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The Waves Paperback – January 1, 1950
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Top Customer Reviews
No one speaks in this book. You follow the characters' lives from childhood to adulthood by entering their minds and listening to their thoughts. At first it is difficult to figure out what is going on. There is no narration except short poetic passages about the sea and the sun's placement over it preceding each section of the book (and each period of the characters' lives). By the middle of the book, you know who is speaking without reading the name of the character. You know how they think.
I strongly encourage anyone who is even slightly curious to buy this book. This small investment can change how you view the world. The Waves takes much longer to get through than some whodunit, but that's the beauty of it. My husband and I read a passage at night before going to bed. It's best when read slowly, with time to reflect after a small amount of pages. You'll be highlighting sentences that make great quotes as you go. What a glorious book!
The whole text is entirely soliloquys in the first person. No 3rd person description, no omniscient narrator, just the opening of quotation marks, one of the few characters begins to speak, then the ending of quotation marks... beginning once more with the opening quotation marks for the next speaker's soliloquy, and so on and on in waves of thought.
We follow each speaker from early childhood to old age, and we know them intimately by the book's end. Give the book a chance; at first I could only take three or four *pages* at a time, but also looked forward to these few pages every day. Later, I could easily read more and more, and truly the experience was like "waves" of life, lapping over my consciousness.
If you like unique "novels," e.g. Nabokov's Pale Fire (although different it's unique too), this is a must-have. There's nothing else like it, even in Virginia Woolf's body of work.
If you can't take the full load of first-person consciousness, but like her dreamy style, then go for her book of short stories. But I recommend keeping the book, and treating yourself, a few pages at a time... you too will feel at the end of a magnificent life's journey by time you follow each character's thoughts to the end.
I consider this to be Woolf's greatest work. Mrs. Dalloway may be a more pleasurable read and more consistently a "masterpiece", but the Waves is often so intense and beautiful that it's devastating. In fact, there are times that one is a bit overwhelmed by the surfeit of emotion, poetic words, unremitting interiority.
My Woolf pix in order: 1. Waves 2. Dalloway 3. Jacob's Room 4. A Room of One's Own 5. Orlando
I personally feel that To the Lighthouse is more of a work to be appreciated than liked--it's simply too refined. And I couldn't make it through Between the Acts--too many upper class English people sitting around a table in the country sipping tea and performing their subtle, boring manners.
Wait, I can't end on a sour note: Woolf is a bloody delight!
Just like many other works by Virginia Woolf, there were moments when I was absolutely swept away by the depth of her narrative and the poignancy of her descriptions. Put simply, she blows my mind and this is why I continue to read her. However, I often wonder if the subconscious mind babble that we encounter everyday is worth repeating. Perhaps there is a reason why we have public presentations and filter out much of what we typically are thinking. Therefore, my response to this novel is undecided. Upon finishing the novel, renditions of Shakespeare's "To be or not to be?" ran through my head. I find Woolf's characters and their ambiguous identities and feelings to be confusing and I feel frustrated by their inability to provide me with an answer to the great questions of life. Of course, I realize that life is supposedly more about the questions than the answers and if the goal of good writing it to provoke conversation and thought, Virginia Woolf certainly has done that here. If the purpose of reading is to somehow see ourselves and our struggles reflected in someone else's writing, then Woolf has accomplished that much. Nevertheless, I found the novel to be frustrating in that Woolf provides very little direction or resolution for the reader. I felt as if I was left hanging in so many ways.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one long beautiful poem. Though not intended as a poem, it is among the most beautiful and evocative prose I have ever read.Published 8 hours ago by Rebecca Askew
I gave up a long time ago trying to understand the too complex plots of Virginia Wolf, so I appreciate her sentences, some of which are unforgettable, and I think about some of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gonza
Simply wonderful.....almost there is no plot at all, but this is beyond plot , it s pure poetry absolutely enchanting and original!Published 3 months ago by marco pucci
Monologues spoken by 6 characters, 3 female, 3 male, who divulge their lives from from beginning to end... no big deal... Read morePublished 4 months ago by RhiannonReads
I expect to re-read “The Waves” (1931), in part because its (Modernist) difficulty is likely to release new meanings, rather than confirm assumptions or provide reassurance, but... Read morePublished 5 months ago by DT
The physical copy itself had a bunch of pages sticking out from the side? I'm guessing the pages were not cut very well.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Personally, I really enjoyed this work, but it won't ever be one of those universally loved works. In some ways it is like blissful torture to read. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Sergiu Pobereznic (author)
I have yet to read anything as brilliant and eloquent and will surely reread. I agree with the theory that Bernard was a manifestation of the other characters and this made it all... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Elizabeth Brown