Edwin Muir. The Nation and the Æthenæum. July 2, 1927. pp.451-52.

To the Lighthouse. By VIRGINIA WOOLF. (Hogarth Press. 
7s. 6d.)
Fiesta. By ERNEST HEMINGWAY. (Cape. 7s. 6d.)
Twilight Sleep. By EDITH WHARTON. (Appleton. 7s. 6d.)
A Friend of Antæus. By GERARD HOPKINS. (Duckworth. 7s. 6d.)
Mother Knows Best, and Other Stories. By EDNA FERBER. 
(Heinemann, 7s. 6d.)
The Flaming Flower. By ESTRITH MANSFIELD. (Jarrolds 
7s. 6d.)
The Magic Mountain. By THOMAS MANN. Translated from the 
German by H. T. LOWE-PORTER. Two vols. (Secker. 18s)

“TO THE LIGHTHOUSE” is a novel difficult to judge. Like 
the last volume on this list, it stands at the summit of the 
development of a remarkable writer. Its aim is high and 
serious, its technique brilliant; there are more beautiful 
pages in it than Mrs. Woolf has written before; a unique 
intuition and intelligence are at work in it almost continuously, 
and at high pressure. The difficulties which the 
author surmounts in it are such as few contemporary 
novelists would even attempt. Its positive merits are thus 
very high. Yet as a whole, though showing an advance on 
many sides, it produces a less congruous and powerful effect 
than “ Mrs. Dalloway.” The novel consists of three parts. 
In the first we have a picture of Mrs. Ramsay’s summer 
household in the Hebrides before the war; in the second an 
imaginative evocation of time passing over the house, 
deserted now for several years; in the last Mr. Ramsay’s 
return as a widower with two of his family and two old 
friends, the remnant of the large circle which has been 
reduced in the meantime by death and other causes. In 
the first book James, a young boy, had been promised that 
he would be taken to the lighthouse, but it rains, and he 
cannot go. In the last book—he is a youth now—he goes with 
his father and his sister, and everything is different. The 
symbolism is plain enough; but in the novel, so entangled 
is it with other matters, interesting enough in themselves, 
that it becomes obscured. Actually it is obscured most by 
the device which should make it most clear: the intermediary 
book called “Time Passes,” which, to add to the 
difficulty, is the best of the lot, and could only have been 
written by a writer of profound imagination. For this section, 
composed in a different key, concerned with entities 
more universal than the human, entities which do not need 
human life, but, affecting everything, affect human life, too, 
inexorably and yet as if heedlessly, is not a real transition 
from the first section to the last, both conceived in human 
terms, but something outside them. The time which passes 
in this interval passes not for the characters in the story, 
but for everything; it is a natural, an astronomical, a 
cosmical transition, and not a human one except incidentally; 
and the result is that when Mrs. Woolf returns to the 
human plane the sequence seems doubly abrupt. We are 
not only transported from James’s childhood to his youth, 
we are switched from one dimension of time to another. 
That this was not the right means to mark the flight of 
time in this place is shown, I think, by the effect of the third 
section; for that effect is not intensified, it is, if anything, 
lessened by what has gone immediately before. Yet one 
cannot regret that Mrs. Woolf wrote the second section in 
this book. For imagination and beauty of writing it is 
probably not surpassed in contemporary prose. But how 
this kind of imagination can be applied, as one feels sure 
it can, to the business of the novelist, the shadowing forth 
of human life, is still a problem to be solved. 

Mr. Hemingway is a writer of quite unusual talent. His