Virginia Woolf


1882 – father: famous writer of Victorian novels so she grew up in an intellectual atmosphere  Concerning her education, she received private Greek lessons + she read many books of her father’s library

When she was young, she spent her summer at the sea and in her art, the water plays have a central role, as symbols of:
- fertility, sensuality of women and feminine fluidity in opposition to masculine rigidity (this contrast is analysed in To the Lighthouse)
- it stood for the possibility of the resolution of intolerable conflicts in death

1895, Virginia Woolf was only 13, the death of her mother affected her deeply and it influenced his works  revolt against his father (rude and aggressive) + idealisation of domesticated women

1904, her father died and she had her economical and artistic independence – her literary career began when she moved to Bloomsbury with her sister Vanessa

They became members of the Bloomsbury Group which included the avant-gard of early 20th century such as Russel or Duncan. This group was characterised by:

- rejection of artistic conventions
- creativity
- critics against bourgeois society
- refuse of sexual codes
- anti-war
- Style: revolutionary stream of consciousness prose style to give voice to the inner world of feelings // inside the characters’ minds through a continuous flux – Virginia is a modernist novelist but in opposition with Joyce, she never lets her characters without control. Her style is very fluent because she wants to understand the intricate thoughts and express feelings in a logical way so using connectors and mixing monologue and third person narration to explain.
 Virginia used this narrative technique for the first time in 1925 when she wrote Mrs Dalloway

1912, marriage with Leonard Woolf gives her a stability but she attempts suicide by taking drugs
1915, The voyage out - a novel where she still uses a traditional pattern
1925, The Common reader – an essay which contains many issues connecting with women’s conditions
1927, To the Lighthouse - a series of experiences, memories, emotions, feelings held by symbols concerning Ramsay’s family and their guests in a period of 10 years divided into three sections:
- The window
- Time passes
- The lighthouse

1928, Orlando
1929, The waves - shows a link between her creativity and her illness
II World War increased her anxiety and fears and at the age of 59 in 1941, she drowned herself in the river Ouse

To the Lighthouse - 1927
It is autobiographical concerning characters: Ramsays are modelled on Woolf’s parents and the setting on the house where Virginia spent her summer – to explore the relationship between husband and wife and in general man and woman.

Mrs Ramsay is a very well-done character and she represents the domesticated woman idealised by Virginia after her mother’s death: a beautiful woman and a loving wife who constantly supports her relatives and other characters in the novel even if she is always busy. She is conscious that beauty and pleasure are ephemeral and concerning her behaviour, she is kind and tolerant towards her guests // she represents a sort of unity, opposed to the world marked by chaos, decay, war

Lily Briscoe is a dynamic character who evolves during the novel; she is a young painter and a guest of Ramsay’s family – at the beginning, she rejects the image of the traditional woman represented by Mrs Ramsay but at the end she achieves the sense of unity and completeness thanks to her art and to Mrs Ramsay and she gives order and form to her emotions

The central idea of the book is that nothing lasts and every character regrets something // the novel deals with the theme of loss and temporary state of men

Concerning symbolism:
- The sea represents the fullness of life
- The window symbolizes the connection between the self and the society
- The lighthouse represents comfort, life, enthusiasm, a reference point in a changing world
- Lily’s painting symbolizes a rejection of conventions and the power of feminine creativity in order to understand human emotions

Concerning colors:
- white means the abstract thought and the rational world of Mr Ramsay so it is a negative lack of color
- red represents a proud individualism
- blue remembers the sea
- yellow is the purity

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