Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. Great Britain’s capital city serves as a contrast to Santa Marina, which is represented by its “primitiveness.” The novel opens as Helen and Ridley Ambrose hurry along the Embankment, a walkway along the River Thames, in order to board a ship to Santa Marina. The Thames symbolizes the strength of British commerce, culture, and colonization. Also mentioned in the novel are Richmond, a comfortable suburb south of London, where Rachel lives with her aunts, and Bloomsbury, a London neighborhood characterized by the intellectuals and bohemians who live there.


Euphrosyne (yew-FROH-seen). Ship owned by Willoughby Vinrace on which Rachel and others travel to Santa Marina. On this ship Rachel is expected to function as hostess for her father, signaling the beginning of her feminine education. The characters on the Euphrosyne form a microcosm of English society, which includes the servants, the middle class (Ambroses), the political elite (the Dalloways), and an eccentric scholar (Pepper). These types are also found among the English tourists at the Santa Marina hotel and together they represent an idealization of England as culturally sophisticated. On the ship the travelers discuss cultural and political activities in London. For instance, the sea reminds them of the British Royal Navy, a symbol of patriotism in post-colonial Great Britain. The voyage is also reminiscent of...

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The Voyage Out Bibliography

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

DeSalvo, Louise. Virginia Woolf’s First Voyage: A Novel in the Making. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1980. Discusses the novel’s inception, drafts, inspirations for characters and events, and themes. Detailed comparisons of drafts offer insight into Woolf’s creative process. An accessible source.

McDowell, Frederick P. W. “‘Surely Order Did Prevail’: Virginia Woolf and The Voyage Out.” In Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity, edited by Ralph Freedman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Clearly explicates the novel’s psychological complexity, darkness, and questioning of meaning and reality.

Paul, Janis M. The Victorian Heritage of Virginia Woolf: The External World in Her Novels. Norman, Okla.: Pilgrim Books, 1987. Paul’s chapter on The Voyage Out considers the novel within its aesthetic and historical context and pays particular attention to Woolf’s struggle between Victorian and modernist conventions, both in life and literature. Also discusses Woolf’s experimentation with form.

Rose, Phyllis. Woman of Letters: A Life of Virginia Woolf. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Offers in one chapter on The Voyage Out a compelling discussion that focuses on Woolf’s use of character to explore social and philosophical issues.

Rosenthal, Michael. Virginia Woolf. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979. Includes an excellent chapter devoted to a thorough discussion of the plot and ideas of Woolf’s first novel.