Unfortunately, I have never actually contributed before to a
discussion here but I want to share my experience with you.
when I first picked TTL I was 16, after around 30 pages I stopped. I
picked it up again and read it 2 years later. During these 2 years I
read "Mrs. Dalloway", a couple of short novels from "Monday or
Tuesday" and a substantial part of "night and day".
At first I felt exactly like many people here and I kept asking
myself how come that this is one of the greatest novels.. I am
certainly stupid ! (I still say the same thing about Ulysses!!) it
took me some time but later I realised that being introduced for the
first time to "Stream of Consciousness" TTL isn't exactly the
perfect start, in my opinion its much harder than Mrs. Dalloway
where at least something is happening.
"Stream of Consciousness" means to expect nothing to "happen"; rather
its about things going on around, novels are not action-packed but
they are intense. You have to understand that people's thoughts are
not always coherent, sequential, or causal. And that people are all
unhappy (lol, this one is a thought of mine).
It takes time, but once you "ride" the stream you will find yourself
flowing with the words, and actually in time you will start thinking
in weird ways about things around you: the hands of time and the
water dripping from the tap..lol
the best approach for reading a novel like this is to "Re-read" and
BE patient. (its only 220 pages) sometimes you will have to return
something like 10 pages back because you want to see how this thought
came about, or to go back a previous part to compare how different
people think about a certain thing. Sometimes there is no punctuation
a sentence could be 2 pages long, this tells you something about this
thought or idea, sometimes you have to read it out loud, because
often the language is poetic (in "the Waves" for example), Sometimes
you will feel that 2 or 3 characters are in fact one person. And you
have to feel the words .
The beautiful thing about her novels is that it will get you involved
trying to figure out what she meant or what she felt, and of course
everyone has a different viewpoint. which makes it interesting for
Its important also to read the introduction and the process of
writing the novel and if she had depression bouts during the writing.
A very important point, is that you have to read a little about VW's
biography and her relations with others around her. Most of her
characters are based on her impressions of other people : her father,
her sister, her husband or her friends like Vita-Sackville or herself
(which you will find a LOT ) this gives you insight about what she
wants to say or how she is actually feeling. I have always felt that
VW novels are ultimately about her.
Reading VW has helpt me in reading others writing the same style, for
example I found William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" much
easier, and this is a beautiful novel too and Marcel
Proust's "Remberance of things past" ( but this one i cant say
at all that it is easier). Actually in time you will find yourself
wanting to read more of "alternative" novels
a final thing, I have all her novels, I have not read them all yet,
but from what I read so far, I have found her a woman of very rare
and special genius. a beautiful person really. she's one of the few
writers ( and I read for MANY) who really touched me and changed the
way I think, and it wasn't from the first time, Just be Patient.
Right now I am reading "The Waves" which is much much harder
TTL, I hope I can read again TTL with you . I really hope that people
will enjoy reading VW.
is a brief biography. Actually you will find so many articles and
sites about her online.