by Virginia Woolf
Title available in paperback?: Yes
Description of book:
Subtitled "A Biography," Orlando was published in 1928, and reflects in oblique ways the mood and mind of the war-scarred but exuberant times. While it is not considered one of her major novels today, it is Woolf's most penetrating scrutiny of gender. Her agent and central character, Orlando, modelled after one of her more controversial friends, Vita Sackville-West, experiences life from two different perspectives, living first as a man (Ambassador Extraordinary Orlando) and then (through a sudden transformation) as a female (Lady Orlando). As a man, Orlando meets the notable figures of the Elizabethan age; once changed to a woman, she spends a fascinating time in the 18th century, having conversations with Pope, Swift, Addison, etc. Eventually, Orlando enters modern society, where she has the final experience: childbirth.
The novel is interesting because of its its time-machine qualities, as well as its representation of famous writers of the past, but is not always a "fun" read. There's serious self-searching about the paradoxes of sexuality and androgyny. (A film version of the novel was made a couple of years ago, but I confess I haven't seen it.)
Description of book submitted by Dr. Eileen Bender, English
Reviews/Articles/Publisher Information with more about the title:
Harcourt Trade Publishers. Orlando. URL.