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Key Facts

Key Facts

full title · Orlando: a Biography

author · Virginia Woolf

type of work · Novel

genre · Fictional biography

language · English

time and place written · Woolf wrote Orlando from her home in London, 1927–1928, between To the Lighthouse and The Waves

date of first publication · October 11, 1928, the date given in the last line of the novel

publisher · Hogarth Press

narrator · Third-person, omniscient narrator; an unreliable "biographer" who changes style and tone to suit the changes of Orlando's life

climax · The climax occurs when Orlando finds herself in the present day, 1928, and she is forced to acknowledge her own nature as a multitude of selves and experiences within one person.

protagonist · Orlando

setting (time) · 1588 to 1928

setting (place) · Mostly in England (London and Kent), but 1660–1685 are spent on an excursion to Constantinople and the hills of Turkey

point of view · Third-person omniscient; the narrator or "biographer" knows what each of the characters are thinking and inserts her own explanations into the text

falling action · Orlando, having found love, now finds life in the present moment; standing by her oak tree, she looks over her manor and welcomes back her husband Shel.

tense · Immediate past, real-time narration

foreshadowing · Orlando's poem foreshadows that she will end up back at her oak tree; the appearance of Archduchess Harriet foreshadows that he will me a man; Orlando's troubles with the gypsies foreshadow that she will return to England.

tone · Detached, philosophic, and poetic; although she attempts to include dates and facts making the book a real 'biography,' the narrator's work ends up as poetry.

themes · Sex and gender, the differences between men and women; the quality of history; the 'spirit of the age;' time; interconnectedness; truth, fact, and poetry

motifs · Poetry, dates, clothing, sex changes

symbols · The oak tree, the clock, Orlando's manor house, clouds

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