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Orlando: A Biography (1929)

por Virginia Woolf

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10,592174671 (3.89)2 / 560
Orlando doubles as first an Elizabethan nobleman and then as a Victorian heroine who undergoes all the transitions of history in this novel that examines sex roles and social mores.
1920s (32)
AP Lit (100)
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It’s almost a century since Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando. Yet if even it’s just her exuberance, it seems like a fresh view of so many of today’s stale concerns (transgender, intersex, writing, biography, time, love). Half-way through, when I began to wonder if I’d had enough of this exuberance, I began to sense she had suddenly shifted gear. She did exactly this in [b:To the Lighthouse|59716|To the Lighthouse|Virginia Woolf|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1639106809l/59716._SY75_.jpg|1323448]. I should have more faith. Of course, Virginia Woolf would write something more than a love letter, more than a rollicking parody, more than a narrative. That said, she’s probably too clever for my pedestrian assessments.

Almost from the outset she employs what I’ll call a processional excess. Fernando Arrabal took it to extremes in [b:The Burial of the Sardine|5385509|The Burial of the Sardine|Fernando Arrabal|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1555725098l/5385509._SY75_.jpg|127048]. The technique takes the form of a listing game: a list of possibilities. This for example,
…and so he would go on, and she would listen to every word; interpreting them rightly, so as to see, that is to say, without his having to tell her, the phosphorescence on the waves; the icicles clanking in the shrouds; how he went to the top of the mast in a gale; there reflected on the destiny of man; came down again; had a whisky and soda; went on shore; was trapped by a black woman; repented; reasoned it out; read Pascal; determined to write philosophy; bought a monkey; debated the true end of life; decided in favour of Cape Horn, and so on. P.246.


My edition of the book required 2 bookmarks because it’s encrusted with notes. In a peculiar way, the notion of a biography is more present in these notes than the text, especially in the way facts become verified, non-verified or misapplied. But no matter how cleverly Virginia Woolf performs, and this book is a performance, this is a hymn to Vita Sackville-West - or at least to the spirit of the woman. What’s so wonderful about the gender shifts is the freedom from the encumbrance of gender. Similarly, the freedom from temporal constraints allows writer, reader and subject to delight in a kind of wilfulness that surprises with its humour. There is a gratuitous pattern to how this is achieved. It is invariably related to the sensuality of desire for what is absent in Orlando’s life, at the time. For a characterictic example,
’Madam,’ the man cried, leaping to the ground, ‘you’re hurt!’
‘I’m dead, sir!’ she replied.
A few minutes later, they became engaged.
The morning after, as they sat at breakfast, he told her his name. p.239.

Having known love at first sight, I was seduced by Orlando and Marmaduke Bonthrop Shelmerdine’s instantly comfortable romance. But although the marriage was a natural consequence of Orlando’s desire for a mate, and complicated by gender interchange, there was a curious absence of carnality. On reflection, this lack of carnality could well be the point. Although this book is a celebration of womanhood, it is also about writing, just as it is about London. It is about how we construct a life. The writer is sexless in order to write with clarity and veracity, not just without the constraints of patriarchy but without the constraints of matriarchy. Some of the so-called English feminist writers I have recently read (e.g. Rachel Cusk, Deborah Levy) clearly exhibit gender constraints and this is a shame because English female writers have no choice but to write as if Virginia Woolf existed. But what would I know, trapped in the corridors of my patriarchy?

I mentioned lists of possibilities. This is a book of propositions. Some, like time, get us in the end. Orlando can still enjoy the rooms of her estate, but they are ultimately roped-off from the public. As I see it, the book’s main proposition is: what if we could be free (from sexual exclusivity) to invent our lives and enjoy whatever possibilities come our way, wouldn’t life be rich and fun?
Having recently built a library, I find, unexpectedly, that the books now talk amongst themselves and decide what I’m to read next. So fascinating that they should choose a biographical parody of a passionate bisexual gardener to follow [b:The Unusual Life of Edna Walling|4885132|The Unusual Life of Edna Walling|Sara Hardy|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1279364809l/4885132._SY75_.jpg|4950521] by Sara Hardy.
( )
  simonpockley | Feb 25, 2024 |
my first virginia woolf! what a remarkable work that does not feel dated at all. i knew this book tackles gender and sexuality (always a timely topic), but i did not know orlando was woolf's love letter to her friend and lover, vita sackville west (according to one of vita's son). viewed as that, the story feels even more luxurious.

