Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

To the Lighthouse

Rate this book
The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf constructs a remarkable, moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflict between men and women.

As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and its greatest triumph—the human capacity for change.

209 pages, Paperback

First published May 5, 1927

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Virginia Woolf

1,186 books23k followers
(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 essay A Room of One's Own (1929) with its famous dictum, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
56,122 (32%)
4 stars
55,873 (32%)
3 stars
40,119 (23%)
2 stars
15,143 (8%)
1 star
6,931 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,157 reviews
Profile Image for Stephen M.
137 reviews622 followers
September 25, 2012
I’ve never dwelt over a set of 200 bound pages with as much joy and relish as I have with To the Lighthouse. I can say without reservation, that this is some of the most incredible writing I’ve ever come across and I’m absolutely baffled as to how Woolf pulled it off. So much of the prose was redolent of an abstract surrealist film, such were the clarity and preciseness of its images. At a certain point Woolf describes an idea entering a character’s mind as a drop of ink diffusing in a beaker of water. I left several exclamation points and expressions of pure joy among the marginalia of my copy. I have never experienced such a strange brew of images and ideas that whirl around mere words of a novel, all of which has incited such excitement in me, as if some beautiful and aching aspect of human experience has been solidified on paper that will never be as perfect as it is here.

This book bounces back and forth between philosophy, psychology and fictionalized story telling in such an interweaving of narrative and personal reflection that it may be difficult to discern who is thinking what and which thoughts are the result of whom. This is especially predominant in the opening section, when Woolf just shoves you into the churning waters of her prose and doesn’t throw you a life raft until 45 pages in. The is intentional however, because the book is preoccupied with consciousness at its most mercurial. If at any time, the prose is lucid and clear, it is sure to take a turn for the chaotic within a few pages. There is so much attention given to each individual’s neuroses and preoccupations that they are often magnified beyond your typical day to day worries. The sights are bright and irritating; the sounds are cacophonous; and the emotional cues between each character, the ones that are often subtle and implicit in everyday interaction, are rendered as if each character holds equal parts pure malice and enthralling love that threatens to burst open at any second. I thought about highly sensitive people; I thought of those with autism that experience overwhelming intensity from their sensual perception. I thought of all of those that are under bombardment from the outer world, tingling in its euphoric highs and devastating lows. For some, it may seem as though Woolf overly dramatizes experience, but what she really does is puts her character through life at its most intense and acute. The lives of the characters are so rich in emotion that dipping into their world, for mere pages at a time, is like taking a giant bump of the pure stuff, getting tweaked on all the unbelievable wonder that is conscious experience. I thought of Jeff Mangum’s infamous lyric, how strange it is to be anything at all.

I was fortunate enough to have already read The Waves—a book quite similar in its themes and images—in a classroom setting with a brilliant professor. It allowed me a way into Lighthouse that I might not have had otherwise. If it wasn’t for this frame of reading, I may have been a little too overwhelmed by the non-stop poetic bombardment. So, I will say that my previous experience with Woolf helped tremendously. I have no doubt that anyone who would pick up this book would be blown away by it, but without certain perquisites, it could be a book to throw across the room out of bewilderment. It can be tough. It can be verbose. But it is undoubtably one of the best books I’ve read this year.

During her time as a writer, Woolf was quite invested in the scientific theories of her day. There are, apparently, a lot of her own personal writing that spoke highly of her research into the area and all of the scientific advances being made at the turn of the century, a time heralded by the legendary Charles Darwin. Woolf’s focus wasn’t necessarily on natural selection—although its influence is present—but on the theories and writings surrounding thermodynamics. Although I’m woefully unqualified to talk about the finer points of thermodynamics, what’s important for reading Woolf, is the idea of the conservation of energy, moreover, the fact that matter is never lost. It is continually recycled and that all of our world is a constant fluctuation of heat and matter, moving in and out of different systems—including that oh so special system called human beings.

Although, ostensibly our experience of the world tells us that we are one solidified unit of matter, always held together in the perfected feeling of selfness and oneness that is our day to day life, the truth couldn’t be any further from that. Woolf seemed particularly haunted by the idea that what seemed to be a solidified conscious experience was actually a continual fluctuation of matter, on a physical level, and the consequential thoughts, worries and sensual bombardment, on the experiential level. These new ideas destabilized previous notions about our awareness of the world as the absolute avenue to truth and the reality of this world. Thus, it is in this tension that the characters of To the Lighthouse find themselves in. They are obsessed with creating still images out of the cacophony of a thermodynamic universe, trying to cling to old notions of a person still being that solidified center of the world. A character will revel in the beauty and wonderment of a single moment, only to have it slip away from them and be washed away in the tumultuous seas of conscious experience. Although our minds create perfected still images out of the constant transformation of matter around, these still images skip away into the past before they can be fully grasped, fully made whole: “With her foot on the threshold she waited a moment longer in a scene which was vanishing even as she looked, and then, as she moved and took Minta’s arm and left the room, it changed, shaped itself differently; it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past”

But more than any lofty philosophical or scientific conceits, this book is achingly beautiful. Never for a moment does the specifics of the scientific theory engulf the work. Instead it remains above the surface, leaving its impact upon you emotionally. The book is wrought with beautiful feeling and what could possibly make this better than the work of Joyce, for example is that it never leaves one with a cold intellectual shoulder or the folded-arm distance of an extravagant feat of technical writing skill. Woolf goes for the gut.

And even if you are completed uninterested in the finer points of Woolf’s overall conceit, you can still appreciate the beauty of the titular image—the lighthouse. I was particularly moved by all of Woolf’s images of water as a stand in for conscious experience in all its tumultuous churning; and the fact that a lighthouse is the tall solidified object which brings ships lost at sea back to solid ground; and the fact that this lighthouse is what the characters hang all their hopes and desires upon; and the fact that we, the reader, must sail through all that thick prose to get to the promised reward at the end,

The lighthouse, for there it was.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,101 reviews7,200 followers
March 27, 2021
I think this book is Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece, not The Waves as some critics say. What is it about? It’s about life. The first half is about two days of life; the second half, set ten years later, is largely about death. In the Intro by Eudora Welty she says that in the novel “reality looms” but “Love indeed pervades the whole novel.”

The lighthouse of the book is Godrevy near St. Ives in Cornwall (where the author actually summered). The main character is a beautiful woman “in full,” her eight children and husband and guests gathered around her at a summer vacation cottage. Fourteen people in all at dinner, one a scholar friend of her husband who is in love with her, plus cook and maids.

At the dinner she worries “Nothing seems to have merged. They all sat separate. And the whole of the effort of merging and flowing and creating rested on her.”

She’s hosts a successful dinner despite numerous minor aggravations and interruptions by the cooks and problem with the food. The meal is her masterpiece, the epitome of her happiness. She delights in matchmaking.

Her husband, an academic, is withdrawn, conceited, stingy, in his praise of the children. He holds it over their heads about how the weather will be bad so they won’t be able to take a boat trip to the lighthouse. He’s more concerned with how the future will view his academic work than he is with the present. Yet, with everyone else to take it out on, he seems happier than his wife: “Less exposed to human worries…He always had his work to fall back on.”


Some passages I liked:

At the dinner a young woman learns about her ‘golden haze.’ “Sometimes she had it; sometimes not. She never knew why it came or why it went, or if she had it until she came into the room and then she knew instantly by the way some man looked at her.”

“What was the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come.”

“ - no she thought, one could say nothing to nobody. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object too low.”


There is an ungainly female friend who paints. She smarts from a remark by a male friend: “Women can’t write, women can’t paint…” After several repetitions of this in her mind in the book, by the end of the novel she is adding “…not so much that he believed it, as that for some odd reason he wished it?”

What author ever asked this question (below) before?

“How then did it work out, all of this? How did one judge people, think of them? How did one add up this and that and conclude that it was liking one felt, or disliking? And to those words, what meaning attached, after all?”

A beautiful classic, of course. I read this years ago when I was too young to appreciate it. I’m adding it to my favorites.

top photo: Godrevy lighthouse; view from St. Ives, Cornwall, from geograph.org.uk.
bottom: Talland House, St. Ives, Woolf's vacation home as a child, from Wikipedia
Profile Image for Adina .
891 reviews3,543 followers
December 25, 2021
3rd Prize. Favourite Books read in 2021

The Idiot’s Guide to reading Virginia Woolf To The Lighthouse or I am not that smart to write a serious review.

If you would answer with „Me” at the famous question „Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?” than this short guide is for you. Here are my steps to finally conquer one of the most celebrated and feared authors of the English canon.

Step 1. Choose one of her novels and start reading. No procrastination for years and years. I added To The Lighthouse to my shelves in 2014 and I could not gathered the courage to start the novel until now. What changed? A discussion about her genius on Zoom.

Step 2. Do not fall asleep and carry on even if after the first 25 pages or so you have no idea what the plot is about and who is talking.

Step 3: Read the synopsis first. It helps knowing who are the characters and what (little) happens to whom. The stream of consciousness type of writing jumps from one character to the other and back to an omniscient narrator with no warning. A bit of reading about the themes also helps. Nothing happens and everything happens. It is a novel about suppressed feelings, about women’s condition, about life, death and much more. It is a book about the subtleties of life, about what is not said but felt.

Step 4: Listened to the book if you can/ like. Juliet Stevenson has the perfect voice and pacing. She saved me with Madam Bovary a few months ago so I already knew her narration will be perfect.

Step 5 and the most important one. Let it Go as the famous song says. You might keep asking yourself, as all the characters of the novel do, „What it all means”. Don’t. Just let the writing flow, envelope your senses and seduce you. Let go of the need for control and to be able to understand everything. I understood more and followed better when I stopped fighting.

The novel was beautiful, I can’t find the words to explain why. I am truly happy I can now say that I am not longer afraid of Virginia Woolf.

