Situating Orlando within a matrix of biographical, cultural, and literary concerns, this essay contends that Virginia Woolf's peculiar and fantastical "biography" of Vita Sackville-West effects a double compensation. By attending to the tensions between the real and the fictional/fantastic and the public and private, I suggest that the text restores lost loves and lost objects to both Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. The other compensation the novel effects is located at the level of representation. Orlando is a complex interplay between Woolf and Sackville-West that produces not only Sackville-West's "biography." It is also Woolf's own story of the inadequacy of language to name the "thing itself" and to represent women, a story that nevertheless self-consciously conveys through language the very things she suggests language is incapable of.