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Orlando

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  26,233 ratings  ·  1,347 reviews
A playful mock 'biography' of a chameleonic historical figure, immortal and ageless, who changes sex and identity on a whim.
Paperback, 273 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Penguin Books (first published 1928)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
...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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Rakhi Dalal
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
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
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
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Paul
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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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
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
Miriam
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
Caris
I believe in love at first sight. Well, exposure, I guess. And no, not like that. When I first met Charles Bukowski, for example. I think I was two sentences into Ham on Rye before I knew exactly what this man would mean to me for the rest of my life.

But, statistically speaking, Buk’s an outlier. Usually, I’m a little slow to warm up. It’s not that I’m frigid, I’m just a little scared of getting burned. I’ve been fucked over by far too many writers to just reach into my chest and offer over my
...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
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
Zanna
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
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
mark monday
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
Madeleine
A mere 10-minute drive has separated me from my college best friend since March. Even with my knack for getting hopelessly lost in the wilds of Central Jersey, it’s the shortest distance between us since our days as roomies; unsurprisingly, however, life since we graduated six years ago has been filled with things like work and conflicting schedules and living with significant others whose company we actively enjoy and our shared inclination for decompressing in fabulously introverted ways, whic ...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
Mina
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
Sarah
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
El
Somewhat recently I was having one of those moments where I thought I was having a brilliant thought that no one had ever thought before which, as everyone knows, is not likely going to happen, everything is derivative, and oh, I'm just not that brilliant. But I had this idea of writing a fictional biography, and seeing how long it could be played off. Again, obviously not original. But in my thought process, I hadn't even considered Orlando as being exactly that.

Stupid Virginia Woolf, beating m
...more
Ksenia Anske
A man. A woman. A poet. A noble creature. A writer. Who is Orlando? Does it really matter? Does time flow through Orlando's fingers like a gale on the sea? Does love form on his lips, or on her lips, or on nobody's lips, to be devoured by hours and then years of melancholy, to be suddenly reborn at the sight of an oak tree, and then burn down to cinders again? What is life? What do leaves mean, or the rain, or why does one's chest rise in ecstasy at the sight of a sun ray falling through stained ...more
Taylor
I went in to Orlando wanting to adore every ounce of it. Virginia Woolf is an inherently fascinating person, and what woman writer hasn't read A Room of One's Own and been completely and utterly thrilled with it? I don't think I've found one.

However, I found Orlando unwieldy and hard to pierce - not because it's dense so much as I found it airy and shallow, which I hadn't suspected. With a story about an aristocrat who changes genders and lives 300+ years, I expected it to be more on the deep en
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Jill
Orlando; or, The World’s Most Interesting Premise Wasted

Virginia Woolf has a wild premise for Orlando: a boy living in Elizabethan England does not die and somewhere near the middle of his life turns into a woman!

What a spectacular starting point for an author not only wanting to provide a good story but also wanting to describe the effects of time and gender on a person. Maybe Virginia Woolf did that. Other readers certainly think she did. I do not, however. Orlando is the huge waste of a premi
...more
Leola
Who put rum in Virginia Woolf’s punch? Vita Sackville-West did.

So we have Orlando: a celebration of audacity. The best kind of audacity. The audacity that challenges, entertains, and regenerates. And I wonder, Who could accuse Woolf of having no sense of humour after reading this multifaceted comedy? It is all fun. Woolf goes so far as to adorn the pages with photographs of her beautiful and unconventional lover, as though to say, You don’t believe me? Look and see.

Written in the guise of a bio
...more
Dan
Oct 22, 2014 Dan added it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Virginia Woolf without the stream of consciousness...well there were a couple of pages toward the end.

Many reviewers see this as a book about feminism or lesbianism. I saw, instead, a story about the struggle we each wage to embrace our dual natures and individually discover who we are meant to be. Sounds kind of heavy but Woolf makes the journey entertaining and often comical.

While this is not the stream of consciousness fare we find in others of Woolf's work, it is definitely her style...page-
...more
S.
Beautifully written and thoughtful book about a character with many selves who survives centuries, switching genders in between. There is a manor house to anchor him/her, a lot of reflection, and thoughts extrapolating and fondling themselves into a pitch. It can be transporting if occasionally tedious.

“Then she called hesitatingly, as if the person she wanted might not be there, ‘Orlando?' For if there are (at a venture) seventy-six different times all ticking in the mind at once, how many dif
...more
Laura
Jan 11, 2013 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: K.D.
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie, Themis-Athena
A Christmas gift from dear friend U. aka T.A. Thanks a lot!!!

Page 12 - Preface
Many friends have helped me in writing this book. Some are dead and so illustrious that I scarcely dare name them, yet no one can read or write without being perpetually in the debt of Defoe, Sir Thomas Browne, Sterne, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Macaulay, Emily Bronte, De Quincey, and Walter Pater — to name the first that come to mind. Others are alive, and though perhaps as illustrious in their own way, are less formidabl
...more
Furqan
Orlando was an amusing if somewhat a bizarre novel. It is deemed Woolf's most accessible novel and it certainly is. I struggled enormously with To the Lighthouse because of its narrative being written in 'stream of consciousness' mode, which I find very difficult to engage with. Orlando, however, is not written in 'stream of consciousness' mode (except few passages in the end) and it also has an eccentric but engaging plot.

The protagonist, Orlando lives through four centuries, starting from the
...more
Chris
There is something about Woolf's use of language, at least in her fiction writing. It isn't just her word choice; it's the use of the commas, semi-colons, and periods. It's the tone. It's not poetry; it's like the bastard child of poetry and prose. I read parts of To the Lighthouse and Orlando to my dog, and she kept wagging her tail.

She likes Woolf. I think because of the language, but maybe it's because of the last name.

Orlando always gets attention because of the whole gender switcheroo. For
...more
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500 Great Books B...: Orlando - Virginia Woolf - Samadrita 3 13 Aug 12, 2014 07:02AM  
Facts behind the Orlando story 4 45 Aug 09, 2014 12:38PM  
Danske Læsere / D...: Fælleslæsning maj 2014: Orlando af Virginia Woolf 3 17 Apr 21, 2014 03:51AM  
Quotes 5 94 Mar 16, 2014 09:12AM  
Moments of Readin...: Gender Identity in Orlando 3 30 Feb 10, 2013 01:21PM  
Movie Adaptation 3 47 Jan 25, 2013 07:50PM  
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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
...more
More about Virginia Woolf...
Mrs. Dalloway To the Lighthouse A Room of One's Own The Waves Night and Day

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