“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,217 reviews9,908 followers
August 13, 2016
It's a problem, dear Virginia
They like stuff that's much more linear,
I know your teeth you will grit
But you have to admit
You may be hot but there's not
a lot of plot that you got
Five pages about rain on a distant steeple
Is five too many for most of the British people
They moan about Mrs Dalloway
In such a very callow way
Instead of your Orlando
They prefer something more blando
They'd rather go to raves
Than have to read The Waves
And no one's read The Years
In years and years and years
Well - i know it's prostitution
But here is my solution
Because the horror being unread
Is worse than being undead
If a Ramsay had gone to the lighthouse
To have a bit of sex
Or if one of the younger striplings
Had had some rippling pecs
On which you used your vocabulary
And got a visit from the constabulary
And was found to be obscene and demented
And they found out what the lighthouse… represented
Well, then you would not now languish
In postmorten anguish
And though you'd never have a prayer
Of outselling Stephanie Meyer
Still your books would be devoured
Delightfully deflowered
And though never to be milf
Woolf would become wilf
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
965 reviews6,846 followers
September 26, 2023
The lighthouse is out there, it's eye caressing our struggles with cold indifference. We can beat against the tides in pursuit, but will we ever reach it? Does it even matter, and is it even attainable? If we only look to that spot on the horizon we miss the love around us, miss those gasping for our love and friendship, miss the callouses born in dedicated strife rowing us towards the end. Like in all things, it is the journey that matters, not the destination. Futility can be beautiful, especially when we don't give up on plunging our oars against it and making our place in a world destined to end in a .... flash.....

…for it was not knowledge but unity that she desired, not inscriptions on tablets, nothing that could be written in any language known to men, but intimacy itself, which is knowledge…

To enter within the pages of Woolf’s 1927 masterpiece, To the Lighthouse, is to dive headlong into a maelstrom of vivid perspectives and flawless prose. Few authors are able to achieve the vast scope of human emotions and frustrations as of this novel, let alone accomplish such a task in the mere 209pgs Woolf offers. Flowing to the breezy soundtrack of waves breaking upon the shoreline, To the Lighthouse investigates the frailties of life and human relationships in breathtaking prose through the minds and hearts of Woolf’s characters as they struggle to affect a state of permanence within an ever-changing ephemeral existence.

Reading Woolf is like reading an extended prose poem. Each word shimmers from the page as every sentence illuminates the deep caverns of the heart. She accentuates her themes through carefully chosen imagery and metaphors, or constantly alluding to the passage of time themes through metaphors of fraying draperies and aging furniture and keeping the focus on the island setting through descriptions such as ‘bitter waves of despair’. The notion of each person as an island plays a major role in the novel. The waves continuously crash on shore much like the collision of characters as they interact and attempt to understand one another. These repetitions of ideas and symbols are used through this novel as a method of reinforcing them. Similarly, the characters often repeat their own beliefs, much like a mantra, to help reassure themselves of who they are.

Woolf effectively utilizes her own stream-of-consciousness style to tell her story, examining each characters unique perspectives and feelings of one another that culminate to form a tragically beautiful portrait of the human condition. Unlike the stream-of-consciousness technique employed by others such as James Joyce or William Faulkner, Woolf retains a consistence prose style, being more an observer of the inner-workings of each character instead of melding with their consciousness and writing in their own words. While this may seem a cop-out to some, it felt actually beneficial to the structure of this novel, such as allowing Woolf to seamlessly transition from character to character. This also was in keeping with the ‘person as an island’ theme since we could only observe through an authorial perspective and never truly know commune with the character, leaving the reader as just another wave crashing upon the shoreline of their consciousness. Late in the novel, Lily ponders over the power of narrating what one thinks a person is like as a method of understanding them: ‘this making up scenes about them, is what we call “knowing” people, “thinking” of them, “being fond” of them!’ There are several metafictional moments such as this within the novel that justify Woolf’s stylistic choices. Woolf’s decision to maintain a constant narration makes the book ‘about’ perspectives instead of ‘constructed out of’ perspectives.

Human interaction is the crux of this novel, and also one of its saddest messages. These characters interact daily and are under the constant scrutiny of one another, yet, try as they might, they can never truly understand each other. ‘She would never know him. He would never know her. Human relations were all like that, she thought, and the worst were between men and women’. They all try to leave their impressions upon one another but, at the end of the day, are still only left with their perspective and opinion of the others instead of the unity and knowledge of who their contemporaries truly are inside and what motivates their actions. They are forever separated by the fact that souls cannot ever meld and become one. The real tragedy is that these characters, while desiring to understand and be understood, more often than not hurt one another, often due to fear and insecurity, through their attempts of reaching into the others soul. Mr. Ramsey, while being exceptionally needy of praise and security, keeps his family at arms length through his neediness while resenting them and wishing they would leave him be: ‘he would have written better books if he had not married’.

These characters reach out to one another as if to a life raft, they need something to cling to and bind them with the present. Each character in their own way, be it Mr. Ramsey’s philosophy, Mr. Carmichael’s poetry, Lily’s paintings or Mrs. Ramsey’s guiding hand, attempt to leave their permanent scar on the face of eternity. Mrs. Ramsey in particular fears death and the unstoppable change that pushes us forward towards the grave. ‘A scene that was vanishing even as she looked…it shaped itself differently; it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past’. She watches in horror as time slips by, firmly believing nothing good can come with the future and goes so far as to cover up Deaths bleak head in the form of a boars skull that hangs on her children’s walls. ‘With her mind she had already seized the fact that there is no reason, order, justice but suffering, death, the poor. There was no treachery too base fir the world to commit… No happiness lasted’. No matter what, time will pass us all by, like the lighthouse beam, illuminating us and calling us up from the dark for one brief moment, and then passing on again to leave us formless in the dark. If is fitting, given the fears of death and time passing, that death comes in this novel swiftly and suddenly. There is no telling when the beam of life will be gone, no preparations can be made, and we must deal with it. Such is existence. These fears can only be subsided, our lives given meaning, if we can reach each other, understand and love each other, thereby existing forever in memory and framed by love in the hearts of those we knew.

This novel takes much inspiration from Woolf’s own life (Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey being based on Virginia’s own parents, making this an elegy to her own mother as well as an elegy to Mrs. R) and doubly serves as a cutting commentary on the literary world in which Woolf was immersed. Woolf set out to oppose the obdurate male society that dominated the literary scene, Tansley’s words to Lily of ‘women can’t paint, women can’t write’ echoing a stereotype that Woolf would have had to combat her whole life. Woolf combats the patriarchy through this novel, creating a sleek, short masterpiece as opposed to the behemoth (but equally amazing) Ulysses, filled with attacks on the ‘masculine intelligence’ and making parody of the male opinions on women. Often the reader is given the opinion though a male perspective that ‘women made civilization impossible with all their “charm”, all their “silliness”…’, yet these same men crave the attention and affection of Mrs. Ramsey – they fly into an anxious fit without the reassurance of the women. They spend their time thinking lofty thoughts, but it is the women that keep order. Mrs. Ramsey despises such masculine activities as hunting and is the head of the household and the keeper of peace, yet she still reads as a bit of a cautionary tale. She still succumbs to the gender roles expected of her, such as being submissive to Mr. Ramsey and playing matchmaker – although this serves more as her attempt to maintain control over life than actually falling into stereotypes. Lily is therefor given as the ideal, the one who can press on despite naysayers like Tansley, be a self-sustaining, ambitious woman that keeps an understanding and open heart and painting those around her into eternity through her perseverance.

This was without a doubt one of the finest novels I have ever read. Woolf offers pages after page of incredible poetry, never letting up for an instant. It takes a bit to get your footing, as she drops the reader right into the scene without any exposition, but once you have found your bearings your heart will swell with each flawless word. The middle section of the novel, the brief 20pgs of ‘Time Passes’, may be one of the most enduring and extraordinary displays of writing I have ever seen. This novel will force the reader to face the bleak truths of change and death along with the characters, yet offer a glimmer of hope through unity and love that is sure to strike a chord in even the coldest of hearts, all the while being a stunning anthem of feminism. This is a novel to read, and read again and again as you witness your own present and future fade into the past.


Of such moments, she thought, the thing is made that endures

This novel came highly recommended to me through two trusted friends, whose reviews I would like to share with you here and here.
But don’t just take our word for it, because this is one that should not be missed!
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,465 reviews3,630 followers
August 6, 2022
There are two bright autumnal days… And thousands of dark nights in between… Two days in life…
The insincerity slipping in among the truths roused her, annoyed her. She returned to her knitting again. How could any Lord have made this world? she asked. With her mind she had always seized the fact that there is no reason, order, justice: but suffering, death, the poor. There was no treachery too base for the world to commit; she knew that. No happiness lasted; she knew that.

To the Lighthouse is a story about futility…
At the far end, was her husband, sitting down, all in a heap, frowning. What at? She did not know. She did not mind. She could not understand how she had ever felt any emotion or any affection for him. She had a sense of being past everything, through everything, out of everything, as she helped the soup, as if there was an eddy – there – and one could be in it, or one could be out of it, and she was out of it. It’s all come to an end, she thought…

To the Lighthouse is a book about demolishing properties of time…
And Shakespeare’s sonnet, cited in the novel, may serve as a kind of key to the entire idea of the story:
“Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose:
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.”

While living we just play with shadows… And the play of shadows is all around…
What is the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other…

The living is hard, darkness falls but straight ahead there is a lighthouse and it keeps beckoning.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,116 followers
May 17, 2018
I’m sorry...I just don’t get it?
This book has numerous five star reviews, and while I understand it isn’t plot driven, the characters are so vague? They all kind of blur together so I never really knew who was speaking/thinking and when. So many thoughts flying around and I just didn’t see the point in them.
I guess I just don’t have the mind required to appreciate whatever it is I am supposed to appreciate in this book.
If someone would like to tell me what it is I missed that would be helpful, because I am just lost.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,991 followers
February 11, 2020
1 to 1.5 stars

I had to go look at some other reviews before I wrote this. I can honestly say that I am shocked to see so many 4 and 5 star reviews. That does not mean I think those reviews are incorrect, I am just surprised at how many people connected with this book in a very positive way. I will hang out in the cellar of the 1 and 2 star reviews, because in this case, those are my people!

I always want to try new and interesting books from a variety of genres. Sometimes I find some big, positive surprises, other times I find books I struggle to finish. In this case, it was a struggle. I read this book as part of my Completist Book Club as this book is featured on Time’s All Time Best 100 Novels list. And, since I am seeing lots of passionate 5-star reviews, many agree with this assessment for To The Lighthouse. And, with that in mind, if you have a passion for the classic must-reads you may enjoy this one. However, I enjoy many, many, classic must-reads so that may not be the best criteria to use.

