About the BookThe Waves by Virginia Woolf
The Waves is Virginia Woolf’s most audacious exploration of the possibilities of the novel form. Instead of narrating her characters’ outward actions, Woolf enters their minds and reports their thoughts and perceptions as they occur, with few external clues to provide shape or context. She builds her characters from the inside out, and one of the concerns of the novel is the way individual personalities and sensibilities are shaped by relationships with others.
The Waves is a portrait of the intertwined lives of six friends—Bernard, Neville, Louis, Jinny, Susan, and Rhoda. The novel is divided into nine sections. The first section deals with early morning, or childhood, when the six main characters are attending a day-school together. The second section deals with adolescence and the third section traces the characters through young adulthood. The fourth section centers on a dinner party, meant to honor Percival, who is leaving for a position in the colonial government in India. The fifth section takes place not long after the dinner party, when the friends have learned that Percival has been killed in India. In the sixth section, the characters have entered full maturity. The seventh section deals with midlife, as the characters begin to age and in the eighth section the friends once again gather for a dinner. The ninth and final section is told entirely from Bernard’s point of view, who tries to give a “summing up” of his life.
About the AuthorVirginia Woolf was one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century. She is considered one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century, and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. She has written modernist classics, including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando, as well as pioneering feminist works, like A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas.