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Orlando

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3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  37,514 Ratings  ·  2,064 Reviews
Originally published in 1928 this classic story by Virginia Woolf was modelled on her friend Vita Sackville-West's personality. Orlando chooses her own sexual identity as she lives through three centuries as both a man and a woman.
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published November 3rd 2011 by Penguin Books (first published October 11th 1928)
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Luis Felipe Be warned that this is not precisely light reading. It's a dense novel ripe with elevated vocabulary and what I can only describe as poetic…moreBe warned that this is not precisely light reading. It's a dense novel ripe with elevated vocabulary and what I can only describe as poetic descriptions and little to no dialog between the different characters. The language is beautiful, but rather complex and sometimes it's a lot to process at once. This is definitely a step above Mrs. Dalloway in that regard.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kelly
My mom made me clean my room this weekend. No, not a teenage pain-in-the-ass cleaning of the room, this was THE cleaning of the room. As in, it was finally time to take apart the room I’d had in that house since we moved there somewhere around my thirteenth birthday.

Look you guys, I get it. I’m twenty-four. That’s another one of those Facts of Life that just happens to you, and most people would say I was far past time for this. And you know what? I was doing okay with it. It went slowly, but i
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Renato Magalhães Rocha
This was my first time reading Orlando. It was also my second time.

I like to think that everything happens for a reason - not that I believe it was planned or decided by a powerful creature for me - but because the idea that everything effects what surrounds it sounds about right to me. So I see a purpose in this reading experience that Virginia Woolf provided me and take it as an important lesson to carry with me from now on - and how appropriate that it came just at the beginning of a new and
...more
Dolors
Jul 08, 2013 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dolors by: My Woolfish hunger
Shelves: read-in-2016
Orlando might have been devised as a mere divertimento, as a playful attempt to challenge the established views on sexuality or as a fantastical tale to confront the history of East and West by questioning the boundaries of space and time, but to this reader this novella meant much more. It meant a universe of fluctuating moods, characters and sweeping poetry that gives reason to be through the act of reading.

How to describe the nuanced melody of finely threaded irony prodigiously in tune with t
...more
Samadrita
The most prudent way to review a Virginia Woolf book, perhaps, would be to write 'THIS IS STUPENDOUS. GENIUS. AMAZING. WHY HAVEN'T YOU READ THIS YET?' and leave it at that. Because not only does this relieve you of the responsibility of casting about for appropriate words to serenade Woolf but also because you know no review in the world does justice to the sheer magic that she is capable of creating with words.
But since I have a thing for self-flagellation(not really), I wish to undertake preci
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Rowena
I absolutely adored this book. The style is definitely different from the other Woolf books I've read so far. What stood out for me was the beautiful use of the language, maybe more than the story. The novel had an almost fairytale-like feel to it, and I was definitely enchanted from the start.

I don't think the following is a spoiler as it is included in the book's blurb : this book is about a 16 year old boy, Orlando, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who one day wakes up to find that he has be
...more
Paul
Dec 29, 2010 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this many years ago; before I knew very much about Virginia Woolf and her relationship with Vita Sackville-West, to whom this is dedicated. The background is vital because it adds so much and because it helps the reader to reach an understanding of Woolf’s generosity. It is as ever, beautifully written and drifts splendidly through the centuries and the key is Vita and their circle.
As Woolf was writing this her affair with Vita was beginning to wane as Vita was moving on to other l
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Fionnuala
I like nothing better than when two books I happen to be reading have a conversation, even if brief, so I was really pleased when Virginia Woolf’s fictional character Orlando mentioned Jonathan Swift, whose Journal to Stella I’ve been dipping into for some time now.

Orlando, who in some sections of Woolf’s book uses the title Lady Orlando, had just been speaking of a visit from Swift’s one-time bosom pal and fellow political essayist, Joseph Addison, when Swift appears on the scene.
Orlando desc
...more
Miriam
Jul 27, 2010 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orlando was much funnier than I expected, and much less fantastical. Since I was familiar with the plot before beginning the book and had heard much literary criticism concerning the famed transformation, I was expecting the focus to be on gender issues. While these were certainly present, Woolf presents them fairly gently. Orlando is so strongly an individual that his/her sex hardly matters from a readerly standpoint. Indeed, I found it harder to believe that he was a successful ambassador than ...more
Praveen
Oct 13, 2016 Praveen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My second Virginia Woolf book.
This further improved my understanding of her work.
I loved this one too !
AfterTo the Lighthouseand this one, I have decided to read Mrs. Dalloway in line to reach to a conclusion of my opinion about her books.
Only after completing this third book of her, I'll write detailed reviews on her all three books !
Rakhi Dalal
Nov 11, 2013 Rakhi Dalal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always, Woolf has stunned me with the magic of her prose here. Telling this isn’t important, neither that it is a biography; that it informs us about the affair of Vita and Violet. I guess much has been said about that. When I started reading, I had no idea about the references to people, places, their characters or their lives as are known to be mentioned in this work. In fact, as the novel proceeded from Orlando’s gender change for the first time, I had a notion about the invisible layer of ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
You know how people say that some books are ahead of their time. I think Woolf's Orlando is a book which probably won't be understood for another decade or so.