Within minutes of starting this book, I was confused. I reread the beginning a few times and it still was not clicking. Over the course of the book, I reread several sections to try and connect to the writing and pull something from the story. I also read an online summary of every chapter TWICE! Often, after reading a summary section, I would say to myself “Did I really just read and reread sections of this book!? Nothing in that summary sounded familiar!” And, when I got to the end of the summary I figured it would clarify for me the whole point, but it really didn’t. I know the book is about life, death, and relationships and I get the impression it is somewhat dark. But, after all that, I think I would have taken more away from it all, but I’ve got nothing.

I will say that the one silver lining about it that kept me interested in it is that one of the main characters is named Minta. I have a friend with the same name and always thought it was an unusual name that her parents made up. But, when I asked her, not only did her parents not make up the name, they didn’t get it from this book, either! So, just hearing her name frequently as the book went along kept me somewhat engaged.

So, yeah . . . this book is a BIG no for me. It is very obviously a masterpiece for some, and maybe it will be for you. But after the effort I put into it and still feeling nothing but nothing, I cannot join the masterpiece crowd.

And . . . I guess I’m afraid of Virginia Woolf!
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
May 2, 2020
When I first read this novel, I was like young James Ramsay, eagerly hoping to get To The Lighthouse.

Grown-ups, literary experts that is, had sent just as mixed messages as Mr and Mrs Ramsay to me, and I hoped so much for the adventure of an iconic reading experience that it didn't happen. I could acknowledge all the rational reasons for calling it a masterpiece, but it did not cause me to even raise an eyebrow. I was a modern young woman, what did I have to do with the subtext of a patriarchal family structure? What did I have to do with the self-doubt of a female artist told by an idiot that women can't write, can't paint... Why would such a thing even stick in my head? It didn't. Not back then.

And then time passed.

Life happened. I learned about families. About attention-seeking egos who dominate an environment so totally that any creative act stops automatically. I learned about the disruption that is a mother's natural state of being. How can anyone paint or write if there are no two consecutive moments without interruption?

I learned to long for the lighthouse without knowing it.

And then, I had another go at reading it, quite by accident, because I had spare time in a boring place and a copy of the book happened to be on the table.

It hit me like the flash of a lightning.

This is a novel that you have to grow into, but when you do, it shines brightly in the dark waters and soothes the nerves of a grown-up woman who has unfortunately learned what it means to hear the echo "can't write, can't paint", who has learned to feel the presence of patriarchal attention and who has learned to know its effect on the surrounding.

It soothes the nerves of a woman who feels the pressure to "be nice"...

Powerful Lily Briscoe sums it up in the end:

"His immense self-pity, his demand for sympathy poured and spread itself in pools at their feet, and all she did, miserable sinner that she was, was to draw her skirts a little closer round her ankles, lest she should get wet."

It's about focusing on moving the tree to the middle of the painting. It's about creating one's own life regardless of whether it ends up not being important to anyone but oneself. It's about daring not to "be nice".

It's not about reaching the Lighthouse. It's about allowing oneself to see it shine in the distance.
Profile Image for Kenny.
507 reviews937 followers
May 3, 2022
“He smiled the most exquisite smile, veiled by memory, tinged by dreams.”
To The Lighthouse ~~ Virginia Woolf


To The Lighthouse was my first exposure to Virginia Woolf. I was working on a production of Edward Albee's Whose Afraid Of Virginia Woolf & I thought I should read something by Woolf. For no particular reason I chose To The Lighthouse. I remember enjoying it, being fascinated by it, but not really understanding what I'd read.

How could I have missed the brilliance and artistry of To The Lighthouse on my first read? How could I have been so blind? Sadly, I could not see how Woolf shows us that time changes everything ~~ and more importantly ~~ changes nothing. I had read Dickens, Twain, the Brontes, Austen, Porter, Dostoyevsky, & reveled in their insights on the human condition. Why then was I so blind to what Woolf had to offer? As I look back on this first reading, I was probably too young & obviously too stupid to comprehend To The Lighthouse.

Years later I became a huge fan of Woolf. In fact, I've been on Woolf binge the last two years, but never found my way back to To The Lighthouse.

Fast forward to 2019. My friend, Srđan, was reading To The Lighthouse; his excitement was contagious, so I decided to revisit To The Lighthouse. I'm so glad I did. Revisiting this book was a revelation.


"She had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over at the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!"
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


What words would best describe To The Lighthouse ~~ exquisite, impressionistic, simple and most of all luminous. The prose cradles and rocks the reader just like the sea that surrounds the Ramsay family.

Woolf saw To The Lighthouse as a requiem to her parents, and her childhood. The themes here are marriage, childhood, parentage, reminiscence and grief ~~ all themes familiar to Woolf.

To The Lighthouse is a portrait of a family's holiday in the years before and after World War I. Mrs. Ramsay is at the center of this world ~~ a wife, mother to eight children, the hostess to the guests who fill the holiday home in the Hebrides ~~ where an expedition to the lighthouse may or may not happen. Mrs. Ramsay's spirit permeates every page of To The Lighthouse ~~ no easy feat considering the events that take place.

Again, Woolf uses her stream of consciousness and multiple perspectives technique. This allows the reader a feeling of living in the pages of To The Lighthouse, creating a very intimate experience for the reader.

To The Lighthouse is divided into three sections, The Window, Time Passes, and The Lighthouse. The first section portrays the tensions of her family's holiday ~~ the Ramsays have been joined by a group of friends and colleagues. A planned journey to the fabled lighthouse lies at the center of section one.

We also meet painter Lily Briscoe early in the first section. She is attempting to paint a picture of Mrs Ramsay and James, but she is unsure of herself as an artist, her confidence is shaken by Charles Tansley as he declares that women cannot write and cannot paint. Lily ~~ or should we say Virginia ~~ will hear this thought echoing in her mind throughout the rest of her life.


The second section To The Lighthouse is brilliant. Time indeed does pass ~~ things have changed. We learn what has happened to the Ramsay family over the past 10 years. The house stands empty, abandoned by the family these past 10 years for reasons you must discover on your own. What fascinates me most about Time Passes is how the house becomes a character in its own right ~~ the house is a living thing.

In the final section of To The Lighthouse, members of the Ramsay family and their guests from ten years earlier return to the house ~~ another trip to the lighthouse is proposed. We see the changes ~~ and more importantly the lack of change ~~ that has taken place in the Ramsay family. It is a fascinating view of both the Ramsay family and Lily Briscoe.

I find my review to be wanting. This review ~~ none of our reviews ~~ can sum up what an extraordinary experience reading To The Lighthouse is.

To The Lighthouse is a captivating, fascinating, thought-provoking novel that sparks endless introspection and reflection with its many intriguing themes. Thank you Srđan for helping me to rediscover such a brilliant piece of writing.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews34 followers
September 13, 2021
(Book 686 from 1001 books) - To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse is a 1927 novel by Virginia Woolf. The novel centres on the Ramsays and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920.

Part I: The Window, The novel is set in the Ramsays' summer home in the Hebrides, on the Isle of Skye. The section begins with Mrs Ramsay assuring her son James that they should be able to visit the lighthouse on the next day. This prediction is denied by Mr Ramsay, who voices his certainty that the weather will not be clear, an opinion that forces a certain tension between Mr and Mrs Ramsay, and also between Mr Ramsay and James. This particular incident is referred to on various occasions throughout the section, especially in the context of Mr and Mrs Ramsay's relationship. ...

Part II: Time Passes, The second section "Time passes" gives a sense of time passing, absence, and death. Ten years pass, during which the First World War begins and ends. Mrs Ramsay dies, as do two of her children – Prue dies from complications of childbirth, and Andrew is killed in the war. Mr Ramsay is left adrift without his wife to praise and comfort him during his bouts of fear and anguish regarding the longevity of his philosophical work. This section is told from an omniscient point of view and occasionally from Mrs. McNab's point of view. Mrs. McNab worked in the Ramsay's house since the beginning, and thus provides a clear view of how things have changed in the time the summer house has been unoccupied.

Part III: The Lighthous, In the final section, "The Lighthouse", some of the remaining Ramsays and other guests return to their summer home ten years after the events of Part I. Mr Ramsay finally plans on taking the long-delayed trip to the lighthouse with daughter Cam(illa) and son James (the remaining Ramsay children are virtually unmentioned in the final section). The trip almost does not happen, as the children are not ready, but they eventually set off. As they travel, the children are silent in protest at their father for forcing them to come along. However, James keeps the sailing boat steady and rather than receiving the harsh words he has come to expect from his father, he hears praise, providing a rare moment of empathy between father and son; Cam's attitude towards her father changes also, from resentment to eventual admiration. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه مارس سال 2004میلادی

عنوان: به سوی فانوس دریایی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ مترجم: صالح حسینی؛ تهران، نیلوفر، 1370؛ در 237ص؛ شابک 9644481992؛ چاپ دوم 1382؛ چاپ سوم 1383؛ چاپ چهارم 1385؛ چاپ پنجم 1387؛ چاپ ششم 1392؛ چاپ هفتم 1395؛ شابک 9789644481994؛
در 240ص؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

عنوان: به سوی فانوس دریایی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ مترجم: سیلویا بجانیان؛ تهران، به نگار، 1370؛ در 358 ص؛

عنوان: به سوی فانوس دریایی؛ نویسنده: ویرجینیا وولف؛ مترجم: خجسته کیهان؛ تهران، نگاه، 1387؛ در 261ص؛ شابک 9789643514648؛ چاپ سوم 1392؛

به‌ سوی فانوس دریایی رمانی است از «ویرجینیا وولف»، که داستان خانواده ی «رمزی»، و دیدار آن‌ها از جزیره «اسکای (آسمان)» در «اسکاتلند»، بین سال‌های 1910میلادی، تا 1920میلادی را، حکایت می‌کند؛ این اثر یکی از موفق‌ترین تجربه‌ های ایشان، در سبک جریان سیال ذهن است؛ داستان از سه بخش تشکیل شده است؛

