Friday, October 29, 2010

Orlando: The Great Love Letter

In class, we spoke about the spirit of exaggeration. I find this entire novel to embody this spirit, nearly the entire story seems to be a hyperbole of sorts. One prime example of this is the index in the back. This addition cracks me up to no end. Obviously it is completely unnecessary but it adds to the exaggeration of our main character, Orlando. Every other entry is one line, two at most including numbers, except for Orlando’s. The Orlando entry extends for thirty-three lines. This entry includes random entries about her; her with certain people, being “confused with her cousin,” everything. It is excessive and over the top just like everything else about this novel. How can one person be so attractive to so many different people? But perhaps she only had to be this attractive to one… our narrator.

This novel has been described by several different reviews that I have read to be a love letter. I support this completely. Love letters are exaggerated and “fluffed-up” things. They are the words and thoughts of the obsessed lover to the object of their obsession. They are ornate and flowery in order to flatter the beloved one. Such letters do not reflect reality but rather the writer’s perception of reality. To the lover, the entire world revolves around the object of their affection and they can do no wrong. This is why so many people within the novel are in love with/fawning over Orlando. The narrator perceives Orlando in this fashion and therefore has projected those feelings onto the other characters. This obsession is obvious in exaggerated parts of the novel such as the index entry; Orlando’s is thirty times longer than all the others because she is thirty times more important to our narrator.

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