need to watch the movies ^_^ need to re-read ^_^ ( )
  riida | Feb 7, 2024 |
Se trata de una obra en parte biográfica, basada en la vida de la novia de Woolf Vita Sackville-West. Se considera que es una de las novelas más accesibles de Woolf, y por ello la de mayor éxito de la autora en vida. Ha influido mucho estilísticamente, y se la considera importante en la literatura en general, y en la escritura femenina y los estudios de género en particular... ( )
  AmicanaLibrary | Jan 31, 2024 |
Orlando is a person so immersed inside of a profound internal life that centuries pass without an acknowledgement and genders are slipped in and out of like clothing. The literary equivalents of recitative and aria are reversed: physical events are treated with distance and dreamy conceptualization while matters of the mind are given a fierce urgency. It is a trick that annihilates time and subordinates reality to abstraction.

So yeah, I liked this book a lot. ( )
  ethorwitz | Jan 3, 2024 |
I don't think I have turned around on a book as much as this, but my initial trepidation turned into wonder and joy.

Sumptuous, scandalous, and joyous.

Woolf had no issues with pronouns or writing satirical historical crush insert T4T fanfiction in 1928 and the BBC has been recording performances for many years and recently. It's almost as if trans joy and acceptance is a beautiful thing. ( )
  RatGrrrl | Dec 20, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 172 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
"Orlando" by Virginia Woolf, published in 1928, is a semi-biographical novel that explores the themes of gender, identity, and the nature of art through the life of its protagonist, Orlando. The novel spans over three centuries, beginning in the Elizabethan era and ending in the 1920s. Orlando, who starts the novel as a young nobleman in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, undergoes a mysterious transformation into a woman midway through the book, living on through various historical periods while barely aging.

The narrative is notable for its lyrical prose, playful tone, and speculative approach to history and biography. Woolf uses Orlando's unique experiences to critique societal norms, particularly those relating to gender and sexuality, and to question the constraints these norms impose on individuals' lives. The novel also reflects on the nature of writing and literature, as Orlando aspires to be a poet, struggling with literary creation across centuries.

"Orlando" is considered a pioneering work in the genre of gender-fluid and transgender literature, and it has been celebrated for its ahead-of-its-time commentary on gender roles and identity. It was inspired by Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West, and can be seen as a love letter to Vita, exploring themes of androgyny and the complexity of human relationships. The novel remains a significant work in Woolf's oeuvre and in the broader landscape of 20th-century literature, admired for its innovative narrative technique and its bold examination of identity and artistic expression.
 
Next time anyone tries to tell you – as people often do – that Virginia Woolf was a cold fish, just direct them to her seductive writing about winter. It warms the heart.
adicionada por Nickelini | editarThe Guardian, Sam Jordison (Dec 5, 2011)
 

» Adicionar outros autores (109 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Woolf, Virginiaautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Alfsen, MereteTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Bowen, ElizabethPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
DiBattista, MariaIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Gilbert, Sandra M.Introduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Herlitschka, Herberth E.Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Herlitschka, MarlysTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Higgins, ClareNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Hussey, MarkEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Livi, GraziaIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Lyons, BrendaEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Nuie, CorneliusArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Scalero, AlessandraTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Scalero, GraziaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Simonsuuri, KirstiTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Whitworth, Michael H.Editorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Winterson, JeanetteIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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He - for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it - was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.
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Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another. (p. 11)
But worse is to come. For once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system it weakens it so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the inkpot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing. (p. 53)
Orlando had become a woman - there is no denying it. But in every other respect, Orlando remained precisely as he had been The change of sex, through it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity. (p. 97)
No passion is stronger in the breast of man than the desire to make others believe as he believes. (p. 105)
She was a man; she was a woman; she knew the secrets, shared the weaknesses of each. (p. 112)
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Orlando doubles as first an Elizabethan nobleman and then as a Victorian heroine who undergoes all the transitions of history in this novel that examines sex roles and social mores.

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