Tuesday 9 August 2011

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

 "We perished, each alone."

The empty and decaying country house. Mrs. Ramsay's green shawl idly swaying upon the horrid skull on the wall of the children's room. The kitchen table lodged in the pear tree. Mr. Ramsay's boots. The drawing room-steps. Lily's blurred painting with greens and blues attempting to capture some kind of profound meaning. These are only a few vivid images from Virginia's Woolf's To the Lighthouse that will haunt me forever. Like a translucent dream or an impressionist painting that overwhelms the senses, this is one of those inimitable novels of such complexity, beauty, perception and pathos that transcends time; an unequivocally singular vision of insurmountable depth; a plaintively ambitious and insightful exploration of the human soul and consciousness.  Thus, in my humble opinion, establishing itself as the apotheosis of great fiction and rendering the majority of literary works as painfully mediocre in comparison. Just the mere reflection on this novel causes tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat -- not that the story is depressing (although there is a pervasive melancholy of loss and uncertainty that permeates much of the text) but rather, Woolf has miraculously captured the perplexing essence of life itself with such insight, narrative innovation and poetic craft. This is not a novel to be rushed. Woolf's elegant prose and stylistic virtuosity of language should be savored. 

My attempt to write a review of this novel seems like a futile endeavor and perhaps after subsequent readings, I will return and write more extensively on it. After reading To the Lighthouse, it is difficult not to view the aesthetic possibilities and the power of fiction in an entirely different way. Make this novel a top priority and you can thank me later.


  1. This is pretty high on my to be read list at the moment having just finished rereading Mrs Dalloway and started The Waves. I'm just in awe of her.

  2. If you are a fan of those two novels, I can't see you not loving this one. As of this moment, Woolf is my favorite and her writing is just sublime. I mean, how the hell do you top this?