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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  11,929 ratings  ·  830 reviews
The Waves, more than any of Virginia Woolf's novels, conveys the complexities of human experience. Tracing the lives of a group of friends, The Waves follows their development from childhood to youth and middle age.

While social events, individual achievements and disappointments form its narrative, the novel is most remarkable for the rich poetic language that conveys the
Paperback, 278 pages
Published 1993 by Wydawnictwo Literackie (first published 1931)
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Oct 17, 2007 Seddrah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
a great recommendation from a friend. Seems like it could be life-changing, or possibly a little sad or maybe both. The hand-written inscription in the copy I found used was worth the entire purchase anyway, read it:



I'm sure you know that you've been on my mind a great deal over the last few days. I've struggled for words to capture my own grief at your mom's death, to express my appreciation for yours, and perhaps, to offer some solace by explaining to you how strong an impression

The sun rose. Its rays fell in sharp wedges inside the room. Whatever the light touched became dowered with a fanatical existence. A plate was like a white lake. A knife looked like a dagger of ice. Suddenly my copy of ‘The Waves’ became alive as the clouds on the cover page started floating in resplendent movements and the water of the ocean moved swiftly over the edges of several dog-eared pages carrying along thousands of words written upon them, to a world they rightfully belongs to. Driftin
This is It. This is The Book. The One. The collection of carefully crafted words I hold most dear in the world.

It is for this very reason I cannot write a reasonable review, I cannot simply tell you that this is a masterpiece, that this deals with the most profound and important issues of Being in the most beautiful ways imaginable, nor can I simply say that, though I have read it many times, I still find new pearls to treasure in almost every line.

So I will take a quote, a relatively famous o
“No, but I wish to go under; to visit the profound depths; once in a while to exercise my prerogative not always to act, but to explore; to hear vague, ancestral sounds of boughs creaking, of mammoths, to indulge impossible desires to embrace the whole world with the arms of understanding, impossible to those who act.” - Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Virginia Woolf never ceases to amaze me. If someone had told me a couple of years ago that I would actually enjoy books written in the stream-of-consc
Probably my favorite book ever written. The 'waves' become a compound metaphor of sheer brilliance; we are all a harmony in the chorus of life, a part of a whole but each an individual part of beauty equally beautiful in solidarity as the whole. I wish I could write a single sentence as glorious as Woolf.
I've read this book several times. The first attempt my mind drifted off half the time because there is no plot (which is perfectly fine). I wandered so much that I had to reread the final chapter but by the time I got to the last two pages I burst into tears. It vouches for the power of a book when the reader can be so moved by the ending after only truly paying attention to the final chapter.
I love what The Waves says about being human, being flawed, the importance of small events, small momen
Ian Heidin[+]Fisch

"The Waves" is arguably the greatest single work of literary Modernism, superior to Woolf’s own "Mrs Dalloway" and "To the Lighthouse" and potentially to Joyce’s "Ulysses".

The first two of these works are temporally much more limited in scope, the last so stylistically diverse that it can’t be said to have a singular integrity (which is not to criticize it; this criterion is quite the opposite of its design and intent).

"The Waves" extends beyond one occasion and encapsulates enti
What is that quote, that one that says that you cannot read some books, you can only reread them. Here is one. Rampant poetry that you ride, crest in and crest out of the waves of words that flow in such a way that one sentence is one of many, a social construct like the bees and the birds flocking in the sky. Fluidity does little justice to this book. One word does not exist without all the rest, and it is better to float through the sentences rather than tear them down and open into some sembl ...more
"Your book is a poem, and as I think a great poem. Nothing that I know of has ever been written like it...The beauty of it is almost incredible. Such prose has never been written and it also belongs to here and now though it is dealing also with a theme that is perpetual and universal."
Goldsworth Lowes Dickinson, Cambridge, 1931

"In this book she is convey a whole vision, the essence of life."
Storm Jameson, novelist

E.M. Forster explained that he found it difficult to express himsel
Stephen P
We know so little of others. Barely we capture pieces of ourselves which can be cobbled together into what we believe ourselves to be; the unified presence necessary to calculate and cope with with the underside of the unfurling wave of life's chaos.

