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The Voyage Out

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  5,536 ratings  ·  315 reviews
Woolf’s first novel is a haunting book, full of light and shadow. It takes Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose and their niece, Rachel, on a sea voyage from London to a resort on the South american coast. “It is a strange, tragic, inspired book whose scene is a South americanca not found on any map and reached by a boat which would not float on any sea, an americanca whose spiritual boun ...more
Paperback, 375 pages
Published February 3rd 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 1915)
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I’m sitting in front of my computer screen wondering which of several angles to choose in order to make this review something more than just another account of the plot and characters of The Voyage Out (1915).

My copy of the book is on the desk beside me and I’m sorting through the various passages I’ve underlined and the margin notes I’ve made, looking for the slant that will please me most. The following line about one of the main characters, Helen Ambrose, catches my eye: She had her embroide
Rakhi Dalal
Jun 30, 2015 Rakhi Dalal rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Woolf fans
Shelves: woolf, bloomsbury, journey

“Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”
― Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction

If we look at her works, what we evidently notice is that the idea which most engages Virginia Woolf is that of life itself. Life as it is witnessed every day, the transition from one moment to the other and everything that comes in between. A life not symmetrically arranged in a destined pa
"We may not always understand the pattern in front of us, Woolf seems to be saying, and we may spend the majority of our life isolated from others and trapped within our own experience, but only by reconnecting to the pattern through people and through art can we truly be alive," writes Pagan Harleman, the Woolf scholar who wrote this fascinating introduction to my Barnes and Noble Classics edition of The Voyage Out.

This voyage out really seems to be a voyage in, into the conscious choices of s
Dec 03, 2012 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: wanna win don't play
Recommended to Mariel by: colonize Mars on Earth Day
I wrote a review of The Voyage Out in July, 2012 after I read it. I deleted it because I lash out ("Stupid, stupid, stupid!") at myself. It's just a book review, Mars. I don't know how to use semi colons. I recognize them no more than I would see the brush strokes on a painting. The Virginia Woolf reviews on this site are more than a little intimidating. It isn't just because of the semi-colons but I gotta admit that I feel like Laura in The Glass Menagerie when she arrives to school late and ca ...more
22 February, 2014

Mr. H. Melville, Esq.
c/o The Spouter Inn, New Bedford, MA

My Dear Melville,

I pray this letter finds you well, as, you no doubt noticed, I could not do so in person. Do accept my apologies; since our whaling voyage two years ago it has been my fondest wish to journey with you again, and, indeed, it was my intention to visit you at the beginning of this year; but, alas, I have been detained by Mrs. Woolf. Damn that woman, she is too good! I did not mean to tarry long with her, but
Rachel Vinrace sets out on a voyage from the confines of her home in England, where she is raised by her spinster aunts, to the exotic coast of South America in the early twentieth century. But more than just the physical journey from one shore to another, The Voyage Out is a story of the transformation of this essentially unworldly girl to a more self-possessed woman in love with the seemingly enlightened yet searching young writer, Terence Hewet. Some of the most lovely and illuminating writin ...more
Freaking fantastic.

Rachel Vinrace is a naive and vulnerable 24-year-old young woman on a sea voyage from London to a South American resort with her aunt and uncle. Having been sheltered the first 24 years of her life, Rachel is exceptionally shy and startled when meeting new people on the ship, particularly when they show genuine interest in her as a person and as an intellectual. The relationships she forms with these people affect her greatly, and she even falls in love. This isn't just a book
It's been three years since I read The Voyage Out, but a recent read and review of Winifred Holtby's 1932 biography of Virginia Woolf and her work piqued my interest. Holtby's discussion of characters, developed and one dimensional, symbolism, and method of story telling made re-reading The Voyage Out a much easier project. Interesting in the story was a quote about the main character, Rachel, who at twenty-four has no real education except for playing the piano. At one point, her guardian menti ...more
Debbie Zapata
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? I certainly was before I read The Voyage Out, the first novel she wrote. I may still be conquered when I try her later work in the infamous stream of consciousness style, but I am no longer intimidated by the idea, especially if she retains the wonderful ability to create stunning images and ideas the way she did in this book, which was not necessarily difficult to read, but does deserve 100% of
your attention.

