A Classic Couple: Orlando and Every Day

It’s time for another Classic Couple! I love this feature so much but for some reason it tends to be the last thing on my mind when scheduling posts. In an effort to be more regular about it in the future, today I’d like to share an interesting and unexpected pair: Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando (1928) and David Levithan’s novel Every Day (2012). While reading the former novel for my Virginia Woolf in Modernist Contexts tutorial, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Levithan’s young adult novel that I read a few years ago. Although very different in setting, style, tone, and audience, both novels nevertheless discuss similar themes that many books shy away from.

Changing Bodies || Both novels involve the rather fantastical concept of suddenly, inexplicably, unexpectedly changing bodies. In Orlando, the eponymous protagonist wakes up one day to discover that her body has changed from male to female. Once this change occurs, Orlando remains in this female body for centuries until the novel ends in Woolf’s contemporary time. In Every Day, the protagonist A wakes up in a new body each day, thereby taking on different identities, lifestyles, and physical attributes.

Gender || Due to the emphasis on changing bodies of different sexes, gender is  a major aspect of these novels. Although Orlando’s biological sex has changed, she struggles with the fact that she often feels the same way in regard to her personality as she did when she was a man. In this way, Woolf not only suggests that biological sex has little bearing on one’s gender, but she also asserts that gender is a socially constructed, performed choice that one should be able to make about one’s own identity. A’s gender is even more fluid due to the fact that they seem to be genderless (or all genders at once??) and go by the neutral “they” pronoun.

Identity || As you can probably tell, identity is an important and essential overarching theme in these two novels. Although one’s personal identity is often viewed as something that is stable and changes gradually over time, Woolf and Levithan suggest that it can be more fluid than one may expect. They also stress that identity frequently defies categorization or even description, as language can fail to encompass all aspects of one’s personality due to its narrowing tendencies. It’s difficult to describe Orlando and A without stopping to think about who exactly they are and what their identities are composed of. In a world obsessed with naming and labelling seemingly everything in sight, these novels offer a refreshingly open way of thinking about one’s identity.

I never thought I would be comparing a Woolf novel with a Levithan novel, but Orlando and Every Day go together incredibly well. If you’re interested in either of these novels, I highly recommend checking them out!

Click here to check out other Classic Couples from past posts.

What do you think of this classic couple? What other books would you pair with Orlando or Every Day? What are your thoughts on either or both of these books? Let me know in the comments section below!



9 responses to “A Classic Couple: Orlando and Every Day”

  1. I should add Orlando to my TBR! I loved Every Day so much and it is such a unique story. I am surprised to hear that there is something with similar themes out there. Thanks so much for sharing this one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! Orlando is such a strange but brilliant, captivating read. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂


  2. Orlando sounds really interesting! I’ve not heard of it, but it definitely sounds like a good read. I’ll have to add it to my TBR.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a strange but brilliant novel… you never know what to expect from Woolf! Hope you enjoy it whenever you get around to reading it 🙂


  3. I looove both the idea behind this post as well as your pick & analysis. Such interesting underlying themes. Exploring identity is something that always interests me and I am now super curious as I haven’t read neither of those books. 📚 Excellent post Holly! 👌💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Vera! These posts are always so much fun to write. It’s not often that you get to discuss classics in such a contemporary context!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. bookwormscornerblogspot Avatar

    This is a really interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] 15. EUPHORIA. Orlando by Virginia Woolf. (My review) […]


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