The sudden change of Orlando's sex and his several centuries old existence along with/her very easy acceptance of those things rings of magical realism. The fantastic bit that of Orlando's living through several centuries is used to develop the book into what looked like a poem on the spirit of Time. Through different ages, Orlando tastes
...more
Aubrey
Let it be known that, despite seeming evidence to the contrary in the form of my reviews, I do indeed have a sense of humor. True, it is a small and desiccated thing, unusual in its feathering and tending towards the qualities of the morbid and the sadistic. However, it delights in incongruity to the extreme, and what makes it laugh will win its love forevermore.

This book could have simply tickled my fancies to the bone and nothing else and would still have won me over in a complete state of ado
...more
Ben
But what is the present moment?! What does it involve? More than we know, of course. It involves the self, we know. Is that all we know? Me here, writing on my couch, and you, you there. But there is more! Here in this room there is more! A table, its wood, the details, labored, toiled upon for many hours, furnished from carpenters in years past in the great state of Maryland, land of our Great Queen Mary!; a beer sitting on the table, on a book on the table, sweltering, a Mexican beer!; it sits ...more
Madeline
I finished this book about a week ago, and have been trying ever since to figure out how I'm supposed to review it. I honestly can't think of anything to say except this:

Every single emotion I've ever felt and every thought I've ever had, had already been felt and thought and written down by Virginia Woolf decades before I was even born. There is not a single concept or feeling in any of her books that isn't already intimately familiar to me. Reading her books is like having someone look into my
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What's the connection between Virginia Woolf and the Russian mafia? Easy - in 1991 Sally Potter decided to film Orlando, one of the loveliest, most ravishing novels in the English language. Somewheres in the middle of the story there, you have a truly extraordinary sequence about the remarkable Frost Fair of 1654, which was when the River Thames itself froze over and they erected a fair with stalls and games and rides and greased pigs and whatnot on it, a carnival of the utmost brilliancy right ...more
BrokenTune
Mar 16, 2015 BrokenTune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"Are we so made that we have to take death in small doses daily or we could not go on with the business of living? And then what strange powers are these that penetrate our most secret ways and change our most treasured possessions without our willing it ? Had Orlando, worn out by the extremity of his suffering, died for a week, and then come to life again? And if so, of what nature is death and of what nature life? Having waited well over half an hour for an answer to these questions, and none ...more
Nicole~
Orlando lies in a bed of hot ideas

Woolf designed a fantasy tale filled with allusions to Shakespearean plots and themes*, breaking and reconstructing the boundaries of gender, race, sex, and social conformity, conjuring up the image of herself as 'Judith Shakespeare' ( A Room Of One's Own) - that adventurous, imaginative scribbler with a flair for fiction, quill in hand - creating the masterpiece that will teleport through the Ages. Vita Sackville-West was her muse for this semi-biography which
...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Bam! This is me being hit by the The Greatness Syndrome again: when a book is so original, thought-provoking and fantastically written that there is nothing to say about it.

Does this seem eerily similar to my Penelopiad review? Oh well.

Helle
Some weeks added a century to his age, others no more than three seconds at most. Altogether, the task of estimating the length of human life (of the animals’ we presume not to speak) is beyond our capacity, for directly we say that it is ages long, we are reminded that it is briefer than the fall of a rose leaf to the ground.

High-spirited, poetic and fun, Orlando is Virginia Woolf’s one-off satirical romp of a novel, which she herself didn’t really take seriously (as she notes in A Writer’s Di
...more
Lynne King
UPDATE - The origins of “Orlando” can be seen in the entry in Virginia Woolf’s diary of Tuesday, 20 September 1927:

“One of these days, though, I shall sketch here, like a grand historical picture, the outlines of all my friends. I was thinking of this in bed last night, & for some reason I thought I would begin with a sketch of Gerald Brenan. There may be something in this idea. It might be a way of writing the memoirs of one’s own times during people’s lifetimes. It might be a most amusing
...more
Sarah
Jun 27, 2010 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Vita Sackville-West's son may have called Orlando “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature”, but let me tell you: if someone wrote me a love letter like this, their ass would be getting dumped shortly thereafter.

