And there it is. I can’t say that I “appreciate” this novel yet. I can admire the skill with which it is written. I can praise the skillful use of stream-of-consciousness. I can even laud Woolf’s confidence in her reader’s ability to have the intelligence to get what she’s doing and to trust her fully. But can I say I like this novel upon first reading it? No. I really cannot.
I like some of the characters—Bernard and Jinny most especially. Perhaps because I feel that I know them best. Perhaps Neville too. I like the symbolism of the waves—the impermanence of being, the way thoughts and relationships ebb and flow. There is so much to praise it almost feels anathema to not just say “Wonderful” and move on.
But the truth is, I don’t believe this book can be read once and appreciated. Not by me, at any rate. I shall absolutely read it again and with pleasure, with a curious desire to let the evocative voices weave themselves into my skin. There may be many books one wants to reread because they were so much fun to read the first time around. There may be books one wants to reread because they have a familiarity of person or place that appeals. This novel demands to be read just to be better understood. It left me feeling washed ashore with no bearings and eager to dive back in as soon as I was done.
Rereading will have to wait for another time. As always, I already have other books demanding and deserving my attention.
This book is part of the Books I Should Have Read By Now Challenge because I read an excerpt from chapter one in my British Literature class way back in 1997 or 1998. I fell immediately in love with what Woolf was doing and said, “I really need to read this book.” I’m glad I finally have! This is also, obviously, a part of the Classics Bribe. As you can tell, I’m having fun with these challenges (and maybe I’m pondering creating one of my own).