بخش نخست که بیشترین حجم کتاب را هم در بر می‌گیرد، «پنجره» نام دارد؛ پنجره معانی گوناگونی می‌تواند داشته باشد؛ شاید پنجره‌ ای برای ما برای شناخت قهرمانان داستان، یا شاید هم پنجره‌ ای برای قهرمانان داستان، تا از آن به فانوس دریایی برسند، و شاید خود داستان، که با راوی‌های گوناگونی، و به عبارتی دیگر از پنجره‌ های گوناگون روایت می‌شود، در این بخش، نویسنده ی داستان، یک روز از زندگی خانواده «رمزی» را، همراه با مهمانان آنان، از زبان خودشان روایت می‌کند؛ این روایت راویانی دارد، و همین یکی از برجسته‌ ترین نکات رمان است، که از زبان راوی‌های گوناگون روایت می‌شود؛ زندگی یکایک شخصیت‌های داستان، با تفصیلی باور نکردنی، از زبان خودشان بیان می‌شود؛ زندگی، و بیان همه ی آن‌ها، در خانم «رمزی» به اشتراک می‌رسند؛ که حلقه ی پیوند همه ی قهرمانان داستان است؛

بخش دوم کتاب: «زمان می‌گذرد» نام دارد، روایتی تند، از سرنوشت قهرمانان داستان، طی ده سال آینده است، و اینکه خانم «رمزی» می‌میرد، خانواده ی «رمزی» از هم می‌پاشد، و دیگر رخدادهای کوچک و بزرگی که رخ می‌دهند؛

بخش سوم و پایانی داستان، با عنوان «فانوس دریایی»، برمیگردد به اینکه، در غیاب خانم «رمزی»، قهرمانان داستان، دوباره به خانه ی قدیمی برمیگردند، آقای «رمزی» و پسرهایش به فانوس دریایی می‌روند، «لی لی بریسکو»، نقاشی‌ اش را در حالتی که به شهود رسیده است، کامل می‌کند، و «کارمایکل» به شهرت در شاعری دست می‌یابد؛ همه ی آن‌ها راه خویش را پیدا می‌کنند، و به شناخت می‌رسند؛ در واقع خانم «رمزی» که واسطه ی شناخت آن‌ها، از زندگی بود نیز، به آرزوی خویش می‌رسد

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 27/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 21/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,271 reviews2,444 followers
March 28, 2023
This is one of those rare books that gives you totally different reading experiences when you read it in different phases of your life. Mrs. Ramsay and her family's story is wonderfully depicted through the beauty of surrealism and the depth of philosophy. Only a writer on the top of their craft can create something so magnificent from the simple things in life like a family holiday. The character building, precise perspective-shifting are all done brilliantly. Ms. Woolf's views on men, women, friendship, love, marriage, children, motherhood, and the poetry of life will all make you think deeply about the hidden complexities of this world. Her use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device is impeccable. This book can be incontrovertibly called a true masterpiece.
"She felt... how life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up with it and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach."

You can also follow me on
Instagram ID - Dasfill | YouTube First Channel ID - Dasfill | YouTube Second Channel - Dasfill - Malayalam | Twitter ID - Dasfill1 | Snapchat ID - Dasfill | Facebook ID - Dasfill | TikTok ID - Dasfill1
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.6k followers
January 6, 2023
"What is the meaning of life? That was all - a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one."

sometimes i just want my review of a book to be a quote from that book.

this is one of those times.

this is a slow and beautiful book that forces you to sit with it, and that's a good thing. it deserves to be savored.

imagining skipping over a paragraph like that.

bottom line: well golly.


who's afraid of [reading this book because you feel like you're going to love it and you're not equipped to deal with disappointment]

clear ur sh*t book 42
quest 20: a book with water themes
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
792 reviews
February 6, 2021
How many prejudices we carry through life, even when we think ourselves to be incapable of bias.

I avoided reading Virginia Woolf for a very long time, suspecting her and her privileged Bloomsbury friends of intellectual elitism and of believing themselves to somehow enshrine the essence of civilisation (E M Forster escaped this embargo fortunately).

When I came across Charles Tansley, the visiting working-class academic who can’t seem to fit in to the Ramseys’ elegantly shabby lifestyle in the early pages of To the Lighthouse, I immediately aligned myself with him. I'll be on your side, Charles, I thought, I wouldn't fit in with the Ramseys either.
But soon, like Tansley, I fell under the spell of the beautiful Mrs Ramsey, and under the spell of Woolf’s writing which is so unique and inventive that I am thrilled to have finally discovered it.

I picked this book up because I came across a claim that Woolf, having finished reading Ulysses, felt that she could do better in a quarter the amount of pages. Since I’d recently finished Ulysses myself, I was curious about Woolf’s foolhardy challenge. I expected to find myself reading her characters’ fragmentary thoughts, realistically ordinary or eruditely obscure depending on the mood, just as in Ulysses. But no, Woolf avoids such bold naturalism by paraphrasing her characters’ thoughts into beautifully crafted, ultra refined sentences. This valuing of beauty over truth, form over content certainly makes the reader’s task a lot easier than in Ulysses, if less challenging, and allows the wonderful structure of this novel to stand out more clearly.

There are two distinct sections, both focussed on a trip to the lighthouse and they are separated and connected by a shorter section, a sort of corridor of years, which shows us the disintegration that nature and time work on everything and everyone. I found this symmetrical structure really satisfying, as the two longer sections mirror each other in so many ways and yet are inevitably very different, being separated by time itself.
As regards resemblances to Ulysses, Woolf begins with the word ‘yes’ and ends with ‘yes’ repeated in the last sentences but unlike Joyce, Woolf doesn’t take on a full day, only the final quarter of a day; she addresses the first quarter of a different day in the last section.

While Woolf avoids the challenge of 'stream of consciousness' writing in favour of reporting her character’s thoughts, she knits those thoughts into the action with great skill; the reader quickly adjusts to the style as well as to the frequent time shifts and to the occasional shifts in point of view. And while I value the stark realism which is found at times in Ulysses, there is also a lot of truth knitted into the beautiful shape of Woolf’s novel: there are valuable reflections on the challenges of relationships, particularly those of husbands and wives and parents and children; there are interesting musings on art and literature, poetry and philosophy; and there are very, very beautiful thoughts on death and dying.

This book will stay with me for a long time to come.

Review: August 2012.

Edit: May 2015: extracts I've just come across in A Writer's Diary describing Woolf's thoughts about the writing of 'To The Lighthouse': 1926: This is going to be fairly short; to have father's character done complete in it; and mother's; and St Ives; and childhood; and all the usual things I try to put in--life, death, etc. But the centre is father's character, sitting in a boat, reciting 'We perished, each alone', while he crushes a dying mackerel....The sea is to be heard all through it...But this theme may be sentimental; father and mother and child in the garden; the death; the sail to the Lighthouse. I think though that when I begin it I will enrich it in all sorts of ways; thicken it; give it branches--roots which I do not perceive now. It might contain all characters boiled down; and childhood; and then this impersonal thing, which I'm dared to do by my friends, the flight of time and the consequent break of unity in my design. That passage (I conceive the book in three parts. 1. at the drawing-room window; 2. seven years passed; 3. the voyage) interests me very much....I am now writing as fast and as freely as I have written my whole life..;I think this is the proof that I was on the right path; and that what fruit hangs in my soul is to be reached there....Yesterday I finished the first part and today begin the second. I cannot make it out--here is the most difficult abstract piece of writing--I have to give an empty house, no people's characters, the passage of time, all eyeless and featureless with nothing to cling to; will I rush at it, and at once scatter out two pages...The problem is how to bring Lily and Mr R together and make a combination of interest at the end. I am feathering about with various ideas. The last chapter which I begin tomorrow is in the Boat; I had meant to end with R climbing on to the rock. If so, what becomes of Lily and her picture? Should there be a final page about her and Carmichael looking at the picture and summing up R's character? In this case I lose the intensity of the moment. If this intervenes between R and the lighthouse, there's too much chop and change, I think. Could I do it in a parenthesis? So that on the sense of reading the two things at the same time?...The lyric portions of To the Lighthouse are collected in the 10-year lapse and don't interfere with the text so much as usual; I feel as if it fetched its circle pretty completely this time....And the last lap, in the boat, is hard, because the material is not so rich as it was with Lily on the lawn. I am forced to be more and more intense. I am making more use of symbolism, I observe, and I go in dread of 'sentimentality'. Is the whole theme open to the charge?
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
October 19, 2018
Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse is an innovative piece of writing that left me feeling empty, neither happy nor sad, just blank and detached from the book itself.

Let me explain: for me the writing just didn’t covey anything of much importance. Sure, you could talk about Woolf’s innovative style and how important this book is in the formation of English literature as we know it today; it clearly has impacted the novel as an art form. And it adheres to Woolf’s arguments in her essay titled Modern Fiction. It’s about realism; it’s about capturing a multitude of perspectives and voices regarding the complexities of perception and human experiences. It acts to show how different people think in very different ways. And that’s it.

The plot is unimportant here so I’m not going to talk about that or criticise it. Woolf was purposely trying to break narrative conventions. She didn’t want a plot. She didn’t need one. Though I’m left with a feeling of emptiness after reading it. What do I take away from the book? What’s the overall point of it? Surely there’s more to it than showing that different people think, feel and express themselves in a way specifically personal to them? I’m just left with a puzzling feeling that makes me form a question that lingers over my mind whenever I think about this book: was that really it Woolf, don’t you have a little more to say?

The success of the writing resides with its subtlety. Woolf says so much without saying anything at all. Her characters are revealed through small gestures that reveal their internal world. Simple things like an agreement about the weather bespeaks the love between two characters. Her narration is minimalistic or, I should say, the narrator describes without comment and the rest is up to the reader. And, as ever, she is fantastic at portraying images and moments in time. The scenes she creates are some of the most real and true I’ve ever read.

There are thoughts flying around everywhere. Woolf shifts beautifully from character to character, from voice to voice, as the writing forms a symphony on the mundanity of life. Some of the characters are also quite psychologically complex (Mr Ramsey) and there’s many layers within the story telling that bring the narrative together.

