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Melissa_W
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ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole

Please use this thread to discuss Orlando in its entirety - please consider this a SPOILER FRIENDLY thread.

Melissa W.
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KathyS
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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole

Vita is Life in Latin

virginia-and-vita.jpg

It is a well known fact that Virginia Woolf wrote her gender-bending novel, Orlando, as a study of Vita Sackville-West in the waning part of their romantic relationship (they remained steadfast friends until Woolf’s death).

 

 

Woolf was probably better able to scrutinize Sackville-West as a character and bring Orlando to life as West began to disappoint the Bloomsbury novelist by having affairs. Nonetheless, the love between them ultimately never suffered.

 

 

Orlando is a testament to Woolf’s literary talents as well as her devotion and acuity of observation where Vita was concerned. Both novelists inspired each other’s writing in ways that their novels recount for us now.

 

 

Vita wrote to Virginia, “This is perhaps not what you call an intimate letter? But I disagree. The book that one is writing at the moment is really the most intimate part of one, and the part about which one preserves the strictest secrecy. What is love or sex, compared with the intensity of the life one leads in one’s book? A trifle; a thing to be shouted from the hilltops. Therefore if I write to you about my book, I am writing really intimately, though it may not be very interestingly … But you would rather I told you I missed Potto and Virginia, those silky creatures … and so I do …” ["Potto” was Virginia’s pug.]

 

 

Likewise, Woolf’s novels often deal with life directly (fiction being truer to life), and so on this gorgeous day in Baltimore, I offer up one more excerpt from Orlando to send you on your way:

 

 

“Let us go then, exploring, this summer morning, when all are adoring the plum blossom and the bee. And humming and hawing, let us ask of the starling (who is a more sociable bird than the lark) what he may think on the brink of the dust bin, whence he picks among the sticks combings of scullion’s hair. What’s life, we ask, leaning on the farmyard gate; Life, Life, Life! cries the bird, as if he had heard …”

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

For those of you who have read other novels by Virginia Woolf...

 

Is the writing style used in Orlando like the writing style in her other books? 

Laura

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

Orlando is more structured than something like Mrs. Dalloway but the flow of Orlando's thoughts is very much like the stream-of-consciousness form VW used for Mrs. Dalloway

 

 

Melissa W.
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Peppermill
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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole

so on this gorgeous day in Baltimore,

 

Okay, Kathy -- So who is Bill Knott?  Are we talking/illustrating here stream-of-consciousness? Or did you just simply go over my head or are you playing tricks with (my) linear thinking -- as Virginia Woolf is want to do in her writing? 

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole


Peppermill wrote:

so on this gorgeous day in Baltimore,

 

Okay, Kathy -- So who is Bill Knott?  Are we talking/illustrating here stream-of-consciousness? Or did you just simply go over my head or are you playing tricks with (my) linear thinking -- as Virginia Woolf is want to do in her writing? 

 

Pepper


ROFLSmiley.gif Smiley ROFL Emoticon Animation Animated gif image by prestonjjrtr

Pepper, if you look up at the top of that post of mine (just above the picture), you'll see that it wasn't mine.  It was just an article I found, that I liked, and copied and pasted it, but I was sure to leave the person "Amy"'s name to it.  It's her "stream of consciousness", whoever she is.  I have no idea who Bill Knott is, probably someone she knows in Baltimore, somewhere I've been, but not there at the moment! LOL  Sorry to mislead you, or disappoint you. 

 

Kathy

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style


Fozzie wrote:

For those of you who have read other novels by Virginia Woolf...

 

Is the writing style used in Orlando like the writing style in her other books? 


It is distinctly VW,  but storylines differ.  One  takes place in a day, as in Mrs. Dalloway.  One takes place within hours, as in Between the ActsTo the Lighthouse takes place over several years....and so on....but each has in its own way with you.....there are always subtle flavors, and some very vibrant flavors, too, (as with The Waves)..... to each of her books.  Some I like, some not so much...I just enjoy her writing.  She's like taking a roller coaster ride, but you never know where you will end up.

