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Portrait of Virginia Woolf by George Charles B...

Portrait of Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford Deutsch: Die zwanzigjährige Virginia Woolf, fotografiert von George Charles Beresford (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently had a discussion about this book with some friends and coworkers who were reading this book for a book club. I was somewhat shocked to realize they hated the book and thought there was too much talking going on, which is all the reasons why I love To the Lighthouse.

My previous encounter with Virginia Woolf, let me raising my hand and running away scared when someone would ask the question Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I am, or was. She isn’t exactly the easiest writer to wade through. But I am glad I got assigned this book for a class because I picked it up for a class on Modernism, something I would never read on my own, and I ended up truly enjoying this book and Woolf!

To the Lighthouse is mostly about the Ramsay family. The first part of the book follows one day and has almost no dialogue or periods and lots of introspection. The book really has the family and their guests, they love to entertain, questioning every comment and every thought. They don’t act without deep introspection and questioning of motives and feelings. The same holds true after they say or do anything.

Mrs. Ramsay questions whether she loves her husband and why she thinks she might not love her husband. Does she think she is better than him? Does the fact that he understands her and her motives make her good wife? Does everyone have roles? What makes a good mother?

The second part, probably the most bizarre and abstract shows us that Mrs. Ramsay died as did two of her children. The third part has the remaining family and even some of the guests back at the summer house ten years later with little seeming to have changed.

Mr. Ramsay is still a grumpy old man trying to recapture something of his previous life. He forces his two children Cam and James to take a trip with him to the lighthouse. Only Cam and James are locked into internal debates of staying true to an unspoken bond against their father, their desire to be independent, and wanting to earn their father’s live. Each moment brings a different thought and each person seems to lack consistency and constantly change their thoughts and opinions. Each moment is an epiphany and a new battle. It almost is exhausting.

Except, I don’t think it is exhausting because I think Woolf’s novel might seem annoying; however, I think it is more a reflection of real life. We are constantly changing. We are always thinking and analyzing, whether we are aware of it or not, our brain is always working through issues. I think as humans we are pretty inconsistent people, making Woolf’s introspections kind of accurate. Maybe we are quick to think the novella annoying because it is highly accurate? Of course, the Ramsay’s are exaggerated, but they are still us at their core and I think that is what make this such a great book.

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