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Comment: Pages are smooth and clear, with minimal folds or creases. Faint smudging on book edges. Minor page curl. Free of any markings or labels. Minor to moderate surface and edge wear to cover includes rubbing to edges. *** Ships from Amazon! Thanks!
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Orlando (Annotated): A Biography Paperback – July 3, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Undoubtedly Virginia Woolf’s most intense and one of the most singular (novels) of our era."--Jorge Luis Borges

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.

About the Author

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882–1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (July 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156031515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031516
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
In her most playful and exuberant novel, Virginia Woolf writes the "historical biography" of Orlando, a young boy of nobility during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. A wild ride through four centuries, the novel shows Orlando aging, magically, only thirty-six years between 1588 and 1928. Even more magically, he also changes from a man to a woman. As she explores Orlando's life, Woolf also explores the differing roles of men and women in society during various periods, ultimately concluding that one's role as a man or woman is determined by society, rather than by birth.

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.
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Format: Paperback
No lover in the world ever wrote a valentine more exquisite than Virginia Woolf's tribute to her lover Vita Sackville-West. That tribute was "Orlando: A Biography," a magical-realism tale about a perpetually youthful, charming hero/ine who traverses three centuries and both genders -- and Woolf's writing reaches a new peak as she explores the hauntingly sensuous world of Orlando.

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.
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Format: Paperback
A fine work of scholarship with a very thorough-going introduction that has much to say about the context and content of the work. The endnotes tend to be very helpful for providing context in even greater detail. I wish they would have been footnotes, but... oh, well...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'll often buy a premium kindle edition of a book that I could otherwise get for a much cheaper price, to get a well-designed reading experience, paragraphs that look like paragraphs, and perhaps some useful scholarship in introductions and annotations. Generally I'm trying to avoid the kind of type layout where there is a blank line between non-indented paragraphs, which is very common in free editions. Hack-job introductions are also a turn-off.
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.
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