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To the Lighthouse
by Virginia Woolf

209 pages (January 1990)
Harcourt Brace; ISBN: 0156907399

Novel by Virginia Woolf, published in 1927. The work is one of her most successful and accessible experiments in the stream-of-consciousness style. The three sections of the book take place between 1910 and 1920 and revolve around various members of the Ramsay family during visits to their summer residence on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. A central motif of the novel is the conflict between the feminine and masculine principles at work in the universe. With her emotional, poetical frame of mind, Mrs. Ramsay represents the female principle, while Mr. Ramsay, a self-centered philosopher, expresses the male principle in his rational point of view. Both are flawed by their limited perspectives. A painter and friend of the family, Lily Briscoe, is Woolf's vision of the androgynous artist who personifies the ideal blending of male and female qualities. Her successful completion of a painting that she has been working on since the beginning of the novel is symbolic of this unification.

articles and reviews
May 8, 1925
Virginia Woolf Explores an English Country Home
"To The Lighthouse" Is a Brilliantly Ambitious Analysis of Domestic Psychology
Reviewed by Louis Kronenberger

It was with "Mrs. Dalloway" that Virginia Woolf, achieved a novel of first-rate importance rather than of great promise and talent, and as a method in fiction, "Mrs. Dalloway" has begun already to make its influence keenly felt. Two novels of the present season seem to pay it the tribute of imitation. It is written all over Nathalie S. Colby's highly successful "Green Forest" and just a faint flavor of it creeps into Babette Deutsch's much less successful "In Such a Night." The method of "Mrs. Dalloway" is substantially retained by Mrs. Woolf in this new novel, "To the Lighthouse," but though one encounters again her strikingly individual mingling of inward though with outward action in which the "stream of consciousness" style is liberated from its usual chaos and by means of selection and a sense of order, made formally compact--one finds the method applied to somewhat different aims. [read more]


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