The Voyage Out mainly tells the story of Rachel Vinra
ETA: There is in fact a reason for Woolf including so many characters, and there is another theme too - how people react to a life changing event, in this case (view spoiler). Woolf looks at people's behavior, the behavior of family members, close friends and other acquaintances too. All these people were a necessary part of the book. You can observe Woolf observing people and our different ways of behaving. This book does not leave you when completed! No, it's quite a good ...more
Sonja - Intellectual Badass
She became a ship passing in the night - an emblem of the loneliness of human life, an occasion for queer confidences and sudden appeals for sympathy.
The Voyage Out is Virginia Woolf's literary debut and it is absolutely fantastic! I have to admit that when I started this novel I was hesitant and I was sure that it was just a classic. I thought I'd like it and maybe slightly enjoy it; but never love it. I've never been more wrong.

As soon as I finished the first chapter I realised that
Overall I found the novel on second reading to be very good. The fully developed Woolfian sense of humor is here. In the early going the book doesn't seem at all inferior to later more experimental works. Though those later works are leaner, more engaged with how to represent cognition in a text. In the later works, too, there is a somewhat greater ability to condense events to the numinous moment. That's here, too, but I think such moments get a little lost in the somewhat larger, more expansiv ...more
Dec 20, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Tyra Banks
Shelves: own, fiction

This is my first Woolf. I don't know what she intended with this novel, so for now I'll just go with my impressions as someone living in early 21st century America, where nearly everyone has to work for a living.

The characters in this novel don't. Oh, there's one wealthy industrialist, the ship-owner father of the protagonist, Rachel Vinrace - it's not clear if all his money comes from ship-owning, or some is inherited. Everyone else, with the exception of the one or two servants mentioned, has
Here's another one. This is Virginia Woolf still finding her voice as a writer. Certainly if she had written like this throughout her career she would have been remembered, but probably not celebrated as a genius. This story still has some of the hallmarks of her famous writing - focus on characters' perceptions, use of setting as a symbol for the characters' journeys, lyrical writing and even irony. This story began calmly and slowly and then came to a pretty sincere climax. The personal voyage ...more
I personally consider Virginia Woolf the greatest writer of the 20th century, period, bar none, man or woman, doesn't matter. But I'm not a writer myself so I don't have the ability, I can't find the words to express what I feel about what I've read. Many of you can and do write beautiful reviews worthy of the books they honor. Many times I've said, "that's how I feel, that's what I think". Oh well.

Having said that, this book is not one of her best. It's not bad, it's very good actually, it just
"The voyage had begun, and had begun happily with a soft blue sky, and a calm sea. The sense of untapped resources, things to say as yet unsaid, made the hours significant, so that in future years the entire journey perhaps would be represented by this one scene, with the sound of sirens hooting in the river the night before, somehow mixing in."

In The Voyage Out, we meet a myriad of characters, but the main focus is on Rachel Vinrace, a young sheltered English girl who departs on a voyage with h
This may well be a five star novel, but for now I’ll stick with four being this is her first novel I'm supremely confident it only gets better (and based on the short stories I've read, my only exposure to *Woolf, I'm sure this is true.) I think Virginia Woolf could be my new Nabokov. So, why does everyone want to keep us apart? First Blake, and then the people at Dover Publishing with their miniscule font and nonexistent line spacing and then those free ebook folks who put out a kindle version ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I had a bit of a time getting into this. Woolf is all over the place and the story is very loosely constructed. Finally, I decided to just let her give me a glimpse of the lives of people before The Great War and enjoy myself. And, sure enough, it was at that point I became absorbed. There is more story than that, and there is no question she was determined to become an important feminist author - even if the term had not yet been coined.

I expected this to be mostly a sea voyage, yet another poi
Prior to reading this novel, I would often recommend others to seek out Mrs. Dalloway as the best starting place for those new to Woolf. I apologize to those who took my advice and ended up never reading anything else by her ever again. In hindsight, I ought to have suggested her first novel, "The Voyage Out" instead. It's far more accessible to newcomers and not nearly experimental as her other laudable works that have a tendency to intimidate or cause great distress in readers due to their oft ...more
Jean-Paul Walshaw-Sauter
I'm no longer afraid of Virginia Woolf! "The Waves" is one of my all time favourite books; I often return to the interludes instead of listening to music; "Orlando" swept me off my feet with its wondrous exuberance and after finishing "The Voyage Out" I feel I can finally tackle "To The Lighthouse" and "Mrs Dolloway" which, until recently, I had found so daunting.

