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Reader and Writer: Orlando as a Symbol of Freedom All intellectuals and poets know too well the stifling

power of censorship: every age has its norms, its rules and regulations, its status quo, and its indelible stereotypes. In her optimistic, fanciful novel, Orlando, Virginia Woolf offers a route of escape from the repression of the spirit of the age, representing poetry and love as agents of freedom, opposed to the caging nature of history. It is, in fact, only by his and her artistic mind, that Orlando gains total freedom and hacks down the walls of poetic rules, hypocritical literate criticism, and factual biography. Thanks to the action of love and its importance in poetry, Orlando finds release from social standards, chronological boundaries, and gender the foully rotten normal. Woolfs novel owes much of its potency to the imposing representations of rules and norms, particularly those of literature and poetry, which stifle the creative spirit of poets and critics alike. When describing the many historical periods that Orlando travels to, Woolf never fails to mention the poets of the age, nor to represent the haughty criticism directed to these poets, and the hypocritical mutability of this criticism. The historical development of poetry emerges as an important subject of Woolfs novel, represented by the characters of renowned poets, whose over-usage has, today, distorted into a state of clich. These poets are mostly mentioned in groups, (Addison, Dryden Pope Orlando repeated as if the words were an incantation 119), thus transforming them, from individual artists, into collective entities treated solely as objects of criticism (Marlowe, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson those were the giants. Dryden, Pope, Addison those were the heroes Whom have they left us? Tennyson, Browning, Carlyle 193).

Nick Greenes disparagement of the cited trios represents the critics traditional denunciation of his contemporary time, and his constant praise of the canonic literature of the past (All he could say was that the art of poetry was dead in England 61). Furthermore Greenes criticism, spiteful yet fickle, reveals a superficial treatment of the work of individual poets: he neglects careful readings, so as to make way for sweeping generalizations (the great days of literature are over 193). Woolf then shows the critic red-handed in hypocritical praise of poets previously denounced: Greene laughed sardonically. Shakespeare, he admitted, had written some scenes that were well enough; but he had taken them chiefly from Marlowe (61) is in stark contrast with, Marlow, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson those were the giants (193). Initially, the rules and conventions of literature smother the tragically young, poetically inept and emotionally insecure Orlando. The poetry Orlando creates for Sasha (she was a fox, an olive tree, or a green hilltop 33) is tedious and repetitive; Woolf shows him plunging and splashing among a thousand images which had gone as stale as the women who inspired them (32), thus foreshadowing, through his poetic failure (words failed him 32), that his seemingly-passionate love is only a shadow of real inspiration. In defining Orlandos early poetry as wordy and bombastic in the extreme (66), Greene shows his critical and harpy-like voice, but also uncovers real flaws in Orlandos fifty-seven poetical works (67). After his formal and boring poetry dedicated to Sasha, Orlando develops real poetic ability, finding inspiration in nature and true, unconventional love. Rather than the meaningless and wordy poetry of his youth, Orlandos love with Marmaduke is characterized by an ability to communicate concisely (a whole spiritual state of the

utmost complexity might be conveyed in a word or two 196) and cryptically (cypher language 196). The syntactical and logical absurdity of Orlandos conversations with Marmaduke (life literature Greene toady Rattigan Glumphoboo 196), represent a striking amount of freedom from the invasive rules of writing. Gradually, Orlandos worship of poetry, a constant element throughout the novel (made her long, as she had never longed before for pen and ink Oh! If only I could write 102 she thought only of the glory of poetry 117), becomes a source of pleasure and an expression of love (ordinary conversation is often the most poetic cannot be written down 176). Orlandos discovery of freedom within language allows his and her poetry to metamorphose from a tedious obligation into a poetic eruption of love, and to free him and her from the pervasive censorship of the spirit of the age (182), symbol of all rules and norms exercised upon a writers creativity. Orlando reaches a state of independence from any caging standards of literature, realizing that she need neither fight her age, nor submit to it (184), thanks to the power of poetry itself, acting as a direct expression of pure, illogical, unbounded emotions. Mirroring Orlandos liberation in writing, Woolf experiments with biography and fiction, creating a eulogy to freedom that is innovative and uninhibited in its style. Within the powerful prose, examples of flow of consciousness (what has praisewhat has seven was not 225) provide freedom from logic, which is emphasized by the stylistic presence of poetic rhythm (188) and rebellious inserts of poetry (For, he said, I have done with men / Nevertheless, he paid the pension quarterly 67). Woolfs ironic voice criticizes the standards of factual biography, (the first duty of a biographer [is] to plod, without looking right or left, in the indelible footprints of truth 47), offering her

surreal fiction as a work that defies the set boundaries of prose, appropriating many characteristics of the realm poetry. Poetry is a symbol of freedom both in Orlandos life and in Woolfs innovative text, acting as a bridge between factual events and the fanciful world of love and creativity to which Orlando harkens. Woolfs lively novel meticulously describes, and then consequently deconstructs, many pre-conceived notions of the role of the writer, laying bare the innate contradictions of the writing practice: a realm of creative freedom often caged within rules and expectations. In her novel, Woolf offers the union of poetry and prose, fiction and reality, as a way of transcribing human emotions, the epitomic expressions of freedom that are impossible to define within the logical boundaries of prose (Love, Friendship, Poetry 102). Love and emotions undoubtedly exist in the real world, but constantly appear in the realm of the imaginary as products of intellectual freedom and as muses of poetry, an expression of the human soul that is inevitably the utmost aim of a writer.

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