To The Lighthouse & WWI

To the Lighthouse is the one Virginia Woolf novel I’ve read that seems to present the war in a fairly broad and historical perspective – certainly more so than the other stuff I’ve read of hers in the past, anyway. The perspective is interesting, especially when connecting it to her stream of consciousness writing style. The first section “The Window” being set before the war, not much chaos or havoc has ensued yet but still a lot is going on (if a lot wasn’t going on, Woolf probably would not have written 100+ pages for that section). With their being a story to tell of the Ramsay family and other characters in question here, Woolf would probably need to make use of multiple perspectives. All seems peaceful, and then suddenly, Time Passes, and with the passage of time, there is presence of war. 

In the second section of the novel, “Time Passes”, the Ramsay residence has apparently been empty for a decade, but more importantly, the war still is happening France. In parantheses Woolf records the deaths of three major characters, one of which is Andrew Ramsay, whose death is recorded as: “[A Shell exploded. Twenty or thirty young men were blown up in France, among them Andrew Ramsay, whose death, mercifully, was instantaneous.]”, which presents a bit of irony – and “twenty or thirty” suggests that there was such high disregard for individuals and their names, because in death they merely become simple statistics. 

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