To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse

by Virginia Woolf

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Overview

Bentley Loft Classics is proud to present To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

To the Lighthouse (5 May 1927) is a novel by Virginia Woolf. A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skillfully manipulates temporality and psychological exploration.
To the Lighthouse follows and extends the tradition of modernist novelists like Marcel Proust and James Joyce, where the plot is secondary to philosophical introspection, and the prose can be winding and hard to follow. The novel includes little dialogue and almost no action; most of it is written as thoughts and observations. The novel recalls the power of childhood emotions and highlights the impermanence of adult relationships. One of the book's several themes is the ubiquity of transience.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013279438
Publisher: Bentley Loft
Publication date: 10/12/2011
Series: Bentley Loft Classics , #43
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 450 KB

About the Author

Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her stepsister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favorite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid. With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938). Her major novels include Mrs. Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941).

Date of Birth:

January 25, 1882

Date of Death:

March 28, 1941

Place of Birth:

London

Place of Death:

Sussex, England

Education:

Home schooling

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To the Lighthouse 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 98 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Though it was somewhat difficult to get through, it was amazingly written. I read the book 6 months ago, and I can still vividly remember scenes from the book. I especially liked the one and only scene in the book with Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey alone. I still remember it after all these months.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Woolf has crafted some of the most wondeful, idiosyncratic and mystifying sentences in the English language, and, in the process, has created a portrait of a family that is unerring in its truth. Yes, the book is difficult, but the rewards are great, as the changes wrought by war, death, marriage, age and life itself are slowly revealed. This is my favorite book because it exemplifies all that literature can be and more, and I'm only 17. If I can reap the benefits of such a literary wonder, you can too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was my first encounter with Virginia Woolf's work and it will certainly not be the last. From the moment I opened the book, I was engrossed with Virginia's ability to create an ebb and flow of human emotion mirror the actual presence of the ocean. As you read the innermost thought of the characters you connect with them, seeing small clips of characteristics that describe yourself. This book is a minor taste of the stream-of-consciousness movement that Woolf was a part of, but is not as difficult to follow as the works of Joyce and others.
EdnaMole More than 1 year ago
I read about two books per month, usually choosing a variety of historical fiction and modern classics. I admit that I could not finish reading To the Lighthouse. Although pieces of the novel were very poetic, I found the style very frustrating to read. The narrative is mainly the mixed up thoughts of the characters and their thoughts jump wildly so that you don't know if the character is speaking aloud or not. There are pages of confusing thoughts involving a single few seconds of action. I would not recommend this book to the average modern reader.
LibrarianJP More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the most beautiful stories that I have ever read. Through a series of events that take place basically in two days, Virginia Woolf shows us that the human condition is a complex, yet wonderful state. By illustrating not only what people do, but also illustrating the thoughts and intentions behind the actions, Woolf humanizes her characters in a profound way. While reading this book, I found myself feeling with the characters; laughing when they laughed, mourning when they mourned, a truly remarkable experience. I believe that anyone that reads this book will be able to commiserate with the people in it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this for ap english 3 class...it's a pretty good book with lots of symbols and thoughts on life in general, however this book is fairly confusing and involves a lot of thinking on the reader's part...i'm doing a research paper on this book right now and learnign more than i did from the book...i would recommend thsi book if you're into 'discovering' the meaning of life or something boring like that.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This is the first book of Woolf's to baffle me a little. It wasn’t that I couldn’t follow what was going on, but that it ddin’t seem to end so much as stop. A family named Ramsey vacations on the coast of England before the Great War. The youngest son wants to "go to the lighthouse", but Mr.Ramsey keeps explaining that the weather won't permit it. Some young people get engaged, but she loses a brooch. Another young person paints but is not satisfied by her painting, and resents the young man who explains to her that women can't paint or write. The summer ends, apparently, without the lighthouse ever being reached. Ten years pass. Some Ramseys die. Eventually they come back to the house on the coast and head for the lighthouse. Woolf out-Melvilles Melville; the White Whale swims into his own book only in the last few chapters, but this one ends just as the remaining Ramseys are about to arrive at the lighthouse after ten years. And what (I ask myself) is the point of that? Well, I suppose the book is about the (often-delayed) journey rather than the (hypothetical) arrival, but that diférs the question; rather than answering it. Of course, with Woolf it isn’t about “plot” so much as it is about characters reacting to one another and to the occasional external event (e.g., the mysterious limousine in Mrs. Dalloway). But this cavalier attitude towards the reader’s expectation that something, at any rate, will be resolved –! That Woolf was a genius I have no doubt. Her words and characters are astonishingly _alive_. But, somehow, something feels missing from this one. To me, that is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately+Woolf+work+is+hidden+behind+her+reputation.++I+can%27t+believe+that+I+have+come+so+late+to+this+novel%2C+as+it+were+though+the+recommendation+of+a+physicist+writing+about+the+creative+process+in+scientific+method.+++Thomas+McClain+reference+the+portrayal+an+artist%2C+Lily+Briscoe+painting+a+seascape.++This+does%2C+in+itself%2C+make+this+book+worth+reading.++But+for+what+ever+reason+one+might+read+this+book%2C+you+will+very+likely+reread+to+fathom+the+literary+mastery+of+Woolf+writing.++She+desires+to+rank+among+the+best+of+the+20th+Century%2C+with+no+need+to+shelve+her+among+%22women+authors.%22++This+should+be+required+reading.%5D%21++Michael+Tan+Creti++++%0A%0A
rayski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A slow start, but once you're in then you're locked in. My book club chose this book because it was to be a review of the difference of the sexes. I read it to be more about the significance of importance we put on our lives or how we get so wound up in the moment and missing everything that really is important.Woolf shows the time wasted on such thoughts and missed opportunities to breath in the moment, really enjoying what you have and where you are. She does an amazing job of getting this point across in the second part where she moves 10 years across the pages, where the people are gone but the objects, possessions and mother nature remain. Then again in the 3rd passage where Cam looks from the boat and sees the cottage and its isle off the horizon getting smaller and smaller while the sea seems to engulf the little island and making it all look so insignificant to the overall horizon. Woolf does gives us some significance as she describes scenes of people past still being forever part of a place or moment that lives on in the rest of us. Upon finishing it, I immediately went back to re-read the first passage because initially I struggled to get through it. To the Lighthouse is a book that is better each time you read it.
SFM13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mrs.Ramsey could see the thoughts of her husband, children, and others throughout her life, and by the end of the book I found myself looking closer at the intangible characteristics of my own family members and acquaintances. Virginia Woolf tells stories of the Ramseys, Charmichael, Tansley, and the Rayleys. Set in the years of WWI at a vacation home on the coast, life seemed so tranquil, but hidden in the secret lives of the characters a turmoil of emotions brewed. I especially tuned into the scene with Minta as she matter-of-factly handed tools to Paul on the side of the road while he repaired the car. It was a mundane job, an inconvenience, but there wasn¿t much else she could do but be his friend in spite of their spoiled marriage. They were stuck there together, as they realized it was necessary to make the best of things in order to go on. Dialogue was seldom used to convey the character¿s actions, motives, or feelings ¿ most of the insight came from being able to transition oneself inside of each character¿s mind, and then look out by aid of Woolf¿s lyrical descriptions. The lighthouse, I thought, was a metaphorical replacement for seeing clearly. From the beginning, the trip to the lighthouse seemed unobtainable; hindered by the weather. And although Mrs. Ramsey had the ¿best sight¿ of them all, in the end Lily Briscoe and even Mr. Ramsey I believe had begun to see. As James and Cam, years later, finally reached the lighthouse with their father, the memory of their mother, straight and steadfast was there. ¿We perished, each alone..¿
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To the Lighthouse is a modernist classic, loosely about a family's vacation house but really about relationships and life. Woolf's storytelling is unique: so much of it is misunderstandings and awkwardness and unrelated strains of thought, not the polished and scripted story and characters of traditional novels. One of the protagonists is an artist who struggles with the impossibility of creating and re-creating the world in her paintings, and there certainly is that tension of how art can convey life, or whether it should even attempt to. As she paints, she considers how she wants to equally grasp "a level with ordinary experience, to feel simply that's a chair, that's a table, and yet at the same time, It's a miracle, it's an ecstasy." That's what To the Lighthouse does, taking completely mundane events and people and studying where art and elegance may still be found in the commonplace.
rizeandshine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The style of writing in To the Lighthouse was intelligent, modern, very descriptive and quite long-winded at times. I believe Virginia Woolf may have used more commas in a few of her sentences than Jane Austen in Mansfield Park. I enjoyed getting to know some of the characters in-depth, being privy to their thoughts. The middle section of the book where time passes really bothered me. I don't much like change in my own life and I was surprised to read so quickly through the extremely drastic changes which come to the family after having spent so much time in their thoughts over one particular day. Looking back on it, it was an interesting segue into the second significant day described in the part three but I did not appreciate the time warp while reading it. It was an interesting character study and I think presented a glimpse into Virginia's own life, as the setting and characters were based somewhat on her family.
fig82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Virginia Woolf novel. I found it initially to be somewhat of a "difficult" read, though not as much as say Faulkner or Joyce. Yet as the novel progressed I seemed to become more comfortable with the author's writing style. I ended up enjoying the book very much.
kvanuska on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book should always be permitted a good soak in one¿s intellectual juices before being reviewed. That¿s one of my personal ¿Review Rules.¿ Too often I feel overwhelmed upon finishing a book or swept away by an ending or the prospect of parting from a close friend, and that leaves me gushing about a book rather than looking at it critically and really assessing its value as an addition to the world¿s literature library. I¿m breaking all the rules with Virginia Woolf¿s To the Lighthouse. A cold eye and heart would strip this book of its power. And if you want that kind of assessment, there¿s an excellent one by Julia Briggs in the introduction to the Everyman¿s Edition of this novel. To the Lighthouse is a book that¿s meant to be felt, not simply read. The rhythm of its narrative needs to wash over and pull you down into it. Once submerged, what might have begun as a ¿difficult read¿ becomes second nature. I became so lost in each character. One moment I despised them and found dinner interminable, the next I was loving Charles for feeling so angry at their small talk, and so lonely all at the same time. I¿ve soooo been there are dinner parties ¿ not getting the drifts, but wanting to be there in the middle anyway. There were pieces of myself that I was finding in Lily and Mrs. Ramsey and Charles and James and Mr. Ramsey, in all of the characters, and I knew them all as much, or as little, as I know myself. The ¿Time Passes¿ section is so brilliant in structure and how it carries us through the difficult times, like the boat that in the end brings us to the lighthouse. I can¿t wait to re-read this book ¿ because I must. I know that I will find something completely different to love about it next time.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On its most simplest level, To the Lighthouse deals with the kind of meandering hours spent at a summer house on an island and the desire to make an excursion to the lightouse. The story meanders in an out of the concerns and dreams and hopes of the people there, pivoting aroung the central focus of Mrs. Ramsay, who holds everything together. One of my favorite moments is the dinner scene, in which Woolf graceful shifts from one character's point of view to the next, revieling the tapestry of human emotion (in one instance, three character simultaneously think themselves unique in how alone they feel). It's a beautiful book and I can see why it's on the Modern Library's list of 100 Best Books.