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Orlando - various thoughts

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Slightly confusing, definitely intriguing and deeply meaningful prose. I have read a few VW before and found her very enigmatic so Orlando is no real surprise although sex changing and time travelling are a little out of the ordinary and perhaps very forward thinking of VW. I am only into Chapter II so far but enjoying it in a funny kind of way.

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IF YOU ARE ENJOYING ORLANDO PLEASE IGNORE THE FOLLOWING.

 

 

 

How to say what I think of Orlando, not having read the whole book;  I've reached Page 147 of Chapter 4 and with apologies to those who really have taken to this book, and also apologies for bluntness, I think it is a collection of extravagant and imaginative twaddle.  I simply lost patience with the wordy descriptions and the flights of fancy (she arrives home in the carriage and the deer crowd around and quite possibly one of them kneels before her!).  We also are treated to another change of sex with the duchess who haunted the courtyard when Orlando was a man, said lady is now a man and he and Orlando 'acted the parts of man and woman for ten minutes' after he declares his love for her.  I suppose it would work out fine, he is now a she and she is now a he, although maybe this is all meant in a poetic sense. :blink:  Certainly there is ambivalence about sexual orientation in the writer's mind.   Anyhoo, it just became too much for me, a reader of thrillers and detective stories, being immersed in a fantasy of, to me, extreme proportions.  Orlando be gone!   :rolleyes:  I hope I don't get banned from the book discussion group. :unsure:

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IF YOU ARE ENJOYING ORLANDO PLEASE IGNORE THE FOLLOWING.

 

...I think it is a collection of extravagant and imaginative twaddle. 

 

I don't entirely agree, but I love your reviewing style! :)

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IF YOU ARE ENJOYING ORLANDO PLEASE IGNORE THE FOLLOWING.

 

 

 

 Orlando be gone!   :rolleyes:  I hope I don't get banned from the book discussion group. :unsure:

Loved that review - :D

Banned  - no way :flowers:

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I can definitely see where you are coming from Momac and much of me wants to say the same. I feel a little like one of the crowd looking at the Emperor’s new clothes and that you are the one who has had the courage to shout out, ‘Extravagant and imaginative twaddle’.

 

Although I think you are right and the book really frustrated me, I never the less also think that Virginia Woolf was trying to do something unusual and was probably ahead of her time (literally - not in time travel). For me, it didn’t really work, but she tried.

 

These are a few random thoughts – probably way off mark.

 

The lack of logical explanation for the time span and why some were still alive, but not others was mildly irritating, for example Orlando and Richard Greene were still around but not Pope. (In more modern stories e.g. The Time Travellers Wife there is an attempt to explain). I could only see it as Orlando being perhaps the spirit of literature throughout the ages. . . or rather the mirror that reflects the spirit of the ages and that this role was also meant as a great compliment to Vita Sackville West.

 

I found the changes in Orlando’s character perhaps more confusing than the sex change. In both genders he/she was sometimes shy and reclusive and sometimes brave and adventurous, sometimes an independent thinker and sometimes so conventional, for example that strange finger tingling that tells her to marry. I suppose this is the spirit of the age in which the author herself lived. She wanted to be unconventional but society put on the pressure to conform.

 

I took all the redrafting of Orlando’s poem to be a mixture of the spirit of the literature of the age and the pressure to conform. At first I thought it was the natural reviewing and improving until in Woolf’s own age it seemed to be a question of fitting in – strange as this did not seem to bother her or Vita Sackville West.

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Good review Angel, you brought out good points in a thoughtful way.  

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I'm still entrenched in this. Not sure how far along I am as reading an ebook but Orlando has just woken up as a woman and gone off with some Gypsies. I still have no idea what's going on but enjoying immensely. Wishing that I'd just bought the paperback though and wondering if the ebook experience is adding to the "weirdness" of it all. I find it very disconcerting to have no page numbers.

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I am part way into chapter two, and am quite enjoying it so far. The narrator's voice had not bothered me  until a recent specific reference to 'real' time - 1927, when VW was writing it. That did jar, but until that point the narrator was just a disembodied voice-over (much less bothersome than on some TV programmes). There are some interesting and amusing views on readers and writers in these asides:

...it is plain enough to those who have done a reader's part in making up from bare hints <snip> the whole boundary and circumference of a living person <snip> it is for readers such as these that we write...

...afflicted with a love of literature. <snip> of so deadly a nature...

...It was the fatal nature of this disease to substitute a phantom for reality, so that Orlando <snip> had only to open a book for the whole accumulation (of his worldly possessions) to turn to mist...

 

I think apple, and others of us, would recognise that condition!

 

...once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system it weakens it so that it falls easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the inkpot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing...

We have been warned!

 

I am finding VW's lists rather irritating. I was amused at first by her florid descriptions with simile and metaphor piled one on top of the other, but have

found myself just skimming to the end of the sentence, mentally saying to VW "yes, I've got the idea now, let's just get on with the story"

 

Not sure how I will get on with it once the time-travel/gender-changes start.

