Modernist Novels, in the times these were modern, were different in tone and nature. However, today, their worth and appeal have changed dramatically. It is because of time and space relation – naturally. What I see today as modern will be seen as ancient by the next generation. However, in terms of literature, there is a category that we call ‘evergreen’ and that makes space for the personalities like Shakespeare, Eliot (T S) and Dante. To be certain and to ascertain my idea, I will frankly say that Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse is not an evergreen novel. It was in the flux with the avant-garde that was popular those days.
The novel has certainly an everlasting, uneasy appeal about it that has maintained the interest level of the academicians in To The Lighthouse. It begins almost abruptly and ends with a soothing effect that the author tried her best to generate throughout the novel but could only achieve it to the maximum at the end of the novel with Lily Briscoe finishing her painting that she has long ago thought of, at the beginning of the novel itself – in between, many years passed.
The novel has been written with the stream of consciousness at the centre of the plot. Plot? Really? Seldom a plot so flexible is found in the novels that we read from the century passed – the 20th-century. Virginia Woolf was at the centre of the happenings during the initial years of the 20th-century and she quickly mastered the art of storytelling be entering into the very conscious of the characters she portrayed. She has fused the years of war, the years of restlessness and also the years of anxiety in To The Lighthouse, certainly a timely novel for the audience of that decade in the 20th-century.
Today, this novel is not very relevant except in the academic circles. Students and professors (higher studies) indulge with this stupendous and excelling novel (with limits) by Virginia Woolf. However, it does not have the charm to attract a casual reader of contemporary times. It lacks the humane touch. It lacks a universal appeal. It was perfectly in synchronisation with the time of its rise (and subsequently, its fall). It has a language that is deeper than the usual language, and not for the readers of fiction written by Chetan Bhagat (in India) and El James (internationally). So, be sure of yourself before you begin reading this novel by Woolf. All the best!
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by Randeep Pathak for Indian Book Lovers
To the Lighthouse202 Rs
Narrative & Plot2.5/5
Ease of Reading2.0/5
IBL Influence Rating3.5/5
- Imaginative Strength
- Strong Narrative
- Epitome of Stream of Consciousness Style
Could be Better
- Uninteresting Storyline
- Uncontemporary Set-up
- Unpopular Today