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This classic Virginia Woolf novel is such a "mood piece." Comprised of three major sections, To the Lighthouse is predominantly a portrait of the Ramsey family and its influential, beautiful matriarch. Most of the "action" (and I use that term loosely) takes place at a summer home off the coast of Scotland. Part 1 is a "day in the life" of Mrs. Ramsey, whose house is chock-a-block with visitors. She is a constant presence, caring for the youngest of her eight children, keeping a watchful eye on her moody husband, meddling a bit in young romance, and ensuring both timely, well-prepared meals and the general happiness of her guests. The tempo is slow, the imagery evocative, the overall feeling ethereal.Part 2 is a short section called "Time Passes," in which the next ten years unfold in factual narrative. And yet this section, which unveiled a number of significant Ramsey family events, had a surprisingly emotional impact. This was followed by Part 3, with the Ramsey family once again at their holiday home, picking up the pieces of a life gone somewhat awry. The youngest children, now teenagers, accompany their father on a visit to a lighthouse near the island. They are filled with teenage resentment, pent up over years of somewhat tyrannical paternal rule. Their emotions ebb and flow like the waves lapping at the side of their boat.And what happens, exactly? Not much. And yet, somehow, I was entranced by this family's life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up with it and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach (p. 47) This is a book best read, and re-read, and savored to glean new details and insights each time.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like Woolf's other works, "To the Lighthouse" is told mostly through interior dialog and introspection by its characters. This story is set at a married couple's summer home in Herbrides; they have eight children, one of whom is a six year old who wants to sail out to the lighthouse. They are surrounded by various friends and acquaintances, including an atheist, an opium addict, a childless widower, and a couple of artists. In the first part the trip is put off because of the weather and ends instead with a large dinner party. The second part of the book, "Time Passes", is masterful. Ten years pass and from the perspective of the empty summer home, the fate of some of characters and world events (notably WWI) are revealed. In the final part, the family returns and at last set off to the lighthouse.There isn't much to the actual plot, but that isn't the point; the "plot" is the interior struggle we all have grappling with life and those around us. Woolf is masterful at flushing out her major themes, which are the transience of life and the complexities of the relationship between men and women. Her stream of consciousness technique, as in Joyce and Faulkner, is sometimes hard to follow, but this book is well worth reading. Quotes:On meaninglessness:"What is the meaning of life? That was all - a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with the years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one...."On memory:"...this scene on the beach for example, this moment of friendship and liking - which survived, after all these years complete, so that she dipped into it to re-fashion her memory of him, and there it stayed in the mind affecting one almost like a work of art."On motherhood and children:"They came to her, naturally, since she was a woman, all day long with this and that; one wanting this, another that; the children were growing up; she often felt she was nothing but a sponge sopped full of human emotions.""Oh, but she never wanted James to grow a day older! or Cam either. These two she would have liked to keep for ever just as they were, demons of wickedness, angels of delight, never to see them grow up into long-legged monsters. Nothing made up for the loss. When she read just now to James, 'and there were numbers of soldiers with kettledrums and trumpets,' and his eyes darkened, she thought, why should they grow up, and lose all that? ..... Why should they go to school? She would have liked always to have had a baby. She was happiest carrying one in her arms. Then people might say she was tyrannical, domineering, masterful, if they chose; she did not mind. And, touching his hair with her lips, she thought, he will never be so happy again....""...children never forget. For this reason, it was so important what one said, and what one did, and it was a relief when they went to bed."On nature:"...so that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts and seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again as she sat with the children the words of some old cradle song, murmured by nature, 'I am guarding you - I am your support,' but at other times suddenly and unexpectedly, especially when her mind raised itself slightly from the task actually in hand, had no such kindly meaning, but like a ghostly roll of drums remorselessly beat the measure of life, made one think of the destruction of the island and its engulfment in the sea, and warned her whose day had slipped past in one quick doing after another that it was all ephemeral as a rainbow..."On relationships:"Indeed he seemed to her sometimes made differently from other people, born blind, deaf, and dumb, to the ordinary things, but to the extraordinary things, with an eye like an eagle's. His understand
jackichan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To the Lighthouse was horribly vague and detached. It becomes especially irritating when Woolf makes it clear that she's doing this on purpose. There is no plot, there is only rambling. There are some great points throughout the book but they are few and far between and could be put into a few pages. Perhaps this a great insight into the female mind? You will enjoy this book if you love reading about another's challenge with being indecisive and having a low self esteem. Also, you will most likely feel like ending your life half way through.
