But you may ask why The Years and not Mrs. Dalloway first? I don't know. I think it was a fortunate to find it in my local library and by reading a few pages of it, I realized that I must read it first. Did you know that I tried to read Mrs. Dalloway for more than 3 times, and even once I read almost half of the book, but I failed to finish it? I was losing my hope. I thought Woolf is not my type.
Reading A room of one's own opened my eyes to many things. That Virginia Woolf mainly concentrates on what kinds of things around us. Let me think. It is a book on women, writing and novels but you see she's describing a cat without a tail in the yard of Oxford University. Amazing huh? And then she compares herself with that cat. I don't think she was a revolutionary feminist. She didn't write a book like The golden notebook of Doris Lessing. She is not The woman destroyed of Simone de Beauvoir, despite her life. I think she was beyond all these things. Although I am not a professional Woolf reader, after reading the years I felt I discovered something new in my life: a new author, a new kind of writing above all kinds of hatred, a new kind of womanhood in fact.
She's smart. She has her own style. She's strong. She's different.
The Years is like I can say The Waves that I have read it years ago, I could finish it but I don't think I wholly understood it, because of a bad translation or perhaps it's untranslatable or maybe I wasn't yet a mature reader. It is the story of a family. There are 4 sisters and 3 brothers living in a big house with their sick mother and father. This is how it starts. The title of each chapter is a certain year. It goes for decades for almost fifty years until each one of the characters gets old.
What we expect from a Woolf novel should not be a mixture of events which supposedly must constitute a special year (chapter). Like chapter 1914 which is describing only one day, they are snapshots of a period od time. I realized that I should read it like a poem, a long poem of winds, clouds, leaves, pigeons, sounds and noise, seasons , streets and London. Each chapter starts with a description of a special season and then characters are floating in these natural frames.
It was January. Snow was falling; snow had fallen all day. The sky spread like a grey goose’s wing from which feathers were falling all over England. The sky was nothing but a flurry of falling flakes. Lanes were levelled; hollows filled; the snow clogged the streams; obscured windows, and lay wedged against doors.
This is beautiful to see that how characters remain themselves by passing years. How for instance Sara poetically reacts to other people's behavior in her 40's like her 20's. Or how Woolf manages that her characters remembers those memories from years ago that we have read about them in previous chapters and it was for me a reminiscence of reading Proust. I think one main special characteristics of Woolf's is that you have to participate in the novel. Although she puts some clues in different places but you have to guess some things yourself. And that makes it a mysterious reading.
The main characters are mainly women. One thing that I really liked about them was that Woolf sometimes sees them from the eyes of other people, an old man sitting in front of them in a bus for instance:
The man on whose toe she had trodden sized her up; a well-known type; with a bag; philanthropic; well nourished; a spinster; a virgin; like all the women of her class, cold; her passions had never been touched; yet not unattractive. She was laughing. . . .
That above sentence looked so natural to me. I mean as she herself says in A room of one's own, a successful female author writes beyond her gender. And Woolf proves that she is like that.