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The Waves [Paperback]

Virginia Woolf
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book by Woolf, Virginia

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First Sentence
The sun had not yet risen. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Astounding Book Oct. 24 2001
This book is without a doubt the best book I have ever read. It is based in the early 20th century in London and the surrounding counties. It is divided by short passages describing the sun rising and falling, which are described in language which corresponds to the 6 narrator's increasing level of understanding about the world. At the beginning (when the 6 are in nursery school) the language is very symbolic and full of physical observation, which progresses to more socially aware language as their lives and their own understanding of the world increases. The events in the book are never described in a third person style, but are told as interpretations from the character's own viewpoints. The progression in the book is subtle and very moving, and I found at times that reading this book was like reading my own thoughts, so lyrically is the writing. The contrast in style and outlook between the 6 characters is well defined, but keeps the vibrancy of description and lyrical prose style throughout. This book is quite difficult to read, as the language and feelings of the characters can have priority over traditional descriptions of events in the book, but then it is so rewarding to read, that you won't care! I have been looking for a long time for a book that matches this in terms of vision and emotional depth, but have yet to find it either in contemporary or more traditional authors. I have read this book twice, and found it to be a more fulfilling experience the second time around, as my understanding of the world increased, so did my understanding of the character's feeling within the book. In short, a mind-blowing read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Incredible June 6 2004
By A Customer
In my opinion, The Waves is the best English Novel ever written. Through this novel, Woolf solves one of the main problems of modern writing -- the problem of subjectivity, namely, how can we connect with other people in a real way, if we are limited by our own conscious experience. In the Waves, Woolf helps us transcend our own consciousness, helps us break down the divisions between ourselves and the rest of the world through her use of language.
In The Waves, Woolf does not merely drop us into the consciousness of her characters. For example, the language at the beginning of the novel describing the very first sensory experiences of each of her characters, is too complex for a new born infant. Instead, Woolf uses sophisticated language to place the reader in the same mindset as each character, and in doing so the reader comes to have direct experience of another person outside of themselves.
Every sentence in this book describes something real and true about the world. She puts voice to experience that I didn't know that I had. She communicates the very hardness of communicating and she does it beautifully. This book changed my whole life.
The Waves is definitely a challenging read, but well worth it. I believe that anyone can enjoy this book if they are willing to put in the effort. Read it -- you will thank yourself.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Waves has ups & downs ... -- ha! ; ) Dec 12 2001
Virgie was a rare poetic master. Consider The Waves a maximization of those frilly words. They clothe the concept novel purely based upon six character soliloquies. The events are thus reflectively bounded by "their" intermingled perceptions. The prospect is undoubtedly intriguing, but her application proved to be a tad too much for me to endure for very long. I'm usually in favor of highly imaginative writing and casting practicality aside; but alas, my realism kicked in. Within this impressionistic discourse, it is all too obvious that everyone's perceptions are pure Virigina Woolf, regardless her constructs of mood and motivation. This makes it all too "unbelievable" to consider the thought that these men and women, beginning in their youths, are all given to *precisely* the same style of flowery, verbal introspection. Ironically, this expansive, multiplicative approach actually gives a more one-dimensional feel due to that intimate profusion ultimately originating from a single human being! (Although, perhaps a writer need have multiple personalities to implement such an intensely intimate yet scattered task?!) Am I bashing the omniscient perspective completely? No. I believe it is the intensity of this work accorded to its particular design that has revealed this perspective's best limit. Some avid fans apparently can suspend that judgment and endure it on poetic and innovative merit alone (by innovative, I mean *anything* new). I, however, could only reduce my intake to samplings of her basic style. A few moments are surely somewhat enjoyable. "Endurance" reading is what causes the book to falter. As balanced, The Waves is a series of pointed crests and weary troughs, excessively decorated on perhaps too implausible a concept.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A challenge,but worth it! Oct. 12 2000
I loved this book, for both what it says - about life, time and relationships - and for how it says it. It is also true, though, that it is one of her less accessible works, and can occasionally be frustrating in its vagueness. To anyone considering buying this book, DO - it's worth it - 2 things that I learnt, though:
1. This is probably not good as an introduction to Virginia Woolf, modernism or 'stream of consciousness' writing - it may be a good idea to read "To The Lighthouse" first.....
2. If you're a genuis or an English teacher you may understand this right off, I don't know - but for the rest of us, I think that it's worth a second read, the first to feel the rhythm, and the second to actually understand the message (if that doesn't sound too ridiculous!) - otherwise it is easy to get bogged down and frustrated, as I did it the first time I read it. Every time I reread this book, I discover something new, despite the fact that spent almost a month studying it in depth....
Good luck!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enduring monologues are presented with rhythm and impact
Expertly read by Frances Jeater and superbly enhanced with classical music, The Waves is the succinctly abridged and highly recommended CD audiobook rendition of Virginia Woolf's... Read more
Published on May 8 2004 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - Woolf is a master
When you hear about this book, the story of several people told in thier own soliloques, from birth to death, from morning to evening, you think that it must be confusing to read. Read more
Published on June 26 2001 by Southern Bard
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Drownng, Waving
My exploration of Virginia Woolf has been a progression from To the Lighthouse to Orlando to The Waves. Read more
Published on June 18 2001 by Rhetorick
5.0 out of 5 stars soliloquy
'The Waves' is a sublime and gentle book full of diversity of V.Wolf's troubled life. I find this book very soothing at the same time and there is a certain continuity in it too. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2000 by "rennee"
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally draining to say the least
I had never read a book like this one. It made me feel like the bathwater after someone has pulled the plug. This is partly because of the unusual construction of the story. Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2000 by "thirteenthfairy"
5.0 out of 5 stars wAvEs of emotion disolving the "I"
You have never read a book like this. But don't let that intimidate. This is her most experimental work, but it is still much more accesible than many other modernists. Read more
Published on June 16 2000 by Buzz Advert
5.0 out of 5 stars So good , I'll read it again!
Harold Bloom (literary critic) put "The Waves" on his list of books that are worth reading and rereading. I heartily agree. Read more
Published on May 22 2000 by Cynthia Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
I was lucky enough to find a first edition of this book (1931) in a used bookstore. It was a gift for my wife's birthday. Read more
Published on May 9 2000 by Robert Reed
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the (considerable) effort
I must say, as a big Woolf fan, that this one was slow going at first. But persevere! It went from a book I thought I'd never finish to one that I'm certain I will read again and... Read more
Published on May 6 2000
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