Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf.
Virginia Woolf
1. Life (1882-1941)
Her father Leslie Stephen
was an eminent Victorian
man of letters.
She grew up in a literary
and intellectual
atmosphere with free
access to her father’s library
Leslie Stephen with Virginia Woolf.
Childhood experiences of death and sexual abuse led to depression
the death of her mother
when she was 13
her stepbrothers
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
1. Life (1882-1941)
Suicide
The Second World War increased her
anxiety and fears. After rewriting drafts
of her suicide note, she put rocks into
her pockets and drowned herself in the
River Ouse.
Virginia Woolf.
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
2. Literary career
The Bloomsbury Group  In 1904
she moved to Bloomsbury and became a
member of the Bloomsbury Group. This
meant the rejection of traditional morality
and artistic convention.
Experimentation  best known as one
The Bloomsbury Group
of the great experimental novelists during
the modernist period.
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
2. Literary career
Evolution of her style in her main novels
•
The Voyage Out (1915)
•
Night and Day (1917)
•
Jacob’s room (1922)
•
Mrs Dalloway (1925)
•
Traditional
narratives
Narrative experimentation with the
novel
To the Lighthouse (1927)
A more completely developed
“stream-of-consciousness
technique”
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
2. Literary career
A feminist writer  the themes of androgyny, women and writing
• Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Describes Clarissa Dalloway and
Sally Seton’s relationship as young
women
• Orlando (1928)
Deals with androgyny
• A Room of One’s Own (1929)
Shows Woolf’s concern with the
questions of women’s subjugation
and the relationship between women
and writing
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
3. A Modernist novelist
• Main aim  to give voice to the complex
inner world of feeling and memory.
• The human personality  a continuous
shift of impressions and emotions.
• Narrator  disappearance of the
omniscient narrator.
• Point of view  shifted inside the
characters’ minds through flashbacks,
associations of ideas, momentary
impressions presented as a continuous flux.
The Prose and the Passion
Vanessa Bell, Mrs St John Hutchinson, 1915,
Tate Gallery, London
Virginia Woolf
4. Woolf vs Joyce
Woolf’s stream of
consciousness
Joyce’s stream of
consciousness
never lets her characters’
thoughts flow without control,
maintains logical and
grammatical organisation
characters show their
thoughts directly through
interior monologue,
sometimes in an incoherent
and syntactically
unorthodox way
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
4. Woolf vs Joyce
Moments of being
Epiphanies
Rare moments of insight
during the characters’ daily
life when they can see
reality behind appearances
The sudden spiritual
manifestation caused by a
trivial gesture, an external
object  the character is
led to a self-realization
about himself/herself
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
5. Mrs Dalloway (1925)
• Takes place on a single ordinary day
in June 1923.
• Follows the protagonist through a
very small area of London, from the
morning to the night of the day on
which she gives a large formal party.
Cover for the first edition of Mrs.
Dalloway, London, Hogarth Press,
1925.
• Clarissa Dalloway’s party is the
climax of the novel and unifies the
narrative by gathering all the people
she thinks about during the day.
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
5. Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Clarissa Dalloway
Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs. Dalloway in Marleen Gorris’s
1997 film adaptation
•
A London society lady of fifty-one,
the wife of a Conservative MP,
Richard Dalloway, who has
conventional views on women’s
rights.
•
Had a possessive father, refused
Peter Walsh, a man who would force
her to share everything.
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
5. Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Clarissa Dalloway
Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs. Dalloway in Marleen
Gorris’s 1997 film adaptation
•
Characterized by opposing feelings:
her need for freedom and
independence and her class
consciousness.
•
Her life appears to be an effort towards
order and peace, an attempt to
overcome her weakness and sense of
failure.
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
5. Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Septimus Warren Smith
• A young poet and lover of
Shakespeare.
• When the war broke out,
enlisted for patriotic reasons.
Rupert Graves as Septimus in Marleen Gorris’s 1997 film
adaptation
• An extremely sensitive man who
can suddenly fall prey to panic
and fear, or feelings of guilt.
The Prose and the Passion
Virginia Woolf
5. Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Septimus Warren Smith
• A character specifically
connected with the war.
• Suffers from headaches and
insomnia.
Rupert Graves as Septimus in Marleen Gorris’s 1997 film
adaptation
• Finally commits suicide.
The Prose and the Passion