But, again, I’m not entirely sure what to take away from it all. I shall leave things here. I enjoyed it, but I could never love it.
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,221 followers
June 27, 2017
Virginia Woolf here gives us possibly the best ever description of her own writing method, especially fitting for this novel and The Waves – “Beautiful and bright it should be on the surface, feathery and evanescent, one colour melting into another like the colours on a butterfly's wing; but beneath the fabric must be clamped together with bolts of iron. It was to be a thing you could ruffle with your breath; and a thing you could not dislodge with a team of horses.”

Perhaps the first thing to say about To the Lighthouse is what an utterly brilliant depiction it is of a seaside holiday home, especially as experienced through the eyes of a child. It brought vividly to life so many of my own memories of sleeping in a room where the sound of the waves came in through the window at night and sand crunches underfoot everywhere. Every moment in To the Lighthouse is a defining moment, a moment in which identity is forged, memory is made, knowledge is gathered; every moment creates a ghost of itself which will survive the ravages of time. The seaside holiday home is among the most treasured historical sites for the archaeologist in us all, our Mycenae, our Troy, a place from which we can trace the rudiments of identity.

On the surface To the Lighthouse is about two trips to a lighthouse, one aborted, the other realised. In between the first world war happens and we pass from the Victorian age to the Edwardian. Lily Briscoe, a painter, is the novel’s principle touchstone. It’s she who the novel will liberate. Just as The Waves is a wholly original restructuring of the form of biography, To the Lighthouse is a wholly original restructuring of the form of autobiography. Though Virginia is absent in any literal sense from To the Lighthouse she pervades it. Mr and Mrs Ramsey are clearly portraits of her parents – and what fantastic living portraits they are. Lily Briscoe isn’t their daughter in the novel but essentially, through Lily, what we’re reading about is Virginia Woolf’s journey from stifled Victorian young girl to creative Edwardian woman. It’s probably the best book ever about women’s liberation.

A lot has been written about the significance of the Lighthouse. Basically, its light, seen from afar at night, is a magical presence; seen close up in the light of day it is a prosaic thing without wonder. In that sense it’s like Gatsby’s green light. But whereas Fitzgerald chose to depict this light as essentially illusory, albeit with a high inspirational charge, Woolf perhaps sees that light as a representation of those heightened moments of sensibility, or “moments of being” as she called them, when, for a fleeting moment, we carry a candle into the dark and catch sight of a vision informed by understanding, wholeness, an enduring significance.

As a footnote I have to comment on how comically inept the synopsis of this novel is. Lily spends the entire novel trying to work out the truth of who Mr and Mrs Ramsey are. The author of the synopsis has no such difficulty – they’re both nailed down with a two worded epithet - “tragic yet absurd” and “serene and maternal”. We’re then told “As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and its greatest triumph--the human capacity for change.” Mrs Ramsey though is only alive for one day in this novel so I’m not sure how she faces any challenge of change and Mr Ramsey barely changes at all. Lily, the novel’s most important character, doesn’t even get a mention.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
March 7, 2019
i love this book, and someday i should write a thoughtful review of it, but i have just discovered betterbooktitles.com, and this cracked me up:

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Candi.
623 reviews4,715 followers
June 16, 2020
3.5 stars

“She could see it all so clearly, so commandingly, when she looked: it was when she took her brush in hand that the whole thing changed. It was in that moment’s flight between the picture and her canvas that the demons set on her who often brought her to the verge of tears and made this passage from conception to work as dreadful as any down a dark passage for a child.”

The quote above is in reference to Lily Briscoe, one of several guests of the Ramsays during their summer holidays to the Isle of Skye. She has a vision of this place and of the Ramsay family, which she desires to capture on canvas. The painting is left unfinished in the first section of the book, only to be completed on the very last page after the passage of ten years time. I admit it also sums up quite perfectly the feeling I have when reading and reviewing a Woolf piece. I have a complicated relationship with Woolf thus far. I see her vision as if through a fog. I gather up pieces of it in moments of clarity, until all fade once again. Like the Lighthouse that blinks, alternately illuminating and darkening, Woolf’s message comes to me in fragments. Once I have finished one of her novels, the whole is finally made clear, just as Lily’s composition is made complete with that final brushstroke.

“When darkness fell, the stroke of the Lighthouse, which had laid itself with such authority upon the carpet in the darkness, tracing its pattern, came now in the softer light of spring mixed with moonlight gliding gently as if it laid its caress and lingered stealthily and looked and came lovingly again.”

The structure of this book is nothing short of brilliant. That much I can concede. That doesn’t make it an easy read by any means. It requires fierce concentration and a keen awareness as the perspective jumps from one character’s inner life to the next. The first part of the novel is marked by a planned trip to visit the Lighthouse, and whether this adventure will come to pass or not. This is the whole of any sort of plot that exists. The depth of the novel comes from the private thoughts of both the main and secondary characters. How can anyone really grasp what another person feels and thinks? There are misunderstandings and illusions on the surface. We are able to see these things, even if briefly, through Woolf’s lens. Mrs. Ramsay stands at the core of this section. Not only are her introspections revealed to us, we are further offered glimpses of her as seen by the others. We see how the guests view one another, how parents view children and vice versa, and what spouses reveal about their relationships.

“It could not last, she knew, but at the moment her eyes were so clear that they seemed to go round the table unveiling each of these people, and their thoughts and their feelings, without effort like a light stealing under water so that its ripples and the reeds in it and the minnows balancing themselves, and the sudden silent trout are all lit up hanging, trembling.”

The middle section of the book highlights the unrelenting passing of time. Despite the impact these characters have made on us as readers, time will do its dirty business of changing all that we have known. War intrudes, life’s challenges interfere. What remains is a house, the land. Human lives are transitory.

“Nothing, it seemed, could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness which, creeping in at keyholes and crevices, stole round window blinds, came into bedrooms, swallowed up here a jug and basin, there a bowl of red and yellow dahlias, there the sharp edges and firm bulk of a chest of drawers… there was scarcely anything left of body or mind by which one could say, ‘This is he’ or ‘This is she.’”

The last section of the novel sees some characters returning to the house after the war, after ten years have passed. Some have come and gone from this world. Those that remain intend to realize a journey to the Lighthouse that had been previously thwarted. The metaphor of the lighthouse is clearly one that can be mulled over and discussed endlessly it seems. I’m not confident in my ability to convey what the expedition as well as its outcome truly means. Likely, I could give you different answers depending on which character we consider. Is the Lighthouse perhaps a symbol of hope, one that can alternately brighten and then dim without reason? Is the idea of getting there, the actual journey, more important than the end result? Are the moments of illumination the ones we should grasp and hold onto, despite the moments of darkness?

Woolf is indeed challenging for me as a reader. I appreciate the genius and the beauty of her writing, but it’s difficult for me to truly enjoy the experience while I am actually in the moment. It’s the reflection afterwards when the canvas is more fully revealed that I can applaud its significance and value.

“What is the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,255 followers
April 17, 2020
On the quiet pretty isle of Skye in the remote Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland before the carnage of World War One, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay bring their large family, eight children and a few friends for a summer vacation, get away from the turmoil of city living in London. But with 15 at the dinner table , ( not counting the servants) that will be a goal unattainable. Mrs.Ramsay is a beauty, she pretends to ignore that fact still her aging, brilliant, distant philosopher husband does not, is proud... a book writer in metaphysics, (what is reality, unpopular today) constantly wondering if he'll be remembered in the future, the new generation ignores his writings. A mild tyrant at home, his children are afraid of but he is too involved in his work, and mostly neglects them. Mrs. Ramsay is loved by James, Andrew, Jasper, Roger, and Prue, Rose, Nancy, Cam, her sons and daughters. Six -year- old James is very close to his mother, the shy boy hates his father who intimidates him, like his siblings are too, all the boy wants is to go and visit the nearby alluring lighthouse, on a tiny island. The father insists frequently, to the child's great annoyance that bad weather tomorrow for their planned trip, will prevent this. Mrs. Ramsay to soothe the anxious James, unwisely tell him that all will be fine in the morning, naturally a storm arrives and the child is disappointed, his detestation increases against the father...Lily Briscoe, a friend of Mrs.Ramsay's, is painting on a white canvas, a beautiful picture of the island and sea, outside the shabby house of her friends, ( they are not wealthy) maybe even the lighthouse, the trouble is, she can not finish it. Something always stops the woman, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, the children, birds making noises, little critters scurrying around, the strong winds, friends talking, Mr.Tansley saying women can't paint or write any excuse she needs. The old maid enjoys the company of Mr.William Banks, an older widower, Mrs. Ramsay a romantic at heart, and a busy matchmaker is trying to get the two married. Plain Lily is not very enthusiastic, she likes her freedom, a lonely life for her she wants.... Years pass people die, the war begins and finally ends, nothing lasts forever the ghosts of the past will not stay dead, memories linger on the survivors continue, they can't forget. James at long last takes the boat with his detested father, yet looking for his approval he needs, brothers and sisters on board, to the fabled black and white lighthouse, above the horizon the smooth sea cooperates, a steady wind blows the sails full, the bright blue sky and equally blue ocean makes this the perfect day for their voyage. Miss Lily Briscoe, at this melancholic time completes her task, only ten years late she will put this masterpiece in the attic...
Profile Image for Guille.
785 reviews1,747 followers
March 15, 2020
“Al faro” es un cuadro, el intento de aprehender un instante.

“Al faro” es un cuadro que la autora va levantando ante nosotros pincelada a pincelada. Es un momento fijado para siempre en el que los colores aparecen mezclados, donde nada es del todo preciso, donde hasta los objetos y los paisajes son mostrados desde la sensibilidad de cada uno de los personajes, a través de sus sentimientos, de sus emociones, de sus ideas, de sus recuerdos, de sus evocaciones. Nada ocurre fuera de la mente de estos seres, no hay acontecimientos, no hay consumación ni superación de deseos, anhelos, esperanzas, miedos, todo queda reflejado y fijado en el cuadro en una escena total no más importante que cada una de sus partes.