 

You really do have to be into analyzing the words in her writing, to get the full value from what she is saying.  I realized we weren't going to do that with Orlando, but I don't think I could have spent the time to do it anyway.  It's just too intense for me, and too personal.  I remember, To The Lighthouse, I got massive headaches  and dreams and visions, straight out of who-knows-where, when I discussed that one!....Virginia ripped me into tiny pieces, and I'm still on my hands and knees looking for some of those pieces!

 

When I signed up to participate on this discussion, I was over-joyed, and excited....but as time got nearer, I was frightened half out of my mind!  I knew there would be no way in .....for me to do this book justice, or Virginia justice,  or any of her other books, for that matter.  I've read so much about her, and it's been such a personal journey for me, that I can only tell about who she is, and leave the novels to the readers, to digest as they should be.  

 

I think my favorite is her collection of autobiographical writings, Moments of Being.   It's excerpts of her life, and it's a pure joy to read her poetic thoughts.  I've read pages, over and and over, for the purity of those thoughts. You do come as close to her, as with any of her other writing.  If you want to learn about her, read this one.

 

I think people who read VW tend to want to come to understand her as a person.  I think I attempted to explain this once....was it Pepper I had talk to about this....Pepper?   I can't remember.  Just last year,  I  talked to Lisa Tucker about this emotional tie, and feelings I have for VW.  I had written to Lisa about her last book, which dealt with characters with similar mental problems as VW had,  and surprisingly Lisa confided in me these same connections she had, herself, to VW.  It's an emotional tie that I can't fully explain, not that I haven't tried a bazillion times!

 

Not everything that comes out of Virginia's mouth makes sense to me, but it doesn't have to, because I love to just feel her words, and soak up all the nuances of emotional trivia that comes out of her head. 

 

I love those streams that come from her mind,  that twist and turn and land you on your  bottom!  I love those observations that she makes about nature.  She wrote so much about what she saw in nature; trees, the fields,  and flowers, and rivers and streams...her characters were as much a part of nature as bark is to tree!  We all live in a world that we need to be conscious of,  whether physically, or mentally, and she wrote words from her subconscious that take me to places of awareness.

 

I can't tell you, or anyone, to read Virginia Woolf, because I think she has to beckon you, first.

 

Kathy

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

[ Edited ]

Kathy takes on Virginia Woolf, and perhaps life itself, with more passion and fervor than I do, Fozzie. 

 

I enjoy the insights she gives, the ways she plays with words and ideas.  I haven't read her work deeply and broadly.  Somewhat as for some other authors (Poe?, Plath? ...), and friends, for that matter, I avoid the vortex of their passions, while savoring the intensity with which they bring a vision and perspective of reality and life to their readers and to those that touch their lives.

 

Most of all in Orlando, I enjoyed the humor and the word play, plus the comments on writers and writing.  But, I am sure I am repeating myself at this point.

 

Has anyone here read something by Alexander Pope that they would recommend?  I know that some used his translations when we were studying the classics, but the sense I got of those was that they were a bit over-blown and presumptuous by today's standards for literary scholarship and translation.

 

(The text of The Rape of the Lock is here, preceded by background notes and itself annotated.)

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

Thanks, everyone, for your comments on the writing style of Virginia Woolf.  I guess I did "get a Virginia Woolf experience" then, reading Orlando.

Laura

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

Laura,

 

I hope you got, if only a little enjoyment out of reading Orlando, and a few laughs along the way.  I know she would have loved her readers to find those insights into her humor.

 

There is no harm in saying you didn't like this book, or anything else that she wrote.  She's not for all readers.  She knew that.  I think that's why she was always so frightened of her reviews, before they came in.  She knew her reviewers, and anticipated what they might say. There were good reviews, rave reviews, and ones that didn't like her writing at all. 

 

America took hold of The Years, and made it a success.  They wanted her to lecture in America, promoting her books, along with giving an insight into herself.  She refused.  No amount of money could persuade her to take herself into the public eye the way that she was asked to do. It was too personal for her.  She knew herself better than anyone could.