The book opens upon a group of innocents, small sensitive children at a private school in the country. They take turns, perhaps in a game, naming what is happening around them. Would children speak in the perceptive elevation of poetics? The sentence

Virginia Woolf referred to this work not as a novel, but as a “playpoem”. It consists of monologues spoken by six characters, three female and three male, who recount their lives from childhood to old age and death. The various stages of the characters’ lives are interspersed with nine brief third person accounts of the seaside at different stages of the day from sunrise to sunset. The work is in effect an extended poem, with the various voices of the characters sometimes separate, sometimes flo
“And the poem, I think, is only your voice speaking.”

From the very first line, Woolf throws her reader into six different minds; we see what they see, hear what they listen to and feel what they touch or are touched by. These six narrators show us glimpses of their childhood, their surroundings, their fears, their midlife, their loves, their ambitions, their failures, their sacrifices, their old age and lastly, their deaths. Somehow all these glimpses are stained by some sort of sadness; at tim
Hard to rate, impossible to review – because I read it in two parts separated by a hiatus, two months during which I did not think of the book, during which she passed out of me; because I was bored and baffled on one page, dumbstruck by visionary lyricism on the next; and because at times the whole concept seemed laughably ridiculous (I know now that Blood Meridian just doesn’t work for some people), though in spite of my titters I found her obsessions with the ego's phrase-making, with identit ...more
Nate D
Jul 18, 2011 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The introspective aged
Recommended to Nate D by: the stickiness beneath the leaf-cover
Six characters, seeming aspects of a single bizarre lyrical voice delivered as if under hypnosis, withholding nothing and brushing each vision with uncanny light -- six character tell their life stories while the eternal English landscape looks on.

Now glancing this side, that side, they looked deeper, beneath the flowers, down the dark avenues into the unlit world where the leaf rots and the flower has fallen. Then one of them, beautifully darting, accurately alighting, spiked the soft , monstro
Plot, character development and interaction expressed solely through inner monologue. Virginia creates a new style of novel here, too unique to ever be recreated. Thought provoking. Iridescent. Brilliant.
Read purely for pleasure and not for review. The perfect mix of poetical prose and one of my favorite books. I will read this book over, and over, and over again
I did not like this at all. I decided to dump it after struggling through four of the nine hour audiobook narrated by Francis Jeater. The narration was fine; it was the lines of the book that disappointed.

I have read other books by Virginia Woolf and enjoyed them.

In this book I felt nothing for any of the characters. As in the other novels the reader is in the heads of the various characters. Here there are numerous characters and it is extremely difficult to keep track of whose thoughts you ar
Poetry in prose.
Woolf writes without rules, no punctuation, no paragraphs, pure sensations, disarrayed and irrational thoughts, explosion of feelings.
We see life through the eyes of six characters, three men and three women, each one strikingly different from the other but close friends and lovers, from childhood to old age.

Early innocence, pure thoughts, playful games become more and more complicated when the characters grow up. It was devastating to witness how everyday life could break the ch
May 10, 2007 Steven rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This feels as if Woolf were weighing the standards by which people live: The archetype for the socialite, the academic, the rustic, the consummate businessman, the dreamer, and the everyman...She holds up what each one identifies as worthwhile in life against the convictions of his/her friends, who have all pursued wildly divergent paths.

It's absolutely stunning, and something I reread every year.
ما أعجب أن نشعر بأن الخيط الذي نقوم بغزله تطول أتياله الرقيقة عبر الساحات المعتمة للعالم المتشابك.*
فيرجينا وولف

هذه الرواية أقرب إلى القصيدة الشعرية رغم أنها ليست شعراً، فالشخوص فيها وهم ستّة يتحدثون إليكَ كمن يتحدث إلى نفسه، إنه كما لو أنهم كانوا شخصاً واحداً استيقظ ذات صباح فوجد نفسه في ستة أشخاص، كيف لنفسه الواحدة أن تنفصل عن نفسها، مرة وثانية وثالثة ...؟ كيف يمكن لكل شيء في داخله أن ينقسم ويتكرر مرات لا تحصى، كيف لإحساساته أن تتكرر وتتجدد مع كل دائرة ضوء، وثم تعيد نفسها في الظلّ، لم يكن أحد ل
I am spellbound by Woolf's powers of description; she lays out a feast of adjectives and metaphors, weaving a shimmering tapestry of words, here forming a continuous surface without break of tone. Exposition is forbidden to intrude on the musical flow of language and the 'six sided' inner voice carrying the narrative is only interrupted by the simple frame device of a passing day on a deserted beach

