0229 | The Waves – Virginia Woolf

Context: Mrs Arukiyomi made some great flower decorations for her parents’ anniversary while I was reading this.

Wow wow wow wow. What an amaaaaazing book. It’s in fact the fourth Woolf that I’ve read but it blows everything she’s done before completely out of the water. There are hints of what is to come in the middle section of her previous novel To the Lighthouse but to pull off a 200 page novel of such astounding prose is nothing short of genius. Why did this woman never win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

There are six human characters in this book. Two other characters dominate them: the sea and time itself. The book opens with a beautiful short section describing dawn over the sea. These passages of the sea, in italics in my version, are scattered throughout the novel and encompass the span of a single day. But the ‘story’ starts with the six characters as children and ends with their lives at the end of the book.

What makes the novel so wonderful is the style that Woolf has employed. It is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It is entirely composed of the speech of the characters but this speech is not conversation. Instead it’s like the characters are describing themselves, their thoughts, their lives, their world to the reader. It’s utterly ethereal and some of the most beautiful prose, if not the most beautiful, that I’ve come across.

And throughout the novel, there are observations on so many aspects of life and all its stages which are full of pathos or wit or a mixture of both. It’s just sumptious.

Best read in one sitting, in silence and in isolation.

The sun had not yet risen.


I revenge myself upon the day. I wreak my spite upon its image. You are dead now, I say, school day, hated day.

They do not understand that I have to effect different transitions; have to cover the entrances and exits of several different men who alternately act their parts as [me].

I have lost friends, some by death… others through sheer inability to cross the street.

The waves broke on the shore.

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