Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review : The Waves - Virginia Woolf 6*

I'm not sure that this my best possible introduction to the writing of Virginia Woolf. The Waves is a breathless stream of consciousness style novel in which the entire writing is presented as chunks of dialogue or inner thoughts presented by each of the six characters. The thoughts and musings of the six, who begin as children and age in spurts throughout the book, overlap and intertwine. Sometimes they tell the different sides of the same part of the tale, sometimes they are narratives of their own life only.

I found the writing style of The Waves to be really beautiful, Woolf had a craft with words and phrases that makes each paragraph a joy to read for its prose style, but her deliberate blurring of the individual identities of the six characters made it hard to follow the plot, such as the plot is. There is a seventh character, Percival, who never speaks a dialogue of his own, but who is revered and honoured by the others, and greatly mourned and missed after his death, this tragedy provides much of the impetus within the direction of the plot.

This was a hard book to read, despite its slim size, I spent page after page in wonderment at Woolf's word play, whilst at the same time thinking that I wasn't sure who was speaking or even if that was important to the flow of the book. Woolf herself called the book not a novel but a 'playpoem', it isn't really stream of consciousness writing either, Woolf pored over the work and made two drafts before publication.

66 of 1001.


  1. interesting - I have it lined up to read myself... and this makes me keener to tackle it.

  2. Is that really 66 out of 1001?

  3. 66 books read from the 1001 list that is, not a weird scoring system.