 

One other thing.

I am reading a copy published in 1975, and just before the 'love of literature' passage VW refers to the 'slicing at the Moor's head' mentioned at the start of chapter 1. She uses the 'n' word, and I'm curious to know if a little censoring has taken place in more recent editions. Can anyone reading a C21 copy check that bit?

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.

One other thing.

I am reading a copy published in 1975, and just before the 'love of literature' passage VW refers to the 'slicing at the Moor's head' mentioned at the start of chapter 1. She uses the 'n' word, and I'm curious to know if a little censoring has taken place in more recent editions. Can anyone reading a C21 copy check that bit?

Mine doesn't. I'm not quite sure whereabouts you are referring to and I don't have page numbers to check but I did look and I would have remembered had I seen it the first time round anyway. My copy claims to be the full text and published this year. Edited by lunababymoonchild

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 Wishing that I'd just bought the paperback though and wondering if the ebook experience is adding to the "weirdness" of it all.

 

I know that feeling. I was reading this on my kindle. One day as I was reading (around chapter 2) I couldn't remember the main character's name and was wishing I has a real book and could flip back more easily. I felt really silly when I remembered that 'Orlando' was the title of the book.

 

It struck me that on the kindle I just don't see the the cover or title or even, if there are any, chapter headings. It opens where I left off too, so if I'm reading more than one thing at once I'm not always sure which book I'm in. Every page looks similar and most visual clues are gone.

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One other thing.

I am reading a copy published in 1975, and just before the 'love of literature' passage VW refers to the 'slicing at the Moor's head' mentioned at the start of chapter 1. She uses the 'n' word, and I'm curious to know if a little censoring has taken place in more recent editions. Can anyone reading a C21 copy check that bit?

 

I remember trying to work out if that was supposed to be Virginia Woolf's language or Orlando's. What do you think?

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I know that feeling. I was reading this on my kindle. One day as I was reading (around chapter 2) I couldn't remember the main character's name and was wishing I has a real book and could flip back more easily. I felt really silly when I remembered that 'Orlando' was the title of the book.

 

It struck me that on the kindle I just don't see the the cover or title or even, if there are any, chapter headings. It opens where I left off too, so if I'm reading more than one thing at once I'm not always sure which book I'm in. Every page looks similar and most visual clues are gone.

Yes, I find this disconcerting too. Although on my iPad app the name of the book and the author is at the top of the page and also comes up when I open the app so at least I remember that, but have no idea what chapter I'm on or where I am in the chapter.

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The lack of logical explanation for the time span and why some were still alive, but not others was mildly irritating, for example Orlando and Richard Greene were still around but not Pope. (In more modern stories e.g. The Time Travellers Wife there is an attempt to explain). I could only see it as Orlando being perhaps the spirit of literature throughout the ages. . . or rather the mirror that reflects the spirit of the ages and that this role was also meant as a great compliment to Vita Sackville West.

 

 

Angel, I enjoyed all your comments on Orlando and you have made me reconsider some aspects I found confusing, thank you. I do like the thought of Orlando as a spirit of literature or of the age or a combination of both.  You have given a far kinder and more perceptive understanding of Virginia Woolfe's motives and aims in the book than I did, but I still cannot  warm to her writing style. I believe she was influenced by the rather elitist attitudes  of the  'Bloomsbury Set' she mixed with, also typical of that age.

 

meg, the book I read  is a large print copy , published 1994 and the n word is definitely still there.

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Almost halfway now. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that, by the time I got to it, I wasn't at all surprised that the first gender change isn't accompanied by an explanation other than a purely mystical one.

 

I am reading a copy published in 1975, and just before the 'love of literature' passage VW refers to the 'slicing at the Moor's head' mentioned at the start of chapter 1. She uses the 'n' word, and I'm curious to know if a little censoring has taken place in more recent editions. Can anyone reading a C21 copy check that bit?

I'm reading a Kindle edition published in 2012 and it's there.

 

.Mine doesn't. I'm not quite sure whereabouts you are referring to and I don't have page numbers to check but I did look and I would have remembered had I seen it the first time round anyway. My copy claims to be the full text and published this year.

I kind of agree with some of the points made about ereaders eg. not so easy to know where you are in the book, chapter heads and so on, but on this particular question, it took less than ten seconds to do a search for the word and get a list of the two occasions where it appears.

 

I remember trying to work out if that was supposed to be Virginia Woolf's language or Orlando's. What do you think?

I'm pretty sure it's VW's language.

 

I'm glad it hasn't been censored out of all later editions. Yes, times and attitudes change, and some things which aren't offensive become offensive later. When that happens, earlier works should still be judged according to what was written at the time. Who decides what should be censored out of later editions anyway? This to be honest is one of my main concerns about ebooks in general - that when there are no paper copies out there, it will be much easier to change Mahon copies of a text, for nefarious reasons.

