The Voyage Out (Dover Value Editions)

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9780486450056: The Voyage Out (Dover Value Editions)

"A strange, tragic, inspired novel . . . as poignant as anything in modern fiction." — E. M. Forster
This acclaimed novel marked the debut of one of the twentieth century's most brilliant and important writers. In Virginia Woolf's captivating exploration of a young woman's growing self-awareness, the events of a shipboard journey to South America parallel the naive heroine's inner quest. Her experiences, from a first kiss to a surprising flowering of real love, may inspire the reader to reflect on gender roles in society, love among intellectuals, and the strivings and sorrows of life.
The Voyage Out offers an excellent introduction to Woolf's writing. Not only is it the first of her novels, it is also one of the most accessible. Less formally experimental than Woolf's later books, but highly representative of her poetic style and innovative techniques, it offers a moving depiction of the thrills and confusion of youth.

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From the Inside Flap:

The Modern Library is proud to include Virginia Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out--together with a new Introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham. Published to acclaim in England in 1915 and in America five years later, The Voyage Out marks Woolf's beginning as one of the twentieth century's most brilliant and prolific writers.
Less formally experimental than her later novels, The Voyage Out none-theless clearly lays bare the poetic style and innovative technique--with its multiple figures of consciousness, its detailed portraits of characters' inner lives, and its constant shifting between the quotidian and the profound--that are the signature of Woolf's fiction.
Rachel Vinrace, Woolf's first heroine, is a motherless young woman who, at twenty-four, embarks on a sea voyage with a party of other English folk to South America. Guileless, and with only a smattering of education, Rachel is taken under the wing of her aunt Helen, who desires to teach Rachel "how to live."Arriving in Santa Marina, a village on the South American coast, Rachel and Helen are introduced to a group of English expatriates. Among them is the young, sensitive Terence Hewet, an aspiring writer, with whom Rachel falls in love. But theirs is ultimately a tale of doomed love, set against a chorus of other stories and other points of view, as the narrative shifts focus between its central and peripheral characters. E. M. Forster praised The Voyage Out as "a book which attains unity as surely as "Wuthering Heights, though by a different path."
This edition includes a new Introduction by Michael Cunningham, bestselling author of "The Hours. Cunningham at once unfolds an engaging shortessay of Woolf's early life and career, an insightful exploration of the themes to which Woolf returns again and again in her fiction, and a spirited defense of the relevance and lasting importance of her art. Katherine Anne Porter wrote of Woolf: "The world of arts was her native territory; she ranged freely under her own sky, speaking her mother tongue fearlessly."

From the Back Cover:

The Shakespeare Head Press Edition of The Voyage Out is based on a careful consideration of all the versions of the text published during Woolf's lifetime and an examination of a privately-owned copy that Woolf herself marked for revision.

First novels often reveal the conflicting ambitions that are less apparent, if no less influential, in later works. Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out is no exception: it anticipates the themes and methods of her career. The long and difficult composition of the novel took place during the period when she married Leonard Woolf. The novel itself explores a young woman's first experience of adult love, and more specifically biographical speculations are encouraged by veiled allusions to Woolf's friends, family and their preoccupations.

But the novel is interesting not only as a biographical document or as a point of departure for Woolf's later works. The Voyage Out presents a thoughtful and distinctively modern analysis of personal and social possibilities. The story of Rachel Vinrace's discovery of a love that is neither reductively sexual nor archaically sentimental is set against the precise delineation of a variety of private lives and social relationships.

In their introduction the editors explore Woolf's adaptation of traditional forms to express innovative themes and attitudes and show how the novel prefigures Woolf's later concern with the connections between art and life. The text is supplemented by detailed annotations and an apparatus listing all variants and emendations.

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