Orlando Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Orlando's gender alteration is naturally the central event of his preternaturally long life, but his aging only twenty years over a course of three centuries is certainly no less bizarre. To describe the circumstances under which he becomes a woman or explain the logic by which he ages so slowly would be giving away too much in this review, nor would it really help to recommend the novel to one who is not yet persuaded to read it, so I will be silent on that account, saying only that these outrageous devices fully succeed as vehicles to explore Woolf's theme of femininity with respect to English cultural and historical frames of reference.
The novel examines the effect of gender alteration on Orlando's amorous and professional capacities. As a young nobleman in the Elizabethan court whose interests are swordsmanship and poetry, he is engaged to an aristocratic Irish girl, has a torrid affair with a Russian princess, and meets a silly woman who, resembling nothing so much as a hare, calls herself the Archduchess Harriet. After serving as an ambassador in Turkey, Orlando becomes a woman, joins a band of gypsies, and returns to England where he (she) must handle the legalities regarding his dukeship because of his new gender. As a woman, he manages to gain the romantic attentions of famous writers like Pope, Dryden, and Swift before eventually marrying and having a son. Some surprises ensue, but let it suffice to say that Orlando is not the only androgynous character in the novel.
An underlying, and highly controversial, implication is that every human being harbors aspects of both genders, mainly psychological, but Woolf goes so far as to make them physical in order to press the point. Although the idea may seem tame now, "Orlando" may have set a precedent for cross-gender role-playing when it was first published in 1928. The novel is very much ahead of its time; it has a sort of nonchalant sophistication that characterizes the type of magical realism that was to become a large part of European-influenced literature throughout the rest of the twentieth century. My admiration for Virginia Woolf only increases with each novel of hers that I read, and "Orlando" is in my opinion the best yet.
Charles Dickens book "Great Expectations" in which he said
that that book was the first book he had ever read that he
wished he had written. For me the first book that I had read that I wished
I had written is "Orlando" by Virgina Woolf. It blew me
away. I had seen the movie version a few years ago, and
recently found it in a bookstore, so I decided to check it out.
It's subtitle is "A Biography" and although it is based (very
loosely, I'm sure) on someone's actual life, it becomes clear
to the reader that this is definitely a work of fiction.
The reason that I enjoyed it so much is, well, let me put it
this way...Charles Dickens and John Irving were and are storytellers,
very wonderful, brilliant storytellers, but Virgina Woolf is (well, was)
an amazing artist. I don't go for poetry that much, I'm a prose
kind of guy, but "Orlando" for me, was the very best kind of poetry but
written as a narrative. Read this book. And let me know what you think...
Oh the Glawr!
A note on the Kindle editions: I purchased this one for $.99 though I also saw another one with the same cover but for approximately $3.99.
There wasn't enough information for me to be able to tell if there was any difference however, there is so much critique and commentary written on "Orlando" that I don't see the need to pay for something I can simply Google rather than have it added onto to the book for 10 times what I paid for this book.