"The ship gave a loud melancholy moan."

"She became a ship passing in the night - an emblem of the loneliness of human life, an occasio
(3.5 stars) This was Virginia Woolf’s first novel and, apparently, the most linear and easy to follow of her novels. I haven’t read them all yet, but during the first half of The Voyage Out, it crept under my skin, and yet it’s difficult to say what it’s about, linear or not.

A group of English travellers are brought together on a sea voyage to South America where they meet a number of other English expatriates – and that’s basically it. We hear about their small troubles and foibles, listen in
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Opening lines:

As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist, lawyers' clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left h
I read this book not for school, but at the reccomendation of my English teacher for the first Virginia Woolf novel after reading the essays "A Room of One's Own", with an invitation to discuss it with her and to have the resource of her parents who had studied Virginia Woolf extensivly. I read a library copy, and then bought my own copy and read it again, marking up the book as I did so. This technique, called "active reading" is a requirement for all of the texts and handouts we read in school ...more
The Voyage Out is Woolf's first novel. It was originally set to be published in 1913 by the Duckworth Press, but Virginia was in the midst of a mental breakdown that delayed its publication. She continued to revise the work until it was officially published in 1915. She began work on The Voyage Out in 1907 under the title Melymbrosia, which would later find a separate place in Woolf scholarship as Melymbrosia An Early Version of "The Voyage Out" edited by Louse De Salvo in 1982.

Lytton Strachey
Stephanie Marie
For her first attempt at a novel, Voyage Out is an extremely significant moment in Woolf's career. First of all, for how much Woolf brings in aspects of her own life, Bloomsbury, and her own emotional state throughout her career, there's a curious sense that Woolf is taking careful pains to edit herself out of this novel. Written in the years after her first suicide attempt (after her mother and half sister Stella die), Voyage Out is clearly Woolf's attempt to situate herself-- still a young wom ...more
This is Woolf's first novel, and I picked it up as part of the "women writers" mood I was in immediately following my surgery. Of course due to its length, its difficulty, and my schedule, it took me twice as long to read The Voyage Out as it did to read Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Agnes Grey, and My Antonia combined. I enjoyed it because I enjoy Woolf - even the most boring plots with the most endless passages and the most elusive meanings will keep me transfixed with her poetry an ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Evan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Woolf fans
An impressive first novel that took 9 years to write. (Sound familiar?) A voyage out from England to some South American port where the novel's miscellany are all vacationing. And a voyage out of a highly cloistered youth for the 24-year-old heroine. Interesting to reflect on how much this is NOT Jane Austen. The difference is that Woolf is suffused with the hope and promise of the early twentieth century to move beyond all the social bonds and injustices of the 19th, coupled with a tragic lack ...more
Halfway through the book I couldn't go on reading, the lengthy descriptions of life on board ship and meaningless chit-chat of Englishmen heading towards an exotic country bored me. So I let it sit on my shelf for a few months. Luckily I decided to give it another try, because the second half of the novel made up for the disappointing* first part. Totally and completely. I'm mesmerised.

*Or maybe I had simply been in the 'wrong' state of mind?
Marts  (Thinker)
Published in 1915, this is Virginia Woolf’s first novel. It tells the story of 24 year old Rachael Vinrace who embarks her father’s ship for a South American voyage. It also highlights a personal voyage for Rachael where she leaves the sheltered London suburban life and steps into a new world in which freedom, self discovery, and interaction are pivotal…
The general path of the novel is one of discovery, to experience, to tragedy…

The character Clarissa Dalloway, the protagonist of her later novel
The title might have even been an antonym; I certainly felt it was a voyage in. I love the way Ms. Woolf notices everything; and then proceeds to put pen to paper with her hyper-specific illustrative style of writing. We're the voyeuristic passengers peeking in on the lives that float like veils across the pages. With Rachel Vinrace and Helen Ambrose the depiction is thorough, much is revealed. We are in their consciousness. Juxtaposed to them we have the actions of Richard Dalloway, where we ar ...more
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(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
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“I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one’s own, with pictures and music and everything beautiful.” 136 likes
“I want to write a novel about Silence," he said; “the things people don’t say.” 134 likes
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