Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

August Books 20) The Waves, by Virginia Woolf

I must say I was very glad to be completely unspoilered for this before I read it.

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

It took me a few pages to work out what was going on, but once I did I wondered why nobody else has ever tried the tight-third multiple narrative quite this way. It's a really different, gripping and intimate pattern of story-telling, giving a rounded presence, both inside and out, to each of the six characters. (Susan perhaps getting less of a fair shake.) It blew me away.

It's also obviously a response to Ulysses, where Joyce tried a similar trick, but from fewer points of view and covering a single day. In The Waves, which is about a sixth the length of Ulysses, less is more, and we get decades in the space of 170 pages.

I had always thought of Woolf as a young novelist. But one of the points that struck me from The Waves was its evocation of my own experience of getting a bit older and watching my friends getting old with me, usually at more or less the same rate. So I wasn't completely surprised to find that she was much the same age as I am, in her late forties, when this was published in 1931.

It's one of those books I shall return to again in a few years' time, but I'm very glad that I found it now.
Tags: bookblog 2014, writer: virginia woolf
Subscribe

  • December 2006 books and 2006 books roundup

    My final Crisis Group publication was a briefing on Kosovo. In my four years and eight months there, I had overseen the publication of 46 reports,…

  • November 2006 books

    As previously mentioned, we started the month with a half-term break at my sister's in Burgundy. Cluny is a remarkable town with a ruined abbey…

  • October 2006 books

    The major personal developments for me in October 2006 were breaking the news of my imminent job change to colleagues and friends, and also finding a…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment