Sunday, April 24, 2011

Orlando: A Biography

Orlando: A Biography, written by Virginia Woolf in 1928, follows the life of a person named Orlando. The novel is not a true biography in the fact that the characters, events, places, and time span of over 300 years is fictional; however, is quite similar to the life of her lover, Vita Sackville-West, and others just given different names. Virginia’s personal, love life had taken a turn when she meet a woman named Vita Sackville-West, an aspiring author, wife, and mother. She never referred to herself or her friend, Vita, as homosexuals, but they soon fell in love. Vita was considered her partner in life, the person who really knew and understood her even better than anyone who had ever taken a part in her life. The novel is actually dedicated and written for Vita, who is Orlando in the novel. Orlando, the main character, is a man living in the 16th century. His first love is Queen Elizabeth who makes him of high status and stature as well as wealthy. They soon fall out of love as Orlando tries to find who he is. Orlando has various lovers spanning over 300 years and truly falls in love with a Russian princess. This princess is thought be be Vita's real-life lover. Eventually, Orlando is rejected and meets the archduchess Harriet, whom we find out later to be transgendered. Harriet had obviously made several advances toward Orlando, but was unfettered. He eventually moves away and one day becomes a woman. To the reader, he, or she now, is surprisingly O.K. with the change and begins to contemplate whether she prefers to be a man or a woman. Orlando, in woman form, meets the real Archduke Harry later on in life and debates marrying him. She realizes that he is too boring and unmoving for her liking and moves on. Orlando lives many more centuries figuring out who she, or he, really is. Eventually, Orlando transported to present day, at that time 1928, and thinks of her current love and of her writings. Seeing as Virginia and Vita Sackett-West had sexual relations while the book was first published, it is obvious, when the background of Virginia’s love life is known, that Virginia’s lover Vita had influenced the way Orlando was written and how the character, Orlando, had a love that did not differ between genders.


1. Does love truly differentiate between genders?

2. Do you think Orlando should be considered real non-fiction since it is a biography in the fact that it depicts the life of Vita Sacket-West only under a different name?


Deanna K 5-6 said...

To answer my first question, no, i do not believe love is swayed by genders. Love can mean an array of different emotions. As a girl you could be infatuated with your boyfriend, appreciate and love your parents, cherish your friends, and adore your dog: all different forms of love.

Deanna K 5-6 said...

My second question is almost obvious. The novel cannot be considered nonfiction because it is simply not true. Although it follows the same lifestyle of Woolf's lover, that is the only true, correct aspect of the novel. The main character lives over a span of 300 years which is fictional as well as suddenly transforming from a man to a woman. No, the "biography" should not be considered nonfiction.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

I believe that love is not affected by gender. Men or women may love something whether a person or an object. On the other hand they may also hate things. It just depends on who the person is and what they what to get out of life. One may cherish the love of their family more than the love of their dogs or other pets.

Nick E. 13-14 said...

I think the idea, along with the emotion of love, absolutely differentiates between men and women. Most men are driven by infatuation and/or lust. Women are driven by the feeling of wanted to be wanted. They love to be loved.

McKenzieM 11-12 said...

I also believe love is not affected by gender. It depends who the person is but I think men and women are both capable of loving and hating things in equal ways.