The gift Woolf displays here is for putting sensations, the delights and torments of being alive,
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
I was required to read a portion of this book for a class I'm taking. We only had to read about a third of it, and after that I didn't feel very compelled to finish it. This is partly because I'm trying to read too many other things right now, but ... this book also just wasn't really holding my interest. The style of it is intriguing; it's written as "dialogue" but the characters are not really speaking as much as they are describing their streams of consciousness. It's hard to describe and kin ...more
Eric Phetteplace
I knew Woolf had written some experimental stuff and this book was amazing. It's all narrative, but inside quotes and voiced by the characters. Very dreamy and elegant diction, surreal in that it's young kids making grand pronouncements that they couldn't possibly be capable of thinking. It's nice to read a book that goes out and defines its own style and really does something with it. Best thing I've read since Infinite Jest.
If it were possible to make love to a book, this one would be getting some sweet sweet lovin.
As usual, I'm rather at a loss for words with yet another breathtaking Woolf novel; as Bernard (of the novel) might remark, "I need a little language such as lovers use, words of one syllable such as children speak...I need a howl; a cry." Nothing else will suffice.

I'm likewise hesitant because I feel I've already done the novel a disservice in the reading of it, for a number of reasons. The prose is quite a bit like poetry & truly will wash over like waves if you allow it. Sometimes, this i
Mar 24, 2008 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poetry fans and people who like books that push genre boundaries
I’d recommend The Waves to poetry fans and to people who like books that push genre boundaries.

The lives of six friends are told through soliloquies by each of the characters. My initial reaction was to think of some “performance artists,” 6 people dressed in black telling monologues, a spotlight shining on each in turn. This took some getting used to in the first chapter. Wouldn’t the story be better served by some good old-fashioned dialogue? I asked myself. Then I thought, what with blogs and
This is such a confusing book, if you try and follow the plot exactly. Never mind what happens or doesn't happen, reading The Waves is like being underwater and glimpsing large shapes moving in the murky depths, and seeing wobbly shapes in the sky up through the water, and surfacing for brief moments in brilliant sunshine with salt spray splashing you in the eyes and a glittering city spread out in the near distance, before you're plunged bracingly into an icy pool or quietly re-embraced by the ...more
Francesco Fantuzzi
Ammirevole e incantevole. La maestria della Woolf lascia sinceramente stupefatti. La soddisfazione più grande? Lasciarsi cullare, abbandonandosi alle esistenze delle voci narranti, perdendosi e ritrovandosi nel flusso della coscienza, seguendo il movimento naturale delle onde nella poeticissima prosa dell'autrice.

P.S.: mai mi era successo di sottolineare, scrivere, prendere appunti in misura così abbondante durante la lettura di un testo letterario.
Chance Maree
Reading The Waves is like dreaming you are a telepath on a beach where families vacation. You start with a group of children, listening to their internal dialogue and remembering schooldays, teachers, crushes, play time. And then you move to high schoolers, and on to young adults. You hear of first jobs, marriages, and on. Now in your dream, your subjects are quite poetic, all, and it doesn't matter that you keep their personalities separated in your mind because their voices are all one, really ...more
Ben Loory
made me want to be back in college so i could write a paper about woolf and tennyson. i heard echoes of his voice the entire time, and kept thinking about these lines from "ulysses":

The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices.

of course tennyson's got that whole "rousing the men to fight" thing going on, which woolf doesn't... until there in the last paragraph...

"What enemy do I now perceive advancing against us, you whom I ride now, as we stand pawing this str
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The book you can't finish? 14 153 Nov 11, 2014 07:46AM  
Short & Sweet...: The Waves 24 57 Apr 28, 2014 05:09PM  
Chicks On Lit: The Waves - February Group Read 162 76 Feb 23, 2014 08:12AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Request for page numbers / cover image 2 156 Jun 13, 2013 01:16PM  
Brain Pain: * Questions, Resources and General Banter - The Waves 89 166 Feb 27, 2013 07:08PM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week One - The Waves - Section 1 & 2 201 152 Feb 20, 2012 09:36AM  
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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 about Virginia Woolf...
Mrs. Dalloway To the Lighthouse A Room of One's Own Orlando Night and Day

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“There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, 'Consume me'.” 721 likes
“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” 307 likes
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