Hello all! My name is Drew Blanchette. I'm 21 years old and a class member of the Virginia Woolf Seminar. First and foremost, I must warn potential viewers that I have no knowledge of Virginia Woolf's work. I am hoping that as the class progresses and I have a chance to read her apparently fabulous works (or so I have been told) I will develop some knowledge and appreciation. As my blogs increase perhaps the reader will pick up on my progression! Hopefully whoever looks over my site will enjoy my posts and not be too bored by my analyzing attempts. Thanks ahead of time for viewing my site!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Half of Orlando

In the introduction to our edition of Orlando it says that the story was written as part love letter to Vita. In some ways I suppose I see the romantic aspect. However, if it was my lover writing about me I think I would be highly offended to be Orlando. He/She (I will just refer to Orlando as a he for the rest of the post because he is mostly a male in the first half) is not a very faltering portrayal of a person. I couldn’t get over how privileged a life Orlando leads. He is so beautiful that wherever he goes things are handed to him and women fall in love with him. Even Queen Elizabeth is so enthralled with Orlando that she appoints him to a high place in court without him having to say a word. He has never had to work a day in his life. He stays locked up in his grand house away from society and spends his hours thinking because he has so much money. This laziness and perhaps dare I say, pointlessness is something only reserved to the fantastically rich of the world. Poor people, or even normal people can’t sit on a hill and wonder what the meaning of love, friendship, or life is forever because at one point we will starve! Virginia realizes this though and she has Orlando suffer for his riches. Orlando’s deepest yearning is to be a poet and be an amazing one at that. He wiles away hundreds of hours contemplating how to write the perfect prose. Yet, in the end, his writing isn’t worth much and Nick Greene laughs at him and writes his own poem at Orlando’s expense. The reader doesn’t necessarily feel sorry for Orlando because he hasn’t done enough in his life to actually be able to write about anything. To write, one must write what one knows, and to know something, then one must actually do something! His idleness has perhaps been his own downfall to his writing.
I really enjoyed the parts where Orlando would fall into a deep slumber that resemble something like a coma. There is a passage where the narrator philosophizes on why people, in general, need sleep. The narrator claims that sleep is the closest time we come to death while we are living. He (since we can suppose that the narrator is meant to be a man) says that when we sleep we actually die. The narrator claims that we need to die to get through our day to day lives. Without a peaceful pause we could not live. “Are we so made that we have to take death in small doses daily or we could not go on with the business of living?” I had never considered before sleeping as a practice towards death. I suppose if any wonders what it’s like to be dead they could just sleep for a while. Orlando does seem to die in some ways during his comatose sleeps. Whenever he wakens he enters into a new phase of his life. Could these sleeps be a metaphor for the different phases we all go through in our own lives? At some point every person has a transition period where the old self is shed off and we emerge as a better, more intelligent version.
In class we talked about catching the mood or essence of different ages. Before we had talked about that in class I remember reading the part where the narrator describes the Elizabethan era. The narrator describes it as if everything was more brilliant and colorful. “Sunsets were redder and more intense; dawns were whiter and more auroral.” Everything seemed to have intensity to it. It (and it could be anything) was either bold or it didn’t happen or exist. Of course, these descriptions of nature are not to be considered literally true. Things looked the same as they did now. The difference is the way that people perceived them. Everything we do and think and see are all matters of perspective. From the descriptions we realize that the people of that era had a zest and passion that governed their lives. It makes a modern reader jealous of that attitude. If we had to describe the modern era’s mood or perspective, I would say bored. Thanks to technology we are always waiting or wanting the next best thing. I bet Virginia would have had a field day with our time period.

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