Gothic Modernisms

By Andrew Smith; Jeff Wallace | Go to book overview

4
The Ghost and the Omnibus:
the Gothic Virginia Woolf
Judith Wilt

In 1921 Virginia Woolf, writing of that generation we call ‘modernist’, warns the aspiring ghost story writer that ‘your ghosts will only make us laugh’ if they simply aim at the obvious sources of fear. For after world war, tabloid journalism and mass mechanical production ‘we breakfast upon a richer feast of horror than served our ancestors for a twelvemonth…we are impervious to fear.’ It only remains for us modernist writers, Woolf notes, to change the point of attack, to find ‘the weak spot in the armour’ of the impervious modern mind, to specify a new fear. 1

For fearlessness, properly speaking, is a treasure won from the sensitive experiencing of ideas or events genuinely fearful: it is not the affectlessness or moral stupidity that sometimes masquerades as fearlessness. The next year, 1922, would see the appearance of the first two great modernist tales of terror, The Waste Land, and Ulysses. Forster's demonically possessed Adela Quested and the ghost of ‘Esmiss Esmoor’ joined the spooked narrator of Eliot's poem and the mother-vampire-pursued young pedant of Joyce's novel with the publication of A Passage to Indiain 1927. And by the time Virginia Woolf had offered her variants of the modernist ghost in Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), A Room of One's Own (1929) and The Waves (1931), that haunted decade had fully earned ‘us moderns’ our new Gothic spurs, showing us the way to fearlessness through the encounter with our modern fear of the death of our most cherished illusion – ego, the self.

Like Henry James, her mentor and foil in this respect, Virginia Woolf went to the Gothic pantheon for ‘agents’ of the marvellous because these agents traditionally enforce in characters and readers that sudden opening, widening, shattering of consciousness, that dissolving of rational boundaries, which was one of the goals of her fiction. 2 Like

-62-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Gothic Modernisms
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 232

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.