Group Read, December 2014: Orlando

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Group Read, December 2014: Orlando

Tämä viestiketju on "uinuva" —viimeisin viesti on vanhempi kuin 90 päivää. Ryhmä "virkoaa", kun lähetät vastauksen.

1puckers
marraskuu 30, 2014, 8:38pm

Our last Group Read of the year is Virginia Woolf's Orlando. Looking forward to the discussion.

2M1nks
joulukuu 4, 2014, 4:45pm

I still haven't picked this up yet. I'm putting off reading another of Woolf's work I think.

Must stop being a wimp!

3sjmccreary
joulukuu 4, 2014, 5:28pm

I've started it. Nearly finished with chapter 2, I think. (An audio version, so hard to be sure - no pages to flip ahead in)

So far, I'd be lost without sparknotes. I'm still waiting for something exciting to happen.

4Simone2
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 5, 2014, 2:30am

Usually I am a bit afraid of Virginia Woolf (after reading Mrs Dalloway, The Waves and To the Lighthouse), but this is a pleasant surprise so far. I have just started but I'd like to read the sentences out loud, so beautiful they are!

5M1nks
joulukuu 5, 2014, 6:54am

I found Mrs. Dalloway quite beautiful so maybe Orlando won't be as bad as I remember.

6sjmccreary
joulukuu 5, 2014, 4:54pm

Well, I've gotten farther into the book - chapter 4 now. Orlando has turned into a woman, so I guess that was exciting. I'm enjoying the book more now. Perhaps I'm just getting more accustomed to the writing. This is my first Woolf. I'm still referring to Sparknotes to confirm my comprehension, but relying on it less than before.

7japaul22
joulukuu 6, 2014, 7:48am

I'm not reading this now because I already had a group read planned for next year with a different group, but I'm curious about how this goes. I've heard that Orlando is autobiographical. I know a little about Virginia Woolf's life (I read a short biography a year ago) but I'm wondering if people who don't know a lot about Woolf (like me) are getting much of that autobiographical element? I'm considering reading another biography of Woolf before reading Orlando to help out with this.

8Simone2
joulukuu 7, 2014, 3:15am

I have read that the book can be read as a love letter to Woolf's lover Vita and it certainly experiments with themes like gender and bi-sexuality, but I cannot say if it is completely autobiographical. However, when I start thinking about it, perhaps the weeks that Orlando sleeps symbolize Woolf's periods of mental illness, to be followed by new visions on life and living it.
Well, I'm not sure. Maybe Nickelini can help us out? She knows a lot about Woolf, I thought.
Anyhow, I am still enjoying the book (Orlando returns to England), although the best part for me remains the story during the Great Frost.

9M1nks
joulukuu 8, 2014, 12:20pm

I have finally started and am surprised to find myself enjoying it. Unfortunately everyone seems unified on the first part being the best bit.

10Nickelini
joulukuu 8, 2014, 12:53pm

I don't remember ever hearing that Orlando is autobiographical. What I remember is that it was supposed to be some sort of autobiographical homage to Vita Sackville-West. Sorry, I've gone off in a different literary direction this year and haven't thought about Woolf for a while so it's all a little rusty.

I highly recommend watching the movie, which stars Tilda Swinton. One of my favourites if just for the visual appeal. Here's a link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MorOaD61KUI

11sjmccreary
joulukuu 8, 2014, 12:55pm

>8 Simone2: I think there will be a lot to discuss and speculate about some of the details in the book - like the weeks of sleep. I've also read the same about this book being for/about Vita Sackville-West, which surely provides more depth and richness to the story.

>9 M1nks: Well, I'm liking the middle part better than the first and enjoyed Turkey more than the Frost Fair, so it's not unanimous.

12japaul22
joulukuu 8, 2014, 12:58pm

I have read that the book can be read as a love letter to Woolf's lover Vita

This must be what I remember reading about, not about it being autobiographical. Thanks for the clarification, everyone!

13amerynth
joulukuu 8, 2014, 8:55pm

I'm about a third of the way through the book and not enjoying it at all. This is my fourth book by Woolf and I only really liked The Years, which is a much more traditional story. We are just not a good match, I guess.

It has made me wonder if I should read The Waves again though... I keep thinking I was too hard rating that one, because it was far better than this.

14sjmccreary
joulukuu 9, 2014, 6:49pm

Almost done - maybe this evening...

15puckers
joulukuu 10, 2014, 1:49am

I read this over the last couple of days and enjoyed it. The highlight of my previous three Woolf list books was her ability to describe places and atmospheres so vividly and this book confirmed this ability - the frozen Thames scenes have been highlighted by others above. I also enjoyed how Woolf moves almost seamlessly through 500 years of the history of London.

In comparison with the other books I've read, this has fantasy elements (the timelessness of Orlando, his/her sex change and the view of all Britain from one hill) and the voice of the narrator is more distinctive.

