Orlando: A Biography

Orlando: A Biography - Virginia Woolf

December 4, 2015

This time I read the book aloud, my partner had never read any Virginia Woolf before and has the tendency to fall asleep when reading anything that doesn't relate to work. During the course of the novel I, of course, lost track of many sentences, lost breath after third semicolons and sometimes hopelessly mangled pronunciations of words I had never in my life said aloud.

Woolf's work shined through even my fumblings. Orlando's journey to become an artist was as much an adventure as it ever was.

May 30, 2011


I am swept away by Woolf's writing. Truly. I don't understand how I was able to accept reading only excerpts of this for class, not insisting on seeing it through. College is good for many things, but sometimes books should just be handed out in time-locked boxes ready to spring open when your life has a particular gap in it ready to be filled with pages like these.

Woolf blends history, fantasy, philosophy and all the tropes of biography to create this funny and beautiful story. I never thought Woolf would be funny. My perception of her comes from sad-eyed photographs, snippets of her writing (which does not benefit from snipping) and how she killed herself. But what comes out of this book here is good humor and sheer love of creation, specifically writing.

Its true the most vivid scenes are of the Elizabethan court and the great frost during King James' reign, and the chill confines of the 19th century. The strongest messages are there. The whole of the story is a great read though. I gather that her other books are not so light-hearted as this one, but I look forward to reading them.

Edit: I'm actually mad at myself. Not livid, but mildly angry that I can't convey in words just how much I enjoyed this book, what I suspect its going to mean to me down the road.

'Orlando' is pure genius, daring and wholly original. Maybe next time I'll get my act together and do this book justice.