Patricia's Reviews > The Voyage Out

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf
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's review
Oct 14, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-it-on-kindle

another great kindle buy - _early works of virginia woolf_ for a buck! this edition includes _jacob's room_, _monday or tuesday_, _night and day_, and _the voyage out_.

_the voyage out_, published in 1915, is her first novel. woolf was 33 when the book was published.

often compared with emily bronte's _wuthering heights_, _the voyage out_ is a socio-economic study of a young woman and the book's heroine, rachel, defining her own place in society arguably as a protofeminist.

i'm a little more than halfway through the book and i find woolf's caliber of writing in her first literary venture to be on a par with any of her other novels.

an interesting tidbit, woolf introduces arguably her most well-known character and one of the most well-known figures in modern literture: clarissa dalloway.

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i finished _the voyage out_ last night (wee hours of the morning). rachel, the book's heroine, falls in love with arthur and arthur with rachel. arthur internalizes his disdain for the institution of marriage and debates whether to propose marriage to rachel. caught up in a moment of romanticism, he proposes and rachel accepts. they have some awkward moments adjusting to the engagement.then rachel suddently becomes seriously ill with what i inferred to be typhoid fever and dies near the book's end.

i thought about this a lot last night and throughout the day.

woolf, may have used arthur as an archetype for the likes of william godwin, a radical and anarchist who condemned all cultural institutions and even a rational society. godwin's wife, the feminist mary wollstonecraft, died two weeks after givng birth to their daughter - mary wollstonecraft shelley. the couple married when mary wollstonecraft was five months pregnant and only to legitimize the child.

in woolf's singular and complex intellect arthur and rachel's love is so perfect without marriage, that when rachel dies arthur thinks to himself when he is certain that rachel has ceased to breathe:

"so much the better--this was death. it was nothing; it was to cease to breathe. it was happiness. they had now what they had always wanted to have, the union which had been impossible while they lived. unconscious whether he thought the words or spole them aloud, he said, "no two people have ever been so happy as we have been. no one has loved as we loved."

rather than having gone through the daily grind of marriage where, over time, the flowers of romance are likely to dry and fade and crumble into dust, woolf envisions this premature death of a young woman as a perfect love. rachel and arthurs love never dried or faded or crumbled to dust.

i am not a woolf, godwin, wollstonecraft nor shelley scholar so forgive my far-reaching suppositions. i'm just a girl trying to critically analyze this text with my own interpretation.

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