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Orlando : A Biography

by
Edition:
Annotated
ISBN13:

9780156031516

ISBN10:
0156031515
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date:
7/3/2006
Publisher(s):
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
List Price: $15.95

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Summary

Begun as a "joke," Orlando is Virginia Woolf's fantastical biography of a poet who first appears as a sixteen-year-old boy at the court of Elizabeth I, and is left at the novel's end a married woman in the year 1928. Part love letter to Vita Sackville-West, part exploration of the art of biography, Orlando is one of Woolf's most popular and entertaining works. This new annotated edition will deepen readers' understanding of Woolf's brilliant creation.Annotated and with an introduction by Maria DiBattista

Author Biography

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century, transformed the art of the novel. The author of numerous novels, collections of letters, journals, and short stories, she was an admired literary critic and a master of the essay form.

Mark Hussey, general editor of Harcourt's new annotated Woolf series, is professor of English and women's and gender studies, and editor of the Woolf Studies Annual, at Pace University. He lives in Upper Nyack, New York.

Table of Contents

Preface
Virginia Woolf
Chronology
Introduction
Orlando
A Biography
Notes to Orlando
A Biography
Suggestions for Further Reading
Virginia Woolf Suggestions for Further Reading
Orlando
A Biography
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

CHAPTER ONEHEFOR THERE could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise itwas in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. It was the colour of an old football, and more or less the shape of one, save for the sunken cheeks and a strand or two of coarse, dry hair, like the hair on a cocoanut. Orlandos father, or perhaps his grandfather, had struck it from the shoulders of a vast Pagan who had started up under the moon in the barbarian fields of Africa; and now it swung, gently, perpetually, in the breeze which never ceased blowing through the attic rooms of the gigantic house of the lord who had slain him.Orlandos fathers had ridden in fields of asphodel, and stony fields, and fields watered by strange rivers, and they had struck many heads of many colours off many shoulders, and brought them back to hang from the rafters. So too would Orlando, he vowed. But since he was sixteen only, and too young to ride with them in Africa or France, he would steal away from his mother and the peacocks in the garden and go to his attic room and there lunge and plunge and slice the air with his blade. Sometimes he cut the cord so that the skull bumped on the floor and he had to string it up again, fastening it with some chivalry almost out of reach so that his enemy grinned at him through shrunk, black lips triumphantly. The skull swung to and fro, for the house, at the top of which he lived, was so vast that there seemed trapped in it the wind itself, blowing this way, blowing that way, winter or summer. The green arras with the hunters on it moved perpetually. His fathers had been noble since they had been at all. They came out of the northern mists wearing coronets on their heads. Were not the bars of darkness in the room, and the yellow pools which chequered the floor, made by the sun falling through the stained glass of a vast coat of arms in the window? Orlando stood now in the midst of the yellow body of an heraldic leopard. When he put his hand on the window-sill to push the window open, it was instantly coloured red, blue, and yellow like a butterflys wing. Thus, those who like symbols, and have a turn for the deciphering of them, might observe that though the shapely legs, the handsome body, and the well-set shoulders were all of them decorated with various tints of heraldic light, Orlandos face, as he threw the window open, was lit solely by the sun itself. A more candid, sullen face it would be impossible to find. Happy the mother who bears, happier still the biographer who records the life of such a one! Never need she vex herself, nor he invoke the help of novelist or poet. From deed to deed, from glory to glory, from office to office he must go, his scribe following after, till they reach what ever seat it may be that is the height of their desire. Orlando, to look at, was cut out precisely for some such career. The red of the cheeks was covered with peach down; the down on the

Excerpted from Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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