The Voyage Out

The Voyage OutThe Voyage Out PDF Epub Author Virginia Woolf Virginia Woolf S First Novel, Published In 1915, Was A Remarkable Beginning For A Writer Who Was Still To Produce Such Masterpieces As Jacob S Room, Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, And The Waves A Haunting Book, Full Of Light And Shadow, It Follows Mr And Mrs Ambrose And Their Young, Immature Niece, Rachel, On A Sea Voyage From London To A Resort On The South American Coast Here The Story Explores The Relationships Of A Group Of Lively, Eccentric English Tourists Before Eventually Focusing On Rachel For Her The Voyage Out Continues As She Grows To Maturity, Through Love And Then Illness And Death.Displaying Little Of The Experimental Style Of The Author S Latter Books, The Voyage Out Has The Semblance Of A Realistic Novel But Its Beauty Of Language, Its Wit, Its Intuitions, Its Elusive Flow Of Story Clearly Stake Out The Individual Domain Of Virginia Woolf. I m sitting in front of my computer screen wondering which of several angles to choose in order to make this review something than just another account of the plot and characters of The Voyage Out 1915 My copy of the book is on the desk beside me and I m sorting through the various passages I ve underlined looking for the slant that will please me most The following line describing leading character Helen Ambrose catches my eye She had her embroidery frame set up on deck, with a little table by her side on which lay open a black volume of philosophy. Helen Ambrose s fictional existence is happening one hundred years before my real life one but in some respects we aren t very different Like me, Helen is a middle aged woman who reads a lot Unlike me, Helen can t share thoughts about books with the world via a computer screen her book thoughts are kept within the confines of her mind while her creative urges are directed instead towards her embroidery screen But Helen, as we soon find out, likes to do things differently, even when it comes to embroidery she chose a thread from the vari coloured tangle that lay in her lap, and sewed red into the bark of a tree, or
Three things happened to me while voyaging on the underground because of this book 1 As I admire Virginia Woolf immensely and identify with her issues and topics, I tried very hard to concentrate deeply enough to be able to read in a very distractive environment squished into a full train I fought ag
How flimsy are the accroutrements of civilisation in the face of nature It s like it took Virginia a third of this novel to get out of her Victorian stays, chemises, petticoats and corsets Once she shakes off all the Victorian trappings though she moves with beautiful poise and clarity of purpose So, it s quite heavy footed to begin with, not as modern in tone and treatment as Forster who had already written a couple of his novels when she wrote this It s as if Woolf has to free herself of tradition by first embracing it She does this by creating a background cast of Victorian characters, elderly spinsters and erudite emotionally retarded elderly men and embarking on what seems a comedy of manners Not perhaps Woolf s forte though, that said, it does have some fabulous comic moments and made me laugh out loud at least three times It s clear Woolf couldn t help thinking of the older generation as enemies and her foremost inclination is to ridicule them This inclination muddies the early part of the novel a bit Forster was better at characterising elderly interfering women, mainly because he sympathised with them and was able to write about them with tenderness as well as mockery whereas Woolf seems to find it difficult to overcome a snobbishly scornful point of view Also, in the name of realism we re in a busy hotel she duplicates characters which means it s hard to differentiate some of the wome
Rachel Vinrace sets out on a voyage from the confines of her home in England, where she is raised by her spinster aunts, to the exotic coast of South America in the early twentieth century But than just the physical journey from one shore to another, The Voyage Out is a story of the transformation of this essentially unworldly girl to a self possessed woman in love with the seemingly enlightened yet searching young writer, Terence Hewet Some of the most lovely and illuminating writing flowed from Virginia Woolf s hand as she wrote the words to describe the conversations as well as the innermost thoughts of her characters Rachel reflects on her feelings as she sits in the room where she attended her first dance as a yet inexperienced girl at the South American hotel She could hardly believe it was the same room It had looked so bare and so bright and formal on that night when they came into it out of the darkness now the room was dim and quiet, and beautiful silent people passed through it the methods by which she had reached her present position, seemed to her very strange, and the strangest thing about
Self consciously recalling the fiction of Jane Austen, The Voyage Out makes strange the conventions of the nineteenth century British novel Woolf s first novel, published in 1915 in the midst of the First World War, echoes so many features of the past century s most popular form of literature Be it the story s creaky adherence to the marriage plot or the omniscient narrator s stilted interest in the female protagonist s moral education, most of the novel dutifully relies on conventions it knows to be
Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged life is a luminous halo, a semi transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end Virginia Woolf, Modern FictionIf we look at her works, what we evidently notice is that the idea which most engages Virginia Woolf is that of life itself Life as it is witnessed every day, the transition from one moment to the other and everything that comes in between A life not symmetrically arranged in a destined pattern but lived in the consciousness enfolding it A life gleaming in the perception of fleeting flashes A life resonating with ripples of thoughts, dispersing and then converging with other thoughts, forming a current creating eddies one moment and in other letting the stream run swiftly along the way A life pounding with emotions a relentless cascade from one end to the other In her first novel Virginia sets on a voyage to discover this idea, to understand her own relation with the notions lying concealed underneath mind and constituting life, her relation with people in her life, with a world largely unfamiliar till her twenties or with the notions like relation between men and women, a woman s position in society, happiness, beauty, time, space and delirium And though one misses her masterful strokes visible much clearly in her later works, one cannot help but admire the efforts undertaken during
We may not always understand the pattern in front of us, Woolf seems to be saying, and we may spend the majority of our life isolated from others and trapped within our own experience, but only by reconnecting to the pattern through people and through art can we truly be alive, writes Pagan Harleman, the Woolf scholar who wrote this fascinating introduction to my Barnes and Noble Classics edition of The Voyage Out. This voyage out really seems to be a voyage in, into the conscious choices of several people of different backgrounds and ideologies who find their lives entangled The question is whether the voyage is good for all, as life is faced with interminable problems and dismal consequences, as Rachel experiences, once she leaves her sheltered life We learn Newton s Law of Motion, in school, but we never truly process it He had never realized before that underneath every action, underneath the life of every day, pain lies, quiescent, but ready to devour he seemed to be able to see suffering, as if it were a fire, curling up over the edges of all action, eating away the lives of men and women You don t get climatic thought or action here ex
3.5 Hard for me to define my feelings on this novel, a stream of consciousness novel that has a great many characters Woolf herself was an observer of people, of society and that is certainly apparent in her characters, their thoughts and the situations in which they find themselves This is not an easy read, though it is a thought provoking one One the one hand I am not sure that it needed as many characters as there were, made this confusing than it needed to be Some of the thoughts and conversations may not have had huge impact had they been deleted My favorite parts were when they were still on the ship, felt I received a better feel for those characters, which was smaller, than I did with the larger cast later on So I loved this first part and also found the party at the hotel very amusing The appearance of the Dalloway on the ship was like a breath of fresh air Yet, there are many moments of brilliance, when a phrase or a description was just so perfect that one could recognize
It s been three years since I read The Voyage Out, but a recent read and review of Winifred Holtby s 1932 biography of Virginia Woolf and her work piqued my interest Holtby s discussion of characters, developed and one dimensional, symbolism, and method of story telling made re reading The Voyage Out a much easier project Interesting in the story was a quote about the main character, Rachel, who at twenty four has no real education except for playing the piano At one point, her guardian mentions, without exaggeration, that Rachel had no idea how children are conceived The quote She became less desirable as her brain began to work Not quite what is expected from a feminist writer Over the next several months, I am going to reread the rest of Woolf s work keeping in mind what I learned
Overall I found the novel on second reading to be very good The fully developed Woolfian sense of humor is here In the early going the book doesn t seem at all inferior to later experimental works Though those later works are leaner, engaged with how to represent cognition in a text In the later works, too, there is a somewhat greater ability to condense events to the numinous moment That s here, too, but I think such moments get a little lost in the somewhat larger, expansive authorial voice There are some interesting lacunae throughout In the opening shipboard section the author shows absolutely no activity on the part of what must be a vast ship s crew For a lover of Melville this seems to me a conspicuous deficit Our upper class travelers are often on deck, too, but they do not so much as even look up into the rigging Yes, very odd It s the same later when they board a steamboat to go up river into Heart of Darkness country It s almost as if the boat were supernaturally piloted We see virtually none of the crew An interesting feature of the English abroad at this time was their intense clubbiness and unwillingness to mix with locals As we were given nothing of what must have been a vibrant sailors s life onboard, now we are given nothing of the Spanish and Indian populations that surround them in South America When they decide to go see a native village it s in the manner of an entertainment than a genuine reaching out for cross cultural exchange It s a