Edited by waawo

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I kind of agree with some of the points made about ereaders eg. not so easy to know where you are in the book, chapter heads and so on, but on this particular question, it took less than ten seconds to do a search for the word and get a list of the two occasions where it appears.

I had no idea that you could do a search on an ebook and having just figured out how to do this have found that it's in mine too, twice. I thought that I'd remember something like that anyway, clearly not. Thanks for letting me know and apologies for the inconvenience.

 

 

I'm glad it hasn't been censored out of all later editions. Yes, times and attitudes change, and some things which aren't offensive become offensive later. When that happens, earlier works should still be judged according to what was written at the time. Who decides what should be censored out of later editions anyway? This to be honest is one of my main concerns about ebooks in general - that when there are no paper copies out there, it will be much easier to change Mahon copies of a text, for nefarious reasons.

I'm glad too and have the same concerns

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I had no idea that you could do a search on an ebook and having just figured out how to do this have found that it's in mine too, twice.

One of the things that ebooks can do better than regular books :)

 

I'm glad too and have the same concerns

I think the most worrying thing is that many of the perceived issues with ebooks - that have been debated long and often - are being gradually ironed out, so that ebooks will eventually be able to anything that regular books can do. When that time comes, the danger will be that publishers and media types (and governments?) will start to focus more on what ebooks can do that regular books have never been able to do, like change history perhaps?

 

ETA: This strand probably belongs more in the ebooks vs real books thread!

Edited by waawo

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ETA: This strand probably belongs more in the ebooks vs real books thread!

 

I'd agree, but it evolves out of Orlando discussion and it's hard to find a starting point which wouldn't detract from the overall discussion by removing it.  Hasn't gone on for long, so probably best to leave it.  But if there are issues people would like to carry on chatting about in relation to the e-reader angle, best to take it there.

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Almost halfway now. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that, by the time I got to it, I wasn't at all surprised that the first gender change isn't accompanied by an explanation other than a purely mystical one

Got to say that, in contrast to my underwhelmedness at the first gender change, I absolutely loved the device of sailing up river to central London, describing the scenery, to introduce the first time skip. :)

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I still cannot  warm to her writing style. I believe she was influenced by the rather elitist attitudes  of the  'Bloomsbury Set' she mixed with, also typical of that age.

 

 

Yes, I agree to that.

 

I’m afraid that I was put off, before I even started the novel, by reading the preface with the long list of credits. Recognizing some of the names, I looked up the rest and, of course, they were practically all ‘Cambridge Apostles’, ‘Bloomsbury’ or both. Those who were not from these groups were famous enough to be name-dropped.  I’ve never been a fan of any secret society or indeed any society where one has to be proposed by another, especially when it’s a group of people who think they are better than others. When I first heard of the Bloomsbury group I imagined a creative atmosphere where one encouraged another, but I get more of an impression of people indulging their own whims and putting others down. When looking up Frank Laurence Lucas, one of the people Virginia Woolf thanks, I found that Wiki quotes him as saying,

 

 “They were intensely and rudely critical of each other. They were the sort of people who would read letters addressed to others. They tormented each other with endless love affairs. In real crises they could be generous, but in ordinary affairs of life they were anything but kind ... Dickinson and Forster were not really Bloomsbury. They were soft-hearted and kind. Bloomsbury was certainly not that."

 

We see echoes of all this in the people and their socializing in Orlando. The authors seem self-occupied and although they meet together don’t support each other.

 

I’ve never written a book, but I would expect to have to research and check things. I imagine this novel to have been researched in conversations at dinner parties and soirees.

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...........................but I get more of an impression of people indulging their own whims and putting others down.

 

 

 

I agree, and I know this has influenced my reading of Orlando.

  

"Bloomsbury paints in circles, lives in squares and loves in triangles"  -   attributed to Dorothy Parker . :)

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"Bloomsbury paints in circles, lives in squares and loves in triangles"  -   attributed to Dorothy Parker . :)

 

I like it.

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Despite this not being an easy book to read I am still enjoying it. When I say 'easy' I man that there is so much in it I find myself reading even slower than usual so that I can take in all her nuances.

 

Meg's reference to VW's comment on her readership struck me the same way. My take on it was humourous. I love the way in Chapter II she almosts abuses the reader for making assumptions about characters (in this case in a biography) that are just not there in the written work. On page 43 of my Virago copy, I quote "can see, often when we say nothing about it, exactly what he looked like; know without a word to guide them precisely what he thought - and it is for readers such as these that we write" and continutes "it is plain then to such a reader that Orlando was strangely compounded of many humours ..." I just think she is very tongue-in-cheek using this style. I find myself reading with a smile on my face most of the time.

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 ..." I just think she is very tongue-in-cheek using this style. I find myself reading with a smile on my face most of the time.

 

I'd agree with that BarbB - I think she was having a bit of fun amidst all her lavish descriptions - it just wore thin with me and I became impatient (an unfortunate character trait). :rolleyes:

Edited by momac

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A curious thing - I just renewed Orlando with the library in case I wanted to finish the last part of the book.  :unsure:

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