Bucket's Reviews > The Waves

The Waves by Virginia Woolf
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While it wasn't an easy read, The Waves completely blew me away. I've never read a book written like this one before - stylistically, it's one-of-a-kind and experimental and extremely successful. I've never gotten to know six different characters so quickly and deeply before. Woolf's description in the italicized portions is beautiful, visual, and flawless, and the way that the internal monologues of each character seem to be spoken, like dialogue, is fantastic.

I'm a little at odds with myself because I can't say I completely loved the book the way I usually love a book. It's more that I was impressed by it, learned from it, and am continuing to eke meaning from the beautiful and very full language. I'll let The Waves speak for itself:

But now the circle breaks. Now the current flows. Now we rush faster than before. Now passions that lay in wait down there in the dark weeds which grow at the bottom rise and pound us with their waves.

In one way or another we make this day... A million hands stitch, raise hods with bricks. The activity is endless. And tomorrow it begins again... From us every sort of building, policy, venture, picture, poem, child, factory, will spring. Life comes; life goes; we make life.

Thus we spin round us infinitely fine filaments and construct a system.

"And time", said Bernard, "lets fall its drop. The drop that has formed on the roof of the soul falls. On the roof of my mind time, forming, lets fall its drop..."

Visual impressions often communicate thus briefly statements that we shall in time to come uncover and coax into words.

They say that one must beat one's wings against the storm in the belief that beyond this welter the sun shines; the sun falls sheer into pools that are fledged with willows.

My life is not a moment's bright spark like that on the surface of a diamond... My destiny has been that I remember and must weave together, must plait into one cable the many threads, the thin, the thick, the broken, the enduring of our long history, of our tumultuous and varied day.

Thus he directed me to that which is beyond and outside our own predicament; to that which is symbolic, and thus perhaps permanent, if there is any permanence in our sleeping, eating, breathing, so animal, so spiritual and tumultuous lives.

Let us again pretend that life is a solid substance, shaped like a globe, which we turn about in our fingers. Let us pretend that we can make out a plain and logical story, so that when one matter is despatched -- love for instance -- we go on, in an orderly manner, to the next.

Yes, this is the eternal renewal, the incessant rise and fall and fall and rise again. And in me too the wave rises. It swells; it arches its back. I am aware once more of a new desire, something rising beneath me like the proud horse whose rider first spurs and then pulls him back. What enemy do we now perceive advancing against us, you whom I ride now, as we stand pawing this stretch of pavement? It is death. Death is the enemy. It is death against whom I ride with my spear couched and my hair flying back like a young man's, like Percival's, when he galloped in India. I strike spurs into my horse. Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!

Themes: time, friendship, grief, cycles, creating life from disparate pieces, differences between people, words, death, new beginnings, impermanence

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Reading Progress

December 13, 2011 – Shelved
March 6, 2012 – Started Reading
March 8, 2012 –
page 29
March 9, 2012 –
page 83
March 9, 2012 –
page 132
March 10, 2012 –
page 236
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: 1001-read-all-editions
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: classic
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: experimental
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: friendship
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: identity
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: life-and-death
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: literary
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: love
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: nature-the-outdoors
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: reviewed
March 11, 2012 – Shelved as: time
March 11, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Joye (new)

Joye I know, this is an amazing book! I also was blown away by it. I many times felt like the writing itself was like waves.

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