Furqan's Reviews > Orlando

Orlando by Virginia Woolf
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's review
Apr 16, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: modern-classics, virginia-woolf, bloomsbury-group, british-literature, favourite-books, to-reread
Read from April 12 to 15, 2012

Orlando was an amusing if somewhat a bizarre novel. It is deemed Woolf's most accessible novel and it certainly is. I struggled enormously with To the Lighthouse because of its narrative being written in 'stream of consciousness' mode, which I find very difficult to engage with. Orlando, however, is not written in 'stream of consciousness' mode (except few passages in the end) and it also has an eccentric but engaging plot.

The protagonist, Orlando lives through four centuries, starting from the Elizabethan age to Woolf's present time. The very first chapter offers something delicious and unconventional with Orlando "slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters". Orlando is a country gentleman, who unlike his peers is infected with love of poetry and nature. Through out the novel, he struggles to establish his identity in the shadow of his several affairs with women, his time spent in Constantinople as an ambassador and most importantly when one day he wakes up to find himself as a woman.

It is through now Lady Orlando's soliloquies and various experiences with men and women, that Woolf voices her criticism of gender roles which this novel is perhaps famous for. Although she does it in a very comical way, that there were times I laughed out loud. There is a particular scene where Lady Orlando in a desperate attempt to get rid of a persistent suitor drops a small toad at him, and then "She laughed. The Archduke blushed. She laughed. The Archduke cursed. She laughed. The Archduke slammed the door."


In short, Orlando is a pleasant, quirky and especially a hilarious read. If you are new to Woolf, it's a perfect introduction to her. It's one of those few books I think I'll definitely read again.
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Quotes Furqan Liked

Virginia Woolf
“The taste for books was an early one. As a child he was sometimes found at midnight by a page still reading. They took his taper away, and he bred glow-worms to serve his purpose. They took the glow-worms away and he almost burnt the house down with a tinder.”
Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Virginia Woolf
“He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life.”
Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Virginia Woolf
“No passion is stronger in the breast of a man than the desire to make others believe as he believes. Nothing so cuts at the root of his happiness and fills him with rage as the sense that another rates low what he prizes high.”
Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Reading Progress

04/12 page 45
08/06 marked as: read
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