Erik's Reviews > To the Lighthouse
To the Lighthouse
by Virginia Woolf
by Virginia Woolf
Mar 30, 12
E.M. Forster (if I remember correctly) once referred to this book as a "novel in sonata form." While the idea of literary works being based upon or compared to musical compositions is nothing new, Forster's (?) remark appears a bit superficial when applied here. The novel's division into three distinct sections (or "movements") does seem to mirror the basic structure of a typical Classical-era sonata, but the mood and tempo of each do not vary considerably as they would in such a musical work – this is very much a "minor key", adagio-paced book from beginning to end, brimming with melancholy and wistful yet fervent introspection, slowly and methodically unraveling the contents of its characters' minds and hearts (their secrets, their yearnings, their regrets) before the reader's gaze. And while Woolf develops and intertwines her themes as skillfully as, say, Beethoven did his own, the gravitas, playfulness and pathos that emanate from the latter's sonatas are found on a more enigmatic and subtle scale within this sublime novel of the former. There is humor, and heartbreak, and "action," but everything simmers beneath the surface of the Ramsay family's ostensibly ordinary existence, wherein so many important things go unsaid or unaddressed externally, and yet Woolf, with her impressive insight into child/parent, husband/wife, sibling/sibling, time/memory, mankind/nature, perception/reality, art/life relationships, gives us the opportunity to truly enter, identify and feel every moment, detail and emotion she presents – all with the clarity and honesty of a genuine master. Stunningly poetic and effortlessly profound, this is a work that no serious reader will want to miss.
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