Virginia Woolf, Fashion, and Literary Modernity

Virginia Woolf, Fashion, and Literary Modernity

Virginia Woolf, Fashion, and Literary Modernity

Virginia Woolf, Fashion, and Literary Modernity

Excerpt

A range of stimulating books on the theory of modern fashion and the connections between fashion and modernity have become available in recent years, many of them published as part of Berg’s ‘Dress, Body, Culture’ series, confirming that the connections between mode and modernité far exceed the etymological. The interrelationships between literary modernism and modern theories and practices of fashion have been much less consistently explored, however. Clair Hughes and Mark Anderson have written valuable books on the connections between dress, fashion and fiction (Hughes’s Henry James and the Art of Dress (2001) and Dressed in Fiction (2006), Anderson’s Kafka’s Clothes (1992)). Within Woolf studies a number of recent essays have been devoted to aspects of Woolf’s famous ‘clothes-consciousness’, proposing readings of her work in the contexts of shopping, masquerade, and crossdressing, as well as exploring the complexities and contradictions of her engagement with a fashionable modernism, