So he waited in the darkness. Suddenly he was struck in the face by a blow, soft, yet heavy, on the side of his cheek. So strung with expectation was he, that he started and put his hand to his sword. The blow was repeated a dozen times on forehead and cheek. The dry frost had lasted so long that it took him a minute to realize that these were raindrops falling; the blows were the blows of the rain. At first, they fell slowly, deliberately, one by one. But soon the six drops became sixty; then six hundred; then ran themselves together in a steady spout of water. It was as if the hard and consolidated sky poured itself forth in one profuse fountain. In the space of five minutes Orlando was soaked to the skin. (59-60)

In stark contrast to the widely-accepted significance of her other novels, like Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and The Waves, Virginia Woolf's Orlando has met mostly "critical ambivalence," to the point where seemingly exhaustive studies of her anthology have been known to ignore it. Readers tend to dismiss it as little more than a love letter in six chapters, an extended series of inside jokes between Woolf and her lover, Vita Sackville-West, and though the point is debatable, Woolf may well have...

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