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A novel by V. Woolf, published 1931, and regarded by many as her masterpiece.

It traces the lives of a group of friends (Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis) from childhood to late middle age, evoking their personalities through their reflections on themselves and on one another. Their individuality is presented through a highly patterned sequence of recurring phrases and images, and what we learn of their daily lives (that Susan marries a farmer, that Bernard's ambitions as a writer are disappointed, that Louis becomes a man of power and wealth) we learn obliquely. The main text is introduced and divided by sections of lyrical prose describing the rising and sinking of the sun over a seascape of waves and shore. There is one additional character, Percival: his death in India, half‐way through the novel, becomes the focus for fears and defiance of death and mortality. One of the dominant images of the novel, used by phrasemaker Bernard, is that of a fin breaking from the water; this was, as Woolf's diary reveals, her starting‐point for the work.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Virginia Woolf (1882—1941) writer and publisher

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