I’m firmly convinced now that, for all her genius, Woolf was also bonkers. This novel had me completely lost until the Wikipedia entry gave me the key to understanding it. For me, this was like driving across the USA: miles and miles of boring nothingness interspersed with moments of sublime grandeur.
Sure, I understand how “clever” Woolf is with her little hidden messages, changing the character’s sex and extrapolating the time line so that it spans some five hundred years of an immortal life, but it did all feel like a bit of flowery, self-indulgent navel gazing. Admittedly, no one forced me to read it, least of all Woolf herself. My criticism is more at the literary camp who promote literature like this to the highest echelons of the art.
An important novel? Yes. A good one? Mmmmm, yeeees…. An interesting one? Not for me. I think I need to move to higher literary circles before I will fully appreciate this novel. Not sure if I want to do that though. I think there’s some merit in remaining a pleb.
I listened to a great BBC audio version read by the British actress Clare Higgins. She sounds like Judi Dench which is enough to make you want to listen to it anyway. Still, that’s as this is the highlight for me, it says even less about the novel itself.
I guess this is the poetess, the philosopher, the dreamer in Woolf coming out. It was all a bit too lyrical for me though it hasn’t totally put me off her yet.
He, for there could be do doubt of his sex though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it, was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.
The twelfth stroke of midnight, Thursday the eleventh of October nineteen hundred and twenty eight.
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good> excellent > superb