Updated February 14, 1998
Created January 1998 by UAH graduate students Sheri Stanley and Mary Beth Walker
How did readers respond to The Voyage Out when it was first published?
Though not badly received, the Voyage reviews were ambiguous. Hussey quotes a remark from Jane Novak: "[Early critics] almost universally describe it by some variation of Clive Bells phrase a remarkable failure (340). Supporting Virginias main concern with "conception" of the novel, most early critics found the novel strange. Lytton Strachey wrote to her that the novel had failed in its overall conception (King 233). King writes: " [she felt] somehow her aim of presenting the vast tumult of life had overwhelmed rather than enriched the book" (233).
Some critics emphasized specifically the looseness of the novels plot construction as a failing point. Rachels illness and death elude critics today, but an anonymous early reviewer in the Times Literary Supplement (1 April 1915) noted the strength in this seeming weakness: "And it is logical, this sudden tragedy, but it is made almost to seem like the illogic of life; it is so intense that one is desolated by a sense of the futility of life and forgets the failure of design." (qtd. King 227).
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