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"I Have Had My Vision": Virginia Woolf’s Modernist Narrators

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Title: "I Have Had My Vision": Virginia Woolf’s Modernist Narrators
Authors: Martin, Corrie
Issue Date: 15 Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The final chapter of Erich Auerbach's Mimesis opens by quoting a lengthy passage from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. In this passage, Auerbach names and analyzes several stylistic features which he finds characteristic or representative of the modern period as it contrasts with the literary tradition that precedes it. What makes Woolf representative as a modernist, Auerbach remarks, is that she has, "as narrator of objective facts, almost completely vanished…, there actually seems to be no viewpoint at all outside the novel from which the people and events within it are observed..." (471-72). Instead, whatever appears in the way of an "objective reality" must first be extracted from the context of the consciousness of a character in the scene. The fact, too, that Woolf represents "... herself to be someone who doubts, wonders, hesitates, as though the truth about her characters were not better known to her than it is to them or to the reader," further defines her as a modern. Holding up Woolf's text as representative of the modernist sensibility, Auerbach concludes "it is all, then, a matter of the author's attitude toward the reality of the world he represents" (472). At the same time, though, these stylistic traits also indicate Woolf's own attitude towards the act of narration itself. By shifting the focus of analysis from issues of "the world" to those primarily of narration, we discover ways in which Woolf distinguishes her fiction from that of other modernists, or seriously problematizes comparisons with them.
Pages/Duration: 48 pages
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for English

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