Orlando Essay - Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series Orlando Analysis

Virginia Woolf

Masterpieces of Women's Literature Orlando Analysis

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando is really a literary hybrid, easy to read but difficult to define. The writer called it a mock-biography because it allowed her greater expression of comic fantasy and showcased her ornate style of writing. The novel, however, is more than a biography because it blends the genre with fantasy, fiction, poetry, and allegory. It can also be viewed as an satire, a feminist tract, or a pleasant comic examination of English literature through metaphor. Despite its lightness of tone, Woolf intended the novel as an examination of the creative process, sexual identity and inequality, and the experience of psychological time.

No analysis of Orlando is considered complete or definitive without an understanding of her complex relationship with fellow writer Victoria (Vita) Sackville-West. Woolf and Sackville-West, an acknowledged bisexual, were intimate friends and lovers. They first met at a dinner party in December, 1922, but the affair was slow in developing and did not flourish until the years between 1925 and 1929. Initially, the much older Woolf was shy and both repelled and fascinated by Sackville-West’s nature. For Sackville-West, it was one of numerous lesbian affairs carried out in the 1920’s, but for the married Woolf, it was her first. In fact, the affair became Woolf’s grand passion and the inspiration for her writings, particularly Orlando, which reached a creative peak during this same period.

Orlando is dedicated to Sackville-West, the title character patterned closely after her. Orlando’s long-lived history is modeled after her...

(The entire section is 671 words.)