Revisit perception and perspective in a guided reading of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. First published in 1927, Woolf's fifth novel is not only one of the most important works of early-20th-century Modernist literature, but also a deeply affecting portrait of a woman and a family beset by the forces of the modern world. Over the course of five weeks, we'll read this masterpiece together, and explore its sitting rooms and hidden byways in search of not just lessons we might use in our own lives as readers and writers of literature, but new ways of perceiving (for it is nothing if not a novel of perception) the world around us and ourselves.
We'll read about 50 pages a week (no reading is necessary before the first class), and then discuss when we meet. Each evening will begin with comments from Mark Wallace, which will help put the novel in the broader context of Woolf's life and work, and the literature and culture of the time in which she wrote. But this is a community undertaking, one in which we will look for joy and insight not only in the text but in the experience of reading something deeply with a group of peers. Participants will have plenty of opportunity to chime in, so don't be shy. No writing will be required, but you'll receive optional readings, generative prompts, and other exercises that will help everyone flex their modernist muscles in contemporary ways.
So we have a common reference, the Mariner Books edition is recommended. It has the same page numbering as the old Harcourt Brace edition, and both feature a fine introduction by Eudora Welty. If you have not read the book before, I recommend you wait until you are finished before reading the introduction. We'll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but keep in mind that someone may let something slip. The book is not one that's focused on plot, but what does occur along the way is carefully placed and stunning to experience. So if you are concerned about another participant giving away too much too soon, it may be best to read the entire book before the first class session begins.
This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.