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Orlando by Virginia Woolf review
Let's get one thing straight first: I might never have picked up this novel if it weren't required reading on one of my literature courses at uni. I'm not saying that it's horrible or that nobody should read it; I'm sure some people will get plenty out of it - heck, Lessing has praised it and I think her an amazing writer. Either way, this book... was not quite for me.
So, what's it about?
Orlando is a young man, a sensitive aspiring poet, who lives from the latter years of Elizabeth I's reign to the 1920s (and possibly beyond), observing the changes in the world. He meets poets and politicians has grand romantic adventures. Oh, and turns into a woman somewhere in the midst of it all. (No, this is not really a spoiler.)
The novel is at times verbose, at times strays into describing episodes that really seem rather pointless, and at times you have to wonder what the hell it's all supposed to mean. There are some rather subtle - well, subtle if you're not paying attention, and I confess that I wasn't as much as I perhaps out to have been - nods to other works (can you spot Othello
?). There are some really, truly frustrating bits. My brain pretty much exploded at one scene towards the end. Such is life. Such is literature.
Apparently, the whole damn book was inspired by the author's passionate love for someone called Vita Sackville-West. It's been called the longest love letter in the history of literature. I'll let you make your own judgement on that subject.
Would I recommend this book? Not really, aside from its status as a classic. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but it's readable. And, as I said, classic.
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