Friday, January 19, 2007

Between the Acts (by Virginia Woolf)

Woolf's last novel. It was written during World War II (the Blitz, if I understand correctly) but portrays a small group of English people putting on a play right before the war. Stream-of-consciousness, of course. And it focuses on what happens "between the acts" of the play; and since it all takes place in a day and nothing much happens, it's also "between the acts" that comprise the lives of the characters.

Woolf flits into the minds of each character, one after another. I don't quite find them believable as people, which was my big problem with the book. I suppose it could be allegorical--putting on the play as a metaphor for the act of artistic creation. It is tempting to read it as a long suicide note, but I don't think that was quite the intent either. I guess what I'm saying is that it's beautiful, but still murky to me. I read this deliberately because I am reading another book that spends an entire chapter talking about it. I'll be finishing that book next, and maybe it will give me some further insight into Between the Acts.

I did think the ending was perfection, though. It strikes the perfect note, especially given the foreshadowing of the war.


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