 

Reviewers, readers are who they are, who we all are.  As you and I know, we all read differently, and that's how it should be. And as Ilana recently reminded me, we can't all like the same books.  So many diverse writers, as there are readers.  I think it's great that there is someone/something for everyone! 

 

Knowing VW's works hasn't been a study for me (far from it), as with probably most of her followers. It's been a journey of understanding myself.  She opened the door for me; I walked in, sat down, and we talked.  She captured my heart, to put it simply.

 

Kathy

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

[ Edited ]

Sometimes I wish I hadn't gotten so involved in the words of Daughters of the Witching Hill this month, because I could have equally enjoyed pulling and garnering comments on quips from Orlando.

 

For example, from this Chapter 6:

 

"...Surely, since she is a woman, and a beautiful woman, and a woman in the prime of life, she will soon give over this pretense of writing and thinking and begin to think, at least of a gamekeeper (and as long she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking)...."  (p.268 in my copy)

 

And it goes on -- and one's mind leaps to D.H. Lawrence, whom Viriginia deems not to name.  :smileyvery-happy:  Or, to continue jumping through history, from Henry VIII's Katherine to our own age's Lady Di.

 

Or, who of us has not done this, although perhaps not with a string of pearls:

 

"...so that several park keepers looked at her with suspicion and were only brought to a favorable opinion of her sanity by noticing the pearl necklace which she wore...."

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style


Peppermill wrote:

Sometimes I wish I hadn't gotten so involved in the words of Daughters of the Witching Hill this month, because I could have equally enjoyed pulling and garnering comments on quips from Orlando.

 

For example, from this Chapter 6:

 

"...Surely, since she is a woman, and a beautiful woman, and a woman in the prime of life, she will soon give over this pretense of writing and thinking and begin to think, at least of a gamekeeper (and as long she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking)...."  (p.268 in my copy)

 

And it goes on -- and one's mind leaps to D.H. Lawrence, whom Viriginia deems not to name.  :smileyvery-happy:  Or, to continue jumping through history, from Henry VIII's Katherine to our own age's Lady Di.

 

Or, who of us has not done this, although perhaps not with a string of pearls:

 

"...so that several park keepers looked at her with suspicion and were only brought to a favorable opinion of her sanity by noticing the pearl necklace which she wore...."


Pepper, you found the quote that I love....Ha!  Virginia gave us a birds eye view of what it feels like to be a woman!  To write and think as a male, and as a female, and to have a brain, as a woman, she stuck it out there for the world to see the comparisons!  The novel, Orlando, works, because of this.

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style


Peppermill wrote:

Sometimes I wish I hadn't gotten so involved in the words of Daughters of the Witching Hill this month, because I could have equally enjoyed pulling and garnering comments on quips from Orlando.

 

For example, from this Chapter 6:

 

"...Surely, since she is a woman, and a beautiful woman, and a woman in the prime of life, she will soon give over this pretense of writing and thinking and begin to think, at least of a gamekeeper (and as long she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking)...."  (p.268 in my copy)

 

And it goes on -- and one's mind leaps to D.H. Lawrence, whom Viriginia deems not to name.  :smileyvery-happy:  Or, to continue jumping through history, from Henry VIII's Katherine to our own age's Lady Di.

 

Or, who of us has not done this, although perhaps not with a string of pearls:

 

"...so that several park keepers looked at her with suspicion and were only brought to a favorable opinion of her sanity by noticing the pearl necklace which she wore...."


Pepper, I also immmediately thought that Woolf was referencing Lady Chatterley's Lover!  However, I was surprised to read in the notes that the commentator had originally thought the same thing but later became aware (I believe through the notes to an earlier edition) that Orlando was written earlier than Lawrence's work!

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

Just a few random thoughts that I had when reading the last section.  I'm afraid that having an injured eye this week has not only discouraged me from reading for fear of straining myself, but for some reason I haven't felt like thinking too profoundly, either.

 

From comments on earlier threads (and perhaps the biographical notes in my edition, although I'm not sure), I had expected that Orlando was going to lose her family home, as Virginia Woolf apparently had lost Knole.  However, I was surprised when I read that the lawsuits were finally resolved in Orlando's favor.  Of course, near the end, the home is also open to the public, but Orlando still lives there, as in many of the old British estates where the upkeep is too much for the owners to handle.  I don't want to give away the movie, but there was an interesting twist that had a different result.

 

I was surprised that Orlando was so ready and willing to give up the original manuscript to her poem about the Oak Tree.  She had kept it close to her heart all of her life and guarded it jealously, so for her to simply hand it over to Greene and walk away was a shock.  Of course, it turned out to be very successful and made her famous, but there was no guarantee of that, and after she left it, I expected there to be a lot of emotional reaction on her part to the separation from it.  I don't remember her even thinking about it.

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

Oh no!  Take it easy, Dulci!  Get well soon :smileyhappy:


dulcinea3 wrote:

Just a few random thoughts that I had when reading the last section.  I'm afraid that having an injured eye this week has not only discouraged me from reading for fear of straining myself, but for some reason I haven't felt like thinking too profoundly, either.

 


 

Melissa W.
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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

Thanks, Melissa!  A word of advice - when you're lying in bed only half awake, keep your hands away from your face, or you might stab yourself in the eye with a fingernail and scratch it badly!  It's awakened all my fears of having something happen to my vision - everything I love to do involves using my eyes!  But it's getting better; just a little swollen and blurry now, and most of the pain is gone.

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style

Ouch! :smileysad: I've been there - when I was 7, a kid in gym class scratched my cornea with a fingernail.  It hurt sooooooo bad - I'm glad you're on the mend.

Melissa W.
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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style


KathyS wrote:

Laura,

 

I hope you got, if only a little enjoyment out of reading Orlando, and a few laughs along the way.  I know she would have loved her readers to find those insights into her humor.

 

There is no harm in saying you didn't like this book, or anything else that she wrote.  She's not for all readers.  She knew that.  I think that's why she was always so frightened of her reviews, before they came in.  She knew her reviewers, and anticipated what they might say. There were good reviews, rave reviews, and ones that didn't like her writing at all. 

 


 

I did laugh out loud several times while reading the book, and I did finish it!  No, her writing is not for me, but now I can finally say that I have sampled her work.

 

Laura

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Orlando

[ Edited ]

dulcinea3 wrote:

Thanks, Melissa!  A word of advice - when you're lying in bed only half awake, keep your hands away from your face, or you might stab yourself in the eye with a fingernail and scratch it badly!  It's awakened all my fears of having something happen to my vision - everything I love to do involves using my eyes!  But it's getting better; just a little swollen and blurry now, and most of the pain is gone.


Good grief, Dulcie, that really must hurt!  I won't ask you how long your fingernails are!  Ha!  I do sympathize with you, a lot. Please get better, I don't want to see you on the sidelines!

 

Kathy

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Re: ORLANDO: Week 4, Chapter 6 and the Novel as a Whole - Writing Style


Fozzie wrote:

KathyS wrote:

Laura,

 

I hope you got, if only a little enjoyment out of reading Orlando, and a few laughs along the way.  I know she would have loved her readers to find those insights into her humor.

 

There is no harm in saying you didn't like this book, or anything else that she wrote.  She's not for all readers.  She knew that.  I think that's why she was always so frightened of her reviews, before they came in.  She knew her reviewers, and anticipated what they might say. There were good reviews, rave reviews, and ones that didn't like her writing at all. 

 


 

I did laugh out loud several times while reading the book, and I did finish it!  No, her writing is not for me, but now I can finally say that I have sampled her work.

 


I feel somewhat similar.  I did really enjoy reading the novel, and she had a deft touch with the humor, which is always a draw for me.  Part of the reason I wanted to read it was that I had never read anything by Virginia Woolf and I was curious.  However, if I had not seen and been so intrigued by the movie first, I might have passed it by.  She doesn't fit into the genres I read most, so I doubt I will read more by her.  I have seen other movies based on her works as well, but they did not touch me like the movie Orlando did.

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