are not. (You won't need a professor nearby or a mess of annotations to guide you through dense thickets of allusion-filled, abstract prose.) I consider this to be Woolf's greatest work. Mrs. Dalloway may be a more pleasurable read and more consistently a "masterpiece", but the Waves is often so intense and beautiful that it's devastating. In fact, there are times that one is a bit overwhelmed by the surfeit of emotion, poetic words, unremitting interiority. My Woolf pix in order: 1. Waves 2. Dalloway 3. Jacob's Room 4. A Room of One's Own 5. Orlando I personally feel that To the Lighthouse is more of a work to be appreciated than liked--it's simply too refined. And I couldn't make it through Between the Acts--too many upper class English people sitting around a table in the country sipping tea and performing their subtle, boring manners. Wait, I can't end on a sour note: Woolf is a bloody delight!
I was introduced to Virginia Woolf in college when I took an entire class devoted to her work. Although I had never read any of her work before, I quickly became a fan. My professor saved the best for last - The Waves. This book is the most poetic, most profound, most intimate book I have ever read. No one speaks in this book. You follow the characters' lives from childhood to adulthood by entering their minds and listening to their thoughts. At first it is difficult to figure out what is going on. There is no narration except short poetic passages about the sea and the sun's placement over it preceding each section of the book (and each period of the characters' lives). By the middle of the book, you know who is speaking without reading the name of the character. You know how they think. I strongly encourage anyone who is even slightly curious to buy this book. This small investment can change how you view the world. The Waves takes much longer to get through than some whodunit, but that's the beauty of it. My husband and I read a passage at night before going to bed. It's best when read slowly, with time to reflect after a small amount of pages. You'll be highlighting sentences that make great quotes as you go. What a glorious book!
Even if you've read other Virigina Woolf, you haven't come close to the experience of The Waves. Did you have to read To the Lighthouse for some class back in college? The Waves seems like a totally different author. Perhaps Jacob's Room comes closer, but still The Wave is unique: The whole text is entirely soliloquys in the first person. No 3rd person description, no omniscient narrator, just the opening of quotation marks, one of the few characters begins to speak, then the ending of quotation marks... beginning once more with the opening quotation marks for the next speaker's soliloquy, and so on and on in waves of thought. We follow each speaker from early childhood to old age, and we know them intimately by the book's end. Give the book a chance; at first I could only take three or four *pages* at a time, but also looked forward to these few pages every day. Later, I could easily read more and more, and truly the experience was like "waves" of life, lapping over my consciousness. If you like unique "novels," e.g. Nabokov's Pale Fire (although different it's unique too), this is a must-have. There's nothing else like it, even in Virginia Woolf's body of work. If you can't take the full load of first-person consciousness, but like her dreamy style, then go for her book of short stories. But I recommend keeping the book, and treating yourself, a few pages at a time... you too will feel at the end of a magnificent life's journey by time you follow each character's thoughts to the end.
This is a wonderful book. It is very experimental: everything is stream of conscience from the various characters who share similar life-stories through different eyes. Particularly delightful is the restaurant scene where the reader can see the thoughts of each character while they all stand around a table having dinner. As usual, Virginia Woolf is able to give each character his or her distinctive personality. This style might be trying for someone looking for lighter reading, though.
Harold Bloom (literary critic) put "The Waves" on his list of books that are worth reading and rereading. I heartily agree. It took me a few pages to get used to her style for this book (which is so unique and interesting), but I soon was absorbed into the thoughts of the characters. This is a book that I enjoyed, and will pick up to read again. I could hardly put it down. The themes are so universal that anyone can relate to them. I really felt for the characters and would like to know even more about them and their lives. I highly recommend "The Waves."
Reading the book and the inner monologues of the 6 befriended main characters of the book - the novel consists only in inner monologues, which are but not realistic than rather slightly lyrically sublimed - I had a hard reading for the first 50 pages or so, than it becomes more and more interesting to me till I greedily consumed the last 50 pages in the end. In about 230 pages the author lets tell her characters their lives from childhood till past middle age, from their shared education, their departures, moments in their lives and appointments with one another. The author is occupied for these questions, what others think of oneself, who really is the other and what am I myself. The author's language is an extraordinary thrilling and rich prose. The characters reflects almost just about their feelings on several occurrences in their lives, there are almost no social reflections. Their reflections are deep, meaningful and as I feel it, basically lonely. That is truly not my world, it's not my feeling of life. But Mrs. Woolf is a great artist and made me consume it by her wonderful prose. A too limited world, to my opinion, she created, nevertheless it is still a whole universe.
Woolfs book The Waves is a modern breakthrough. It is difficult to read, but satisfying if you take the effort. The book is about seven friends, and vi follow them from nursery school to their middle aged. The book has no traditional narrator, it is told trough the speeches of six of the characthers. They seldom communicate, its rather some form of poetic reflection. Although there is no narrator, the six characters voices is united by the same poetic imagery, so the reader gets a strong feeling of listening to on person, only reflected through the persons. Besides beeing an extraordinary novel, the book is made as part of the ongoing litterary debate at her time. The moderns wanted to write a novel without a plot, the important thing should be the rich life on the inside, with preferably no "outer" references. Some critics mean that her attempt has failed,I think the book is great, but read it at least twice! If your interested in modernism, you can't go around this one.
The style of The Waves may be daunting at first, but I urge readers to stick with it and open themselves to the rhythm, the beauty and the many insights the novel has to offer. The characters may be seen as individuals in the various stages of life, but I view them more as an amalgam of humankind, male and female, child and adult. Each one expresses, through private thoughts and reflections, the ebb and flow of life and perception. Woolf's language is as gorgeous and penetrating as ever, reaching the heart and bone of all that conspire to create a human life, a human consciousness. Virtually all of Woolf's works break with tradition, this one perhaps more so than the others, and it is, like the others, a stunning success.
I was lucky enough to find a first edition of this book (1931) in a used bookstore. It was a gift for my wife's birthday. With no dustcover, I did not have any information about the storyline. Afterward, I started the story, to see if I made a good purchase. With the slow beginning, I thought that I had made a mistake. I was wrong. The characters are honest and timeless. They allowed you to explore their personal thoughts as they did. As a reader, I became interested in their activities and viewpoints. This is a wonderful novel. I am glad that Ms. Woolf explored this style so eloquently.
I had read 'between the acts' and appreciated it, but this book is a diffrent genre.Written only in monologues with some of the purest and most beautiful prose i have read.It requires concentration and full attention at all times, but deserves both. Not a book for everyone, but those who appreciate the aforementioned characteristics will find it inspiring, and refreshing to read through its honesty.Also note resemblance of monologue structur to both the zen constitution of the subject, and also postmodern perspectives on the fragmented flux of subject.