The Voyage Out (Kobo eBook)
First published in 1915, “The Voyage Out”, Virginia Woolf’s first novel, may be her most accessible. It is a witty social satire that chronicles the maturity of the young Englishwoman Rachel Vinrace as she takes a long voyage to South America from London on her father’s ship. Rachel encounters an eclectic array of passengers on the boat and through them Woolf satirizes Edwardian life. This physical passage also becomes a journey of self-discovery for Rachel. She takes both a literal and mythical journey as she enters adulthood and moves from the sheltered world of her upbringing to the wide world full of potential and knowledge. While the novel is witty and satirical, it is also haunting and melancholic, with the beautifully flowing language uniquely characteristic of Woolf’s writing. Many of the themes that come to dominate Woolf’s later works, such as sexuality, consciousness, and death, are first explored in “The Voyage Out.” Rachel’s coming-of-age tale is that of the spiritual growth of a young woman that spans continents, a journey that paralleled that of Woolf’s own life as she left her repressive upbringing to enter the world of art and intellectualism. This edition includes a biographical afterword.