‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

The Years by Virginia Woolf

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virginia20woolf20at20windowNow that I’ve had some time to digest Virginia Woolf’s The Years I have come to the conclusion that while very enjoyable there is something disagreeable about reading about the characters that she presents the readers. The novel follows a single family, the Pargiters. The novel begins in the year 1880 and spans the turn of the century up until “present day” which at the time of the publication of the novel is 1937.  As I’ve mentioned before there is nothing significant about any of these characters or their lives, in fact they are very self obsessed and arrogant in their concern and worries of their own lives and that is what I find to be difficult in reading these characters. Virginia steps back outside of these characters and we take that step with her. And with this outside view, the reader sees how our own lives match the lives presented in the book and this is not necessarily a great thing. Their obsession with the mundane goings on of their lives is just sad to me. 

The brilliance of the book I find is located in the way that Virginia weaves the changing world in the background, the introduction of the automobile, the world war, the changing face of communication [ telegraph, telephone ]. These are introduced in subtle ways that seamlessly interweave with the lives of the characters. 

I’ve read many of Virginia’s non-fiction and shorter fiction works but up until now I had not ventured into her novels. I think this is an amazing introduction into her work and if you have ever considered reading her work, this is a wonderful place to start. My only advice is to be patient as the novel is a bit heavy in that it drains you as you see bits of yourself in the lives of the characters she presents. If we all step back and look at the lives of people the way she does, stepping back and look at ourselves I think all of our lives seem to be petty and mundane. It does make you think though and reflect that we’re not so different as past generations, each new generation seems to distance itself from the previous, but what Virginia shows us is that we often have more in common than we’d like to admit.

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Written by thebeliever07

May 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm

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