This book was like the song that wouldn't end- it just goes on and on (yet it isn't particularly lengthy) without saying very much of interest. Despite the fact that reading it was a serious chore, for whatever reason I couldn't just give up and toss it aside (much like
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
At the risk of writing a gushing, kneejerk non-review in the immediate flush of finishing, I think ... I think ... this is the one.

You can have your lighthouses and your dalloways - they are (indisputably?) more literary, more artful (I write that; I don't know if it's true). And for all the blurb writers' condescending labelling of this one as more accessible - gasp! - I will accept that there is just simply something I don't get about those others - get in my heart, that is. Get at a visceral
...more
Zanna
Jul 31, 2013 Zanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
In tribute to her beloved friend, Woolf allows reality to submit entirely to feeling, spirit and personality, casting Vita Sackville-West as a time-traveller who changes sex at the age of thirty. The result is joyous, riotous, and rings with a deeper truth than 'straight' biography ever could - for who expresses her character entirely in her deeds? Orlando's change of sex and gender places her in female roles, and this is a fruitful transition, as editor Rachel Bowlby notes, expanding her unders ...more
Michael
6 January 2011
Dear Michael,

I hope you don't forget about me when school starts again. You shan't? Right?

Love,

Goodreads





















6th February 2011
Dear Michael,

Ummmm..................hello?


Sincerely,

Goodreads














































22 February 2011

Michael,

WTF, douchebag?

Sincerely,

Goodreads
































2 March 2011

Dearest Goodreads,

I have missed our long strolls down the avenues, discussing good books and laughing, the gondola rides, walking down the beach, 69'ing in the back of the church, and all that other romantic stuff we've done over
...more
Eric
Orlando lives five centuries, but to my mind Woolf endows only two of them, the sixteenth and the nineteenth, with anything like a full measure of her erudite brio and antiquarian fantasy. Nothing in the novel surpasses the Renaissance fantasia of the first chapter—sixty pages of the most enchanting, festive, parti-colored prose you’ll ever read. Orlando opens his/her eyes on the “Merrie” England young Yeats found in Spenser—the “indolent, demonstrative” England where “Men still wept when they w ...more
Sara
Jan 02, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In gran parte delle introduzioni e presentazioni a Orlando — il cui titolo completo, non dimentichiamolo, è Orlando, una biografia — si insiste un po' troppo sulla dedica a Vita Sackville-West, spiegando poi col basso gusto del pettegolezzo che questa eccentrica aristocratica fu adultera e bisessuale, nonché probabilmente amante della Woolf, e che, tra le altre cose, amava dare scandalo presentandosi in società abbigliata come un maschio. Ne consegue un paragone limitante: Orlando è l'alter ego ...more
Carmo
May 09, 2016 Carmo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglaterra
Orlando é uma biografia fictícia baseada na vida de Vita Sackville-West, amiga intima de Virgínia Woolf, e com quem terá tido um caso amoroso durante alguns anos. A primeira edição do livro apresentava, inclusive, Orlando através de uma foto real da própria Vita. Também o poema “O Carvalho” que Orlando vai escrevendo ao longo do livro, é na realidade, da autoria de Vita Sackville-West.
A história de vida de Orlando começa a ser contada quando este tem apenas 16 anos, e termina nos seus 36. Parale
...more
Jim
Another wonderful adventure in words by Woolf. Orlando traces an imaginary nobleperson through several centuries from the days of Elizabeth and Shakespeare to the Interwar years in London and the surrounding countryside.

Woolf uses a "biography" style to tell Orlando's story, but this is pure fiction bordering on magical realism. Orlando inhabits many forms and functions over 300 plus years, encountering many of the great nobles and writers of Britain, sometimes in their own era, sometimes transp
...more
Mina
Mar 19, 2008 Mina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess this is one of those books whose quality is determined by the lens with which it is read (see: Brideshead Revisited, The Custom of the Country). Which is to say, I dove into this novel expecting to wend through the modernist qualities of other Woolf books I had read--formal experimentation, themes of psychoanalysis, shifting perspective, etc.--and was quickly disappointed at the outset by the straightforward 19th century narrative.

This seems to be a common reaction to "Orlando"--dissati
...more
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6765
(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length es
...more
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