Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Radical Approach to Reality in To the Lighthouse


Virginia Woolf takes a radical departure from the Victorian novel in her book To the Lighthouse. Victorian novels tend to see stories from a single character’s perspective or in the tradition of the Victorian novelists from the author’s own perspective. 

Toward the end of the novel, Lily reflects that in order to see Mrs. Ramsay character completely—she would need at least fifty pairs of eyes; only then would she understand  every possible angle and nuance. The accumulation of different, even opposing vantage points provides an aggregate truth. The story supports Lily’s assertion. The world is created by an accumulation of perceptions.

This experimentation and description of the aggregated inner thoughts and minds of the characters is new and daring and is further developed in The Waves.