An enjoyable read 3.5/5

16sjmccreary
joulukuu 10, 2014, 5:41pm

Finished this afternoon. I didn't hate it, but I don't know yet how much I like it. I get some of the symbolism, I think. But, overall, I'm having trouble understanding the book for much more than a nonsensical romp - perhaps with inside jokes for the literary group that Woolf was part of in the 1920's. I understand the part about the sexes, and the arbitrariness of the so-called nature of men and women. But can someone tell me what the oak tree was about?

17M1nks
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 10, 2014, 6:07pm

I haven't finished it, not even close but one part of the story dealing with the oak tree has stuck in my mind; where Orlando has lain down on the earth and and feel the root of the tree running up his spine. He talks about how he needs that, or something like that, as an anchor. It is very clear that Orlando has a greater connection to the natural world than to people.

Perhaps the oak tree is part of his families land, something which binds him and gives him a connection to the earth and his lands. The poem or bit of writing that Orlando is trying to do so far hasn't been written, I guess I see that at the moment as symbolising Orlando's lack of ability to express all of this clearly. Perhaps it isn't even something that 'can' be clearly expressed or encapsulated.

18M1nks
joulukuu 10, 2014, 6:10pm

Shmoop says this: (I presume there is more about the poem further on in the book - I haven't gotten that far yet)

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

This poem serves as a talisman for Orlando. Written painstakingly over the course of four hundred years, we can view "The Oak Tree" as a record of Orlando’s life and evolving literary style. It is finally finished and published after Orlando’s marriage to Shel. Is there a connection? We certainly think so. By marrying Shel, Orlando makes her peace with the spirit of the age (in other terms: society) and simultaneously comes into literary maturation.

Now we need to talk about the title of the poem. Although an oak tree changes throughout its entire life, it still remains the same tree, rooted to the same spot in the ground. This parallels the life of the poem, which, although it grows in length and changes over time, remains a single poem. What’s striking, however, is that we are never given any excerpts from the poem. We must base our speculations on Orlando’s life and character as we watch them unfold.

19sjmccreary
joulukuu 10, 2014, 7:28pm

>17 M1nks: Yes, I'd forgotten about that. The root of the tree is mentioned again later.

>18 M1nks: Yes, there is more about the poem throughout the book. "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory" - this is exactly why I hated taking literature classes and never did very well in them. I simply cannot see this stuff without having someone spell it out for me! So this explanation makes sense to me, but I would not have the ability to recognize or dispute it if it were totally wrong.

20M1nks
joulukuu 11, 2014, 6:49am

I've now finished the section in Turkey (perhaps) and the 3 female (virtues?) ladies have just pranced into the room. I have to admitt I am really enjoying this re-read. The humour especially is a very pleasant surprise.

21amerynth
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 11, 2014, 2:58pm

I finished last night and had a similar reaction to sjmccreary. I really didn't get much out of it, other than a somewhat silly story, which I found kind of dull.

There are several authors that I think I'm just not smart enough to get what they're trying to do... like Saul Bellow, James Joyce.... I'm pretty sure Woolf is on this list for me too.

22justifiedsinner
joulukuu 11, 2014, 12:44pm

Although I loved A Room of One's Own I'm not a big fan of Woolf. I read To the Lighthouse in my teens and didn't really understand it. I detested Mrs. Dalloway who I found as superficial as any latter-day reality "star". I find, however, that I am quite enjoying Orlando. What's strikes me most is it's humour. There are several passages that are satires on contemporary society. The passage about the poet Nicholas Greene is a wonderful satire on writers and literary types in general.

23M1nks
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 11, 2014, 2:29pm

They sat on either side of the fireplace and sometimes the Archduke knocked over the fire-irons and Orlando picked them up again. The the Archduke would bethink him how he had shot an elk in Sweden, and Orlando would ask, was it a very big elk, and the Archduke would say that it was not as big as the reindeer which he shot in Norway; and Orlando would ask, had he ever shot a tiger, and the Archduke would say he had shot an albatross...

Why can I not recall how FUNNY this book was?

24Nickelini
joulukuu 12, 2014, 12:07pm

Shmoop says

Ah! I didn't even think to look for this on Shmoop. Thanks for pointing it out. I love Shmoop and I love Orlando.

http://www.shmoop.com/orlando-woolf/

25M1nks
joulukuu 16, 2014, 7:08am

Finished this this morning and as previously stated I found it a very pleasant little re-read - I have evidently changed my tastes a tab since I was 9yrs old :-)

I loved the moving sense of moving through history at the start of a paragraph you could be at one point in history and by the next I'd realise we were somewhere else. This was also a very amusing book and I hadn't realised how truly funny Virginia Woolf can be.

Everything was handled with a poetical grace; Ms Woolf has such a gift with language which I saw in Mrs. Dalloway which I didn't particulary like, it elevates her work into literary art.

4 stars