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1001 book reviews > Orlando, by Virginia Woolf

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Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 467 comments I was hoping that after a bunch of Philip K. Dick novels, Orlando would seem a bit less bizarre and absurd. I saw the film version of this book several times, and it was weird and not very appealing. It also seemed to go on forever, so I was happy that at least the book turned out to be short. Still, I did not like this book. I appreciated the contrast of men's versus women's lives and Woolf's writing as always was pretty, but I guess I am just not a Virginia Woolf fan. Oh well. I guess I liked this book better than some of the less plot-oriented Woolf books on the List, but I doubt I would include more than 2 of her books on my version of the 1001 Books list, and I am not sure this one would make the cut. I gave this novel 2 stars on Goodreads.

Diane | 2022 comments Rating: 4 stars

This is definitely an odd book and different than I thought it would be. It is the story of a young man born into nobility during the 16th century. He eventually falls in love, but gets his heart broken. He goes to Constantinople as an ambassador for the king. He goes into a trance and wakes up (view spoiler)

Odd book, but beautifully written. It is a good exploration into society's influence on gender roles.

Kristel (kristelh) | 3964 comments Mod
A satire on gender. This book was written in 1928 and covers 300 years but Orlando hardly ages and changes from man to woman. It is biography of Ms Woolf's poet friend/lover Vita Sackville-West, but it is also fictionalized and it is satirical.

message 4: by Karen (last edited Aug 30, 2021 03:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karen | 216 comments 5 stars.

I have read this twice now and loved it each time. A very fluid approach to gender, to time, to what nobility means, to biography and historical writing, to recognitions that prose and poetry both matter at different times.

Orlando moves from sixteen-year-old Elizabethan nobleman to heart-broken recluse, to ambassador to the Ottoman court, to a woman at home in the company of many of the famous names in the eighteenth century to a married mother. The novel ends in 1928, the same year it was first published.

This book is thought-provoking but also humourous. One of my favourite scenes is Orlando's trip back from the Ottoman Empire in which she ruminates on whether it is better to be a man or a woman. I also like the way Woolf brings clothing into the discussion; that what we wear affects who we are and what we can become. (The author clearly hates crinolines!)

A really intriguing book. I wonder what Vita Sackville-West, its inspiration, thought about it.

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