“Al faro” es un cuadro que cuestiona eso que llamamos realidad, su comprensión, su representación, la posibilidad de expresarla.
“Veía ella todo con tanta claridad, con tanta seguridad, cuando dirigía la mirada a la escena; pero todo cambiaba cuando cogía el pincel. Era en ese momento fugaz que se interponía entre la visión y el lienzo cuando la asaltaban los demonios, que, a menudo, la dejaban a punto de echarse a llorar, y convertían ese trayecto entre concepción y trabajo en algo tan horrible como un pasillo oscuro para un niño. Le sucedía con frecuencia: luchaba en inferioridad de condiciones para mantener el valor; tenía que decirse: «Lo veo así, lo veo así», para atesorar algún resto de la visión en el corazón, una visión que un millar de fuerzas se esforzaba en arrancarle.”
“Al faro” es un cuadro catártico para la autora, como seguramente lo fueron todas sus novelas, un intento de reconciliarse con sus padres, encarnados aquí por el Sr. y la Sra. Ramsay. Esa implicación personal en su obra, más allá de la búsqueda del valor literario, como para Lily Briscoe, el tercer personaje principal de la obra, significaba la pintura, seguramente contribuye a esa fuerza especial que caracteriza su prosa.
“Acabarían colgándolo en la buhardilla o deshaciéndose de él, pensó. Pero ¿qué más daba?, se preguntó volviendo a coger el pincel.”
Pero, sobre todo, “Al faro” es un bello cuadro, casi tan magnífico como “La señora Dalloway” con la que comparte algunos temas y, sobre todo, una lírica y un estilo. Por encima de cualquier otra consideración, es la forma impresionista, a medio camino entre la narrativa y la poesía, lo más sobresaliente del relato como lo fue en aquella. Nuevamente se repite aquí la combinación de la primera y tercera persona con la que la autora concatena los distintos diálogos interiores y los consiguientes puntos de vista que conforman la narración; se conserva también el gusto por el detalle cotidiano, así como el poder evocador de la recreación de ambientes y la descripción sentimental de escenarios y objetos.

Algunos de los fantasmas que Woolf pretendía exorcizar con su señora Dalloway permanecen aquí: el paso del tiempo, la frustración, la incomunicación, el papel de la mujer en la familia y en la sociedad, la homosexualidad, la duda existencial, la soledad, “aquella soledad que constituía (…) la auténtica esencia de las cosas”.

A estos hay que añadir ahora el afán de inmortalidad, de permanencia en la de memoria de los otros que se observa en dos de los personajes principales: el Sr. Ramsey a través de sus libros y la Sra. Ramsey por su necesidad de influencia en el transcurso de otras vidas. Y, por supuesto, las relaciones paternofiliales.

Aunque ello no ha sido impedimento para disfrutarla de principio a fin, he de reconocer que la obra está algo descompensada. Con una parte inicial soberbia y un interludio sorprendente, la parte final, quizás solo por comparación, me ha parecido floja. En cualquier caso, sigo manteniendo que Virginia Woolf es un portento y que posee la magia que caracteriza a los grandes.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,494 reviews2,375 followers
October 16, 2022

Slightly bewildered. Mostly satisfied. Totally transfixed. I painstakingly studied each beautifully crafted sentence with patience; like an obsessed detective looking for hidden clues as to just what Virginia Woolf had put in front of me: for the most part, I hadn't the foggiest. Reading almost half of it again, I slowly started to see through the heavy mist as to what a finely detailed work this turned out to be. This book requires complete and utter attention, if only life had a pause button and one was able to freeze time, this is what reading this novel fully deserves. The language Woolf speaks is rich and imposing, casting an hypnotic spell over me, even thought to begin I was awash with confusion, reading Woolf for the first time has truly opened my eyes to why she is regarded so highly. It's not the greatest novel I have, or will ever read, but on the other hand 'To the Lighthouse' was simply like nothing else I have read before, it belongs in a different place and time.

But why? I asked myself; why go to the lighthouse at all? Why the big fuss about going or not going, what was it about? The Mrs Ramsey that had me enraptured? She who went about in her garden in silly old hats; she who pampered Mr Ramsey with spoonfuls of tactful acquiescence. A man who appeared unworthy. Then there's Lily Briscoe, who wanted to be an artist; full of desire, but pretty hopeless at painting. And what about the children? Who tither here and there, almost in a haze. It's safe to say the characters of Woolf are much elusive and the story is inconclusive, as on the outside everything seems unfathomable. So just what the hell was it that had me adoring it so much?
Simply put Woolf evoked a feeling deep within of family, both living and deceased, and is there anything more important than that? It had me thinking of my own childhood; holidays; fragmented memories, from a seemingly distant life. Woolf clearly opened up her heart, so I opened mine right back.

I barley finished reading but looking back now it feels like a dream. Something I read in the land of the subconscious. A warm glowing extraordinary emotional pitch still burns inside. All starting with the first paragraphs describing the heavenly bliss of a six-year-old boy cutting pictures of kitchen appliances out of a magazine, and ending with the Lighthouse in sight. Even the parentheses in the novel's stylised middle section was deeply strange, and all along I seemed to forget this was written some 90 years ago. The writing of people and their feelings was unequivocally overwhelming, her prose so highly wrought. It took time for me to register that its setting was actually centered on summer holidays spent around Isle of Skye, Scotland. I would also learn the novel does have personal ties with Woolf: her parents; the gaping hole that opened when her mother passed away; and the way her father imposed himself and his grief upon his daughters. Mrs Ramsay is at the center of Woolf's thinking, then she is no more; the survivors must bear her absence.

'To the Lighthouse' was the literary equivalent to perching in the back of someone else's mind; going through their own pains and joys through the thought process. There was nothing extraordinary about her characters, they were rather conventional, nothing new, but her prose is proof of the skill in which they are written, and they could quite easily be anyone else's neighbours or friends. She captured exactly the essence of certain people, and their traits and mannerisms. It took time to adjust myself to Woolf's writing, and had me thinking it's the sort of book only those with an English Literature degree will find easy to penetrate; whereas for me, I started out in a dense forest, distant from the light, but finally ending up on a pebbly beach, where the clouds did eventually part, revealing clearer skies.

If I can praise a book so highly and still feel at odds with it, it must say something as to just what an exceptional work it really is. I could have abandoned early on (wouldn't have been the first), but gladly stayed with it. It's probably a masterpiece, but the reason I'll not give it full marks, is that I want to stand it up against some of Woolf's other novels first.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,078 followers
August 10, 2019
A Virginia Woolf hay que leerla de seguido. Sus novelas requieren que te introduzcas tanto en sus historias como en sus propios pensamientos, y cuanto más la lees más la aprecias.
'Al faro' no me ha fascinado como 'La señora Dalloway' (Porque eso es IMPOSIBLE), pero me ha gustado muchísimo.
La narración y los temas son similares, e incluso tiene una figura femenina central similar a aquella. En este caso podríamos decir que la protagonista es Mrs. Ramsay, una mujer de mediana edad, madre de 8 hijos y esposa de un egocéntrico filósofo. La historia arranca con una anécdota, la intención de la familia entera de ir a visitar el faro, durante su estancia en la isla de Skye en Escocia en 1910.
Veremos a través de sus páginas lo que supone la pérdida, el efecto de la guerra, la soledad, el papel de la mujer y las difíciles relaciones familiares y sentimentales.
Una vez más los libros de esta autora suponen un esfuerzo de EMPATÍA por parte del lector, aunque en mi caso tengo una extraña conexión con Woolf y sus personajes lo que me hace disfrutar de sus historias desde la primera página hasta la última.
En este caso el personaje con el que he conectado más profundamente ha sido Lily Briscoe, una joven pintora que se aloja junto a otros amigos en la casa de los Ramsay, pero todos los personajes me han resultado tan interesantes como creíbles.
Me ha gustado muchísimo la estructura del libro, dividida en tres partes en las que la segunda es una especie de puente entre la primera y tercera, separadas por un espacio de tiempo de 10 años. Amé mucho la segunda parte, pero mucho.
Terminé el libro con ganas de volver a empezarlo otra vez, y eso me pasa tan pocas veces... ♡
Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,677 followers
July 31, 2014
Oh Virginia! How is it that you make your words spring to life from the barren pages and hit my senses with the force of a gale every time? How is it that you peel off the layers of the banal and reveal the terrible beauty of the core? How is it that you steer my consciousness so deep into the murky waters of uncharted territory that resurfacing takes a toll on my strength?

I wonder what spirit possessed you every time you picked up your pen, brimming over with confidence or maybe unsure of your own craft, to pour every ounce of what weighed on your mind fluidly into the empty pages waiting in anticipation. I wonder if you heard the voices of decades lost in the spiral of time whispering into your ears the truest wisdom of all, as you sat at a desk in a room of your own, pursuing the tail end of some stray thought. I wonder if you ever realized the worth of what you wrote or the gift you have left for generations to cherish after your bones and flesh have been turned to dust and returned to where they rose from.

I wonder if I have ever known a woman like Mrs Ramsay in person - been enamored of her ethereal beauty and grudgingly admired her command over the hearts of those who lived in her shadow and the way she let go of that same command as and when her whimsies deemed fit. I wonder if nearly every marital bond ever forged between two individuals has been or is a replication of the interplay of words and emotions, spoken and unspoken, between the Ramsays. I wonder if Lily Briscoe is truly a personification of the unified spirit of the man and the woman, their dichotomies conjoining imperfectly in the splotches of color she dabs on to her empty canvasses.

I strive to make sense of the lighthouse and what it illuminates in a rare moment facilitating cognition, when my eyes have become well-adjusted to the darkness. I don't get the purpose of its existence but I do. I see the lighthouse, hazy and sprayed white by the sea imprisoning it on all sides, standing tall in all its majestic grandeur merging with the horizon, out of my reach and I wonder how it looms so large yet recedes into the distance as a mute, inanimate witness to the play acts of life. I see it as I turn the pages, sometimes not understanding what it is that Virginia wants me to grasp and sometimes struck speechless by the impact of a realization in an instant of profound lucidity.

No other book has rendered me so completely helpless in my measly efforts to encapsulate its essence. No other book has required of me such prolonged contemplation.
Think of the usual quota of trite responses to a question like "How're you?". Think of the quick "I'm fine" or "I'm well, how are you?" that comes without a moment's delay and how untrue and inadequate either response is each time. If somebody asks me to pronounce judgement on TTL, I'd perhaps respond with an equally predictable 'It is the best book I have read yet' and realize instantly how vapid and insincere this answer is, how silly it is to call this Woolf creation merely a "best book".

