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Orlando (Annotated): A Biography Paperback – July 3, 2006
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From the Back Cover
Begun as a "joke," Orlando is Virginia Woolf's fantastical biography of a poet who first appears as a sixteen-year-old boy at the court of Elizabeth I, and is left at the novel's end a married woman in the year 1928. Part love letter to Vita Sackville-West, part exploration of the art of biography, Orlando is one of Woolf's most popular and entertaining works. This new annotated edition will deepen readers' understanding of Woolf's brilliant creation.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century, transformed the art of the novel. The author of numerous novels, collections of letters, journals, and short stories, she was an admired literary critic and a master of the essay form.
Mark Hussey, general editor of Harcourt's annotated Woolf series, is professor of English at Pace University in New York City and editor of the Woolf Studies Annual.
Maria DiBattista, professor of English and comparative literature at Princeton University, has written numerous articles on modern literature and film. Her books include Virginia Woolf: The Fables of Anon, First Love: The Affections of Modern Fiction, and, as coeditor and contributor, High and Low Moderns: British Literature and Culture 1889-1939. Her most recent book is Fast Talking Dames.
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Top Customer Reviews
From the Elizabethan period, during which Orlando works as a steward for the queen and also serves as her lover, he progresses to the reign of James I, experiencing a profound love for a Russian princess, Sasha, who is herself exploring the role of a man. When the relationship ends, he retreats, devastated, to his estate, with its 365 rooms and 52 staircases, which he redecorates over the next few years. An interlude in which he is wooed by the Archduchess Harriet/Archduke Harry leads to his ambassadorship to Constantinople, a period spent with the gypsies, and his eventual return to England--as a woman. New experiences and observations await her there.
Throughout the novel, Woolf matches her prose style to the literary style of the period in which Orlando lives, creating always-changing moods and sheer delight for the reader. Some constants continue throughout the four centuries of Orlando's life. Orlando is always a writer, always recording his thoughts, and always adding to a poem he has begun as a child entitled "The Oak Tree." He is always returning to his 365-room house whenever he needs to recuperate from his experiences, and some characters repeat through time.Read more ›
Orlando was born a young aristocratic man in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and when the dying monarch visited his home she became his new court favorite (and briefly lover). His passionate, curious personality attracted many other women over the years -- until he fell in love with Sasha, a mercurial but faithless Russian princess (supposedly based on Sackville-West's ex-girlfriend). Bereft of true love, he devoted himself to poetry and entertainment.
But then he's assigned to be an ambassador to Constantinople, and something strange happens -- while a bloody revolution rages, he sleeps for a full week... and wakes newly metamorphosed into a woman. With the same mind and soul but a female body, Orlando sets out on a new life -- and discovers that women aren't quite as different from men as she once thought.
"Orlando: A Biography" is a very weird book, and was even more so when it was written since "magical realism" didn't exist as a literary style in 1928. Virginia Woolf makes no explanations about Orlando's immortality or unexpected gender switch. It's simply accepted that once he was a man, and then she became a woman, and that s/he has lived from the Elizabethan era until at least the 1920s (and who knows, maybe Orlando still wanders among us?).
And Woolf's writing is at its peak here.Read more ›
I bought the Harcourt/Harvest kindle edtion of "Orlando", edited by Mark Hussey, about three years ago, and I'm reading it now. It has way too many typos. There are dozens of times when "tl" becomes "d", so "title" becomes "tide", etc. Disappointing in what should be a quality edition. OCR with shoddy QC, perhaps.
Others have complained that the footnotes are not tied to the text. That's true, but it doesn't bother me much, since I just finished reading the Penguin Deluxe "Les Miserables", which did the same thing in a physical (non-kindle) book. Avoiding the intrusiveness of a bunch of superscripted endnotes: to me, that's a reasonable design choice.
Overall, this kindle edition of "Orlando" isn't really worth paying extra for, so I would recommend rummaging around among the cheaper editions before buying this one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very good edition of the Waves with intro., notes and the interludes in italics. The introduction is very helpful in getting one oriented to the book's unique features.Published 4 months ago by Anthony M. Bates
Interesting novel about the elusiveness of gender identity. That may sound boring, but Woolfe comments about it through Orlando in a humorous way.Published 9 months ago by Dee
Beautifully written and very enjoyable. It is a masterpiece.Published 18 months ago by Angeles Lagos
It is a great story, very abstract and surreal. I watched the movie, than I read this book. Fantastic!!!Published 21 months ago by Hui-ju Chen (Mickey)
While Orlando is probably not the best example of what would become Virginia Woolf's "music for the soul" style of writing, it does show her extraordinary wit better than... Read morePublished on June 12, 2014 by Rob Stauffer