jpsnow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
By page 20 I really felt like this was going to be a long, dull read that made Little Women seem effervescent. But all that expressive mucky-muck transformed quickly into a work I now see as some odd mix of Faulkner and Fitzgerald. The focus jumps from one person and place to another but it's discernible. Woolfs ability to express emotions and events with minimal verbiage is impressive. The writing itself is eloquent, moods and nuances are conveyed easily and there is an underlying meaning that I will not do the disservice of risking belligerent over-analysis. Somewhere in there, she conveys that human relationships are complex in character, that things change and still stay the same as time passes, and that each of us is somewhat alone not matter how much we are not.
eas311 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a class on Intellectual History in the 20th Century. It was easily my favorite book in the course. And it was stunning.
hilllady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fifteen years since I've read this book. For that long I've diligently moved it from household to household, unpacking it with all my other books on its proper shelf and packing it up again, and I've thought of it fondly, a book of my youth, worthy of respect. But, as the years passed, that regard came to contain a measure of trepidation: to take it up again would be such a commitment, such a weight, because it's Woolf, and not only do her sentences twist and take unexpected turns that force the reader's concentration merely to establish subject, object, verb, but the weight of them, collectively as sharp and true as any surgeon's scalpel, cutting to the reader's heart¿well, it's hard to volunteer for that every day, when so many more comforting books are calling. But yesterday I picked it up, who knows why? I've been on a diet of Alice Munro and Sherman Alexie, lately, and some echo there maybe made me think of Mrs. Ramsay. And now I'm in. How amazing, the surge of emotion this story provokes across such a span of time, from its very first sentence, or, more specifically, from the brutal transition from that second paragraph¿"To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as if it were settled..."¿to the third: "But," said his father, stopping in front of the drawing-room window, "it won't be fine." And what other writer can use the phrase "odious little man" with such wicked compassion?
Qarik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was a chore to get through. I truly do not understand why she is considered such a great author. My theory is the phenomonon of "If I don't get it, it must be good". Kinda Like Felini or David Lynch. I have never enjoyed writing styles that did not make sense. Woolf does not make sense. Nor do I like subject matter the dwells on human neurosis which this book mainly consists of. It's like an intellectualized "Ally McBeal" or "Grey's Anatomy". Some might say I am a caveman and afraid of complexity. Not true. I appreciate complexity. I doubly appreciate complexity when it can related in simpler terms.
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book in college and while I don't remember the details now, I do remember the feeling of beauty and insight in what may be Woolf's best novel.
araridan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't just throw 5-star ratings around like nothing...this book was great..extremely satisfying. When describing the book, it sounds like it would be horrible- wealthy family with a vacation home on an island, plus wealthy house guests and dinner parties (usually) equals boring pretentious tripe. To The Lighthouse, however, tells its story through the thoughts of the various characters...however neurotic that may be sometimes. The men are all intelligent, but emotionally reserved. The women ar...more I don't just throw 5-star ratings around like nothing...this book was great..extremely satisfying. When describing the book, it sounds like it would be horrible- wealthy family with a vacation home on an island, plus wealthy house guests and dinner parties (usually) equals boring pretentious tripe. To The Lighthouse, however, tells its story through the thoughts of the various characters...however neurotic that may be sometimes. The men are all intelligent, but emotionally reserved. The women are charming and witty if sometimes frivolous. And while they are bourgeoisis, you end up liking them anyway...their struggles with finding success in life; the need for praise from one generation to another; and worrying about the fates of those around them. Just read it. I haven't enjoyed a book this much in quite a while.
jddunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rife with uncertainty, complexity in relationships, actions, and gestures; futility, entropy, battles to stake out identity and meaning amidst it, indefinable hope, and so on. Me likey.