Currents of erratic thoughts, many of them contradictory in nature, are zipping past each other inside my head this moment and I am unable to articulate into words the fact of their individual existence as I open my mouth or let my fingers move over this keyboard. That is what attempting to dissect To the Lighthouse feels like. Irrespective of what I write or attempt to write, it is sure to be of little significance and ineffective in giving anyone even a teeny glimpse of what Virginia succeeds in capturing so flawlessly.

Sights and sounds and smells and emotions - strong, subtle, indescribable. The ephemeral quality of an instant when a man and a woman watch their little girl play with a ball, a rare moment in time when each of their individual actions and thoughts are somehow in perfect harmony. The resolute constancy of life and it's cautious but sure-footed tread on the newer ground of change and our bittersweet relationship with this change. A melding together of past, present and future in a blur of color and meaning. Every human emotion ever known and felt. All of this and much more. A pure cerebral extravaganza, a celebration of the collective spirit of our existence on this ugly and beautiful world of ours, an acknowledgement of both pain and joy. That is what I think it is.

I dream of going to the lighthouse one day like James, I dream of letting it guide my progress in the lightless, labyrinthine pathways into the heart and soul of this narrative once again. I dream of not allowing any sentence, any word to whiz past me uncomprehended when I read this again some day.
Till then I only delight in swaying to the rhythm of her words, in her immortal lyrics in the song of life.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews489 followers
January 2, 2023
To the Lighthouse was my first exposure to Virginia Woolf. Unfortunately, after reading about forty pages, I gave up. I wasn't comfortable with her stream of consciousness and kept her out of my reading list. Since that time, however, I have read a few of her major works and have come to adore her. I've grown comfortable with her writing now.

To the Lighthouse is Virginia's most autobiographical work. The main characters - Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay were modeled on her real-life parents. The character of Lily Briscoe and her thoughts on the creative process of painting represent her thoughts on writing. Some of the events of the book too are taken from real life. This autobiographic element gives this work a truthfulness and an earnestness that goes right through to the reader's heart.

To the Lighthouse touches on many themes. Outwardly, one can identify marriage as one focal theme. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey's marriage is one balanced between intellect and emotion, Mr. Ramsay bringing the intellect and Mrs. Ramsay the emotions. The combined harmony of these two aspects keeps them together irrespective of their so different temperaments. The parent and child relationship is another theme. The paternal authority of Mr. Ramsay and its ineffective smoothing by his wife leave the younger Ramsay children considering their father a tyrant, a despot. Their resentment for him and his authority is too great to be smoothed by the mother's love. But what their mother couldn't do, time does. Ten-year span sees a reconciliation through mature understanding and respect. All these stemmed from Virginia's personal experiences and her need to express them and to share them in the guise of a story, for it is said that writing this novel was Virginia's attempt at understanding her parents and their relationship and hers with them.

But the most important is the inward focus on the meaning of life. There is an in-depth discussion of change, impermanence, and death. Virginia captures the ephemeral nature of life and the human's eternal struggle in finding the meaning of life within it. The Ramsays and their friends too go through this familiar struggle. In this ever-changing life, with its impermanence, they try desperately to hold on to something for permanence and stability. This may be an object or a feeling or even a fleeting moment. Mrs. Ramsay's and James's focus is on the lighthouse. It is both a symbol of permanence and illumination but is inaccessible. Mrs. Ramsey dies not visiting it and when James Ramsay visits the lighthouse at last it is only to realize that it is not as he imagined. Lily Briscoe's painting is her object of permanence. But she never finishes it. And Mr. Ramsay's ground for permanence is his work. Yet, he is constantly anxious and fearful lest he and his work will be soon forgotten. He seeks permanence and immortality which cannot be attained. This philosophical and psychological discussion was so fascinating and it is what I enjoyed the most.

Above all, however, what most draws me to Virginia is her writing. It is her strength. It is the weapon with which she captures readers' hearts. There is such lyrical beauty in her writing notwithstanding her stream of consciousness. Her writing is poetry in the prosaic guise. I was very much absorbed from page one to the end. It was such a beautiful work of literature that reading it was such a pleasure.

Many critics believe that Waves is Virginia Woolf's masterpiece. And while I agree with them I must admit that To the Lighthouse follows closely behind given the intensity of thoughts and emotions she has poured into it. And Virginia Woolf herself had admitted that it was "easily the best of (her) books".
Profile Image for Lewis Weinstein.
Author 10 books512 followers
February 16, 2016
This was a book I thought I should read. It is described as the novel that established Virginia Woolf as a leading writer of the 20th century.

So I started, and on page 6, I came to this sentence …

She was now formidable to behold, and it was only in silence, looking up from their plates, after she had spoken so severely about Charles Tansley, that her daughters, Prue, Nancy, Rose - could sport with infidel ideas which they had brewed for themselves of a life different from hers; in Paris, perhaps; a wilder life; not always taking care of some man or other; for there was in all their minds a mute questioning of deference and chivalry, of the Bank of England and the Indian Empire, of ringed fingers and lace, though to them all there was something in this of the essence of beauty, which called out the manliness in their girlish hearts, and made them, as they sat at the table beneath their mother’s eyes, honour her strange severity, her extreme courtesy, like a Queen’s raising from the mud to wash a beggar’s dirty foot, when she thus admonished them so very severely about that wretched atheist who had chased them - or, speaking accurately, been invited to stay with them - in the Isles of Skye.

I stopped reading.

I see many 5***** ratings. If anyone who loved it wants to offer a reason why I should continue reading, I am open to hear it.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,945 reviews610 followers
June 11, 2023
That's another magnificent text, which has the disadvantage of burying all the others. After Virginia, they seem to be the work of sluggish jobbers. But, finally, I will get over it.
To talk about it is to diminish it. To seek its meaning and symbolism is to reduce it. Like Rimbaud's Illuminations, you have to read it and let a thousand images, feelings, and gigantic or tiny sensations that are described flourish in you. Everything mingles and intertwines around a thin thread, a couple, a holiday home, an island of Scotland, the sea, a lighthouse, a garden, a window, people, children, words spoken or not, and secret thoughts.
One can still say: that a woman, Mrs. Ramsay, is, feels, is perhaps, the center of gravity of a family of eight children, a husband, and friends on vacation. The youngest, James, wants to go to the lighthouse by boat. His mother tells him they will go the next day, but his father declares it will be wrong; the wind blows from the west. So the day goes by, and, as in Mrs. Dalloway, she condenses the central part of the characters. The fluid mind narrator moves from one psyche to another, and the characters, like the tide's ebb and flow, let themselves permeate with all their movements. Mrs. Ramsay and her husband, who devours her excellent, fascinating painter, Lily Briscoe, try to paint her from the garden. Behind her window, mother to the child with his son James, the young Charles Tansey, looking for his place, disagreeable, fascinated too. William Bankes, Ramsay's friend, resists the charm of Mrs. Ramsay, Paul, and Minta, whom she wants to marry, and the children who venerate: dinner, beef stew, bedtime, end of the day, storm. Unlike Mrs Dalloway, however, the story starts again, "Time passes" and "The Lighthouse" constitute an unfortunate and melancholy sequel to the glorious summer day of the first part.
There, I've said too much. There is much more to it. It is enlightenment.
November 25, 2017
«Γιατί Αν Δεν Κοιτάς Εκεί Που Θες Να Πας, Θα Πας Εκεί Που Κοιτάς» <—> Μέχρι Το Φάρο...

Το ταξίδι προς το Φάρο είναι κατά την άποψη μου μια αυτοεκπληρούμενη προφητεία.
Ένα κίνητρο προς ένα στόχο. Μια πρόβλεψη, που ουσιαστικά μέσα απο τη χρονική πορεία των γεγονότων, προκαλείται η πραγμάτωση της με διφορούμενη σημασία.
Αν επιδράσουν θετικά η πεποίθηση και η συμπεριφορά τότε πραγματοποιείται με επιτυχία η επίτευξη του στόχου ακόμη κι αν πρόκειται για μια χίμαιρα. Η σαγηνευτική λάμψη του φάρου των επιθυμιών σου ( κρυφών ή απαγορευμένων) σε προσκαλεί να την πλησιάσεις «τώρα»
-προσδιορισμός χρόνου- άμεσα, έγκαιρα, θαραλλέα.

Αν το αναβάλλεις χρονικά ελπίζοντας σε καλύτερες συνθήκες ή διαιωνίζοντας την κυριαρχία των προσωπικών σου φόβων, η λανθασμένη ένωση πεποίθησης και συμπεριφοράς θα σε πάνε εκεί που κοιτάς.... αφού τυφλώθηκες απο το φως των ονείρων σου και οικειοθελώς κατέστρεψες την ευκαιρία να κοιτάς μόνο εκεί που θες να πας.
Αν θες να ζεστάνεις την ψυχή σου πήγαινε αμέσως προς τη φωτιά των ονείρων σου, αν φοβηθείς τις φλόγες και το μεταφέρεις χρονικά, τότε φθάνοντας ίσως να έχει σβήσει η φωτιά, θα βρεις απομεινάρια απο ζεστή στάχτη ή ακόμη χειρότερα θα αισθανθείς πλήρη παγωνιά.

«Σκεφτείτε ένα τραπέζι κουζίνας όταν δεν είστε εκεί»

Ξεκινώντας αυτό το μυθιστόρημα δεν κατάφερα να ερμηνεύσω τις σκέψεις αυτής της αρρωστημένα χαρισματικής και ευφυέστατης προσωπικότητας. Κατάφερα ίσως να τη γνωρίσω, να έρθω σε μια πρώτη επαφή με την λαμπρότητα του έργου της Virginia Woolf και να γοητευτώ.

Γράφει τη δεκαετία του 1920 και είναι μια πρωτοπόρος της λογοτεχνίας, μια επαναστατική πένα της «συνειδησιακής ροής».

Η πλοκή απλούστατη, η αφήγηση πολυδιάστατη μέσα απο διαφορετικούς χαρακτήρες με «εσωτερικούς μονολόγους».
Δεν υπάρχει δράση ή περιπέτεια μέσα στο βιβλίο, υπάρχει όμως ζωή.
Λείπει η ενέργεια σε όλα τα επίπεδα όμως υπάρχει έντονα η προσέλκυση για ενδοσκόπηση και στοχασμό.
Δεν υπάρχει κανένα φανταχτερό ή αγωνιώδες στοιχείο πλοκής και εξέλιξης.
Η συγγραφέας έγραψε για ενήλικες αναγνώστες και θα αναμένει πάντα απο τους ενήλικες να καταλάβουν τι έγραψε.

Υφαίνει με αριστουργηματική τεχνική επιδεξιότητα και ποιητική ομορφιά γρήγορες και φευγαλέες εντυπώσεις του περιβάλλοντος των ηρώων, χαράζοντας με έντονο πνεύμα εκτιμήσεις αντικειμένων και αναμνήσεων σε συνάρτηση με το χρονικό χάος.

Μέσα απο σκέψεις, όνειρα και συνειδήσεις μετατοπίζει τις αντιλήψεις των ανθρώπων, αποκαλύπτει τις εσωτερικές πτυχές και τις άστοχες συμπεριφορές αυτών που έχουν την τάση να σκέφτονται κάτι συγκεκριμένο μα να λένε κάτι άλλο.

Το βιβλίο αυτό, σχεδόν έναν αιώνα μετα τη δημιουργία του διατηρεί τη συνάφεια και τη δύναμη να μας προκαλέσει, να μας αποκαλύψει με πρωτότυπο τρόπο πτυχές των ανθρώπινων σχέσεων φθάνοντας ως το νόημα της ύπαρξης.

Η αφήγηση καλύπτει δυο ξεχωριστές μέρες που διαχωρίζονται χρονικά. Ανάμεσα τους μεσολαβούν δέκα χρόνια.
Σε ένα νησί,στο εξοχικό σπίτι κοντά στο φάρο δημιουργείται το πορτρέτο μιας ζεστής και οικείας οικογένειας - γονείς, οκτώ παιδιά- και των φίλων που φιλοξενούν απολαμβάνοντας παρέα τις καλοκαιρινές διακοπές.
Όλοι συνεισφέρουν τις σκέψεις τους.
Η καθημερινότητα υπογραμμίζει ποικίλες κοινωνικές καταστάσεις και προαναγγέλει το ρόλο των γυναικών στη ζωή εντός ή εκτός γάμου καθώς και τη θέση της γυναίκας στην καλλιτεχνική και δημιουργική πορεία.

Υπάρχει έντονη αντανάκλαση του πνευματικού κλίματος της Αγγλίας πριν τον Ά Παγκόσμιο πόλεμο καθώς και την επιθυμία πολλών φιλοσόφων και στοχαστών να επιβιώσει η πνευματική τους κληρονομιά.

Η σκέψη του χρόνου εντονότατη. Όλα υποχωρούν, φθείρονται, αποσυντίθενται και μεταβάλλονται μέχρι θανάτου.
Σταθερός παράγοντας ο Φάρος. Άπλετη η θέα της μεγαλοπρέπειας του αν κοιτάς απο το παράθυρο του σπιτιού προς αυτόν.

Μεσολαβεί μια γέφυρα δέκα χρόνων. Στηρίζει πάνω της έναν πόλεμο, τη φυσική φθορά των πραγμάτων και το θάνατο ανθρώπων και ανεκπλήρωτων δυνατοτήτων.

Η δεύτερη μέρα διαδραματίζεται ακριβώς στο ίδιο νησί, στο ίδιο σπίτι με τους ίδιους ανθρώπους και τις ίδιες επιθυμίες. Το «ίδιο» μετά απο δέκα χρόνια είναι απίστευτα διαφορετικό.
Θάνατος, εμπειρίες, καταστροφές, φθορά υλικών και ονείρων.
Τώρα πρωταγωνιστεί η ειρωνεία που χαμογελάει σαρκαστικά σε όσους απέμειναν να αποτρέπουν και να αναβάλλουν πιστεύοντας στην αιωνιότητα της ύπαρξης και των ευκαιριών.
Ακόμη και η πολυπόθητη εκδρομή προς το φάρο που γίνεται με πλεούμενο την τραγική ειρωνεία, έχει ως ταξίδι πολύ διαφορετική σημασία.

Καμία ομοιομορφία και καμία ενοποιητική φωνή στα μέρη αυτού του μυθιστορήματος, που λειτουργεί όμως άριστα, συλλαμβάνοντας το πέρασμα του χρόνου και της τροποποιημένης φιλοσοφικής ροής μέσα απο τις συνειδήσεις των χαρακτήρων.

Η συνολική επίδραση είναι ισχυρή και η λυρική πεζογραφία της Virginia Woolf μας ζωγραφίζει με πολλά χρώματα λέξεων ένα πολύ προσωπικό πορτρέτο ζωής.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.

Profile Image for Mir.
4,868 reviews5,034 followers
July 9, 2010
You know how you secretly fear that if anyone really knew you, knew all your pettinesses and fears and insecurities and unkindnesses, they wouldn't, couldn't, like you? I'm sure Virginia Woolf was familiar with that feeling. I suspect she went back and forth on the question of whether it were true or not. At times she seems to love her characters; at other moments, to despise them. The characters display the same shifting extremes of emotion for one another, moving from an almost idolizing devotion to resentful criticism in the space of a few thoughts, then flowing back. This sounds frenzied in description, but is in fact smooth and in a way soothing, perhaps because Woolf's mimicry of thought flows so naturally.

How well, how amazingly well she writes. From the first passages the characterization is so strong, so subtle, so perfect, so brilliantly insightful. I don't know how she conveys so much with every word choice. At first I felt that the writing was almost too perfectly crafted; it is never possible to ignore the author's hand at work, to forget that this is an artificial construct. But then I realized that the writing itself constitutes a character, as becomes most evident in the Time Passes section where humans are absent. Suddenly, everyone departs and we are left with only the house and grounds -- and the prose.

A pivotal passage for my understanding of the role of the writing as character was this strange, awkward metaphor in the passage describing the night:

The autumn trees, ravaged as they are, take on the flash of tattered flags kindling in the gloom of cool cathedral caves where gold letters on marble pages describe death in battle and how bones bleach and burn far away in Indian sands.

What kind of literal sense does this make? I can picture the leaves like tattered flags, but what are they doing in a cathedral? Why is the inscription about battle and bones in the cathedral? How did India get into the picture? Given Woolf's level of craftswomanship, the self-consciousness of the prose, and the complexity of this sentence, I cannot believe that accident is responsible. After trying for some while to explain this and other strange prose structures, I decided that it was meant to mirror the internal illogics and discontinuities of thought. Just as the characters have streams of consciousness, so does the narration. Like human thought, it sometimes breaks down, fails to follow a clear path, reveals biases.

That this passages occurs as we transition into the Time Passes section is no accident. In the first section, where the summer house encapsulates its inhabitants, Mrs. Ramsey smooths the physical and emotional lives of those around her, both nurturing and smothering so that feelings, actions, behaviors, thoughts all to a greater or lesser degrees conform to her expectations. This first section is taut, tight, cohesive to the point of claustrophobia. Without Mrs Ramsey, the subsequent section is loose, disordered, untidy. The domestic sphere collapses both physically and emotionally. The exterior and interior structures of the novel mirror one another.

In the final section of the novel, natural progression reasserts itself against the charmed stasis of the earlier narrative. The children go to the Lighthouse; people marry and marriages fall apart; children die and are born; Lily completes her painting.

**********************Unrelated 2nd review 07/10**********************

I've read books and forgotten them: many of the sword&sorcery novels I absorbed in middle school run together in an amorphous blob of bright color in my mind; I remember nothing of Flinn's An Economic and Social History of Britain Since 1700 except the title. However, it is hard for me to believe that To the Lighthouse could fall into this category. Nonetheless, two pages of notes from college tell me that I read at least part of the book and thought about it intensely and failed to recollect ever having so much as held it in my hands before this year. Nor can I recall a course for which it would have been relevant, yet even less likely is it that I read it on my own and wrote down my thoughts on Woolf's use of grammar and how I thought her ideas related to other philosophers. Also, I seem to have been considerably smarter a decade and a half ago, which I already knew but hate having rubbed in my face.

Here's what the younger smart me thought while reading this book:

With weak connectives, Woolf robs the syntax of its normal stiffness, emancipating meanings that otherwise would not be available. The preoccupation with the relationship of outlines/shape to sensibility likewise blurs meaning.

The "felicitous correlation between what we perceive and what actually exists" parallels medieval theology. It also echoes the question raised in the Proteus episode: how do I perceive? [check library for history of how seeing becomes esoteric.:]

The idea of critique is investigation into the conditions of something's existence. Derrida says that representation is always misrepresentation. Women cannot pass into symbolic order because cannot have power of (self)representation.

Objection to Habermas: doesn't account for how we move from the natural to the symbolic world, versus Adorno puts this at the heart of his aesthetic theory. For example, the heavily symbolic appearance of paper money. Mystification is at the heart of both economic and aesthetic practice -- passage into a symbolic world. Meanings are achieved by relationship to other signs in the system. But poetry is not meant to be converted into "meaning". A system of symbolism replaces a system of beliefs with endowed meanings, not intrinsic ones.

Is the idea of limit absolute or rational? The limitless is not representable.

The idea of crisis has been commodified, commercialized. Disaster novels as cheap form of modernist disintegration of civilization. Yeats wanted to make Ireland a symbol of the anti-modern: form, community. We have learned to see people as constructed, interpolated, acculturated; not essential.

The great Heroic Age ending with Napoleon is a theme of late 19th century literature.
Romanticism is the literature of a revolution that has been defeated.

The Enlightenment brought together the ideas 1) culture is relative 2( cultural specificity should be treasured. How then to politically order the world? Is it possible to tell a story with universal import? Diderot: fiction is moral imperialism. Shaftesbury: travel literature is corrupting because it emphasizes the difference between peoples rather than universal morality. Kant: since we all share a rational nature, we should produce a universal system of peace, order, prosperity, and rationality (Habermas' vision). But imperialism, irrationalism, and glorification of difference destroyed this possibility. The scandal and brilliance of modern systems of domination is that they are based on rationality but breed irrational systems like fascism. The aesthetic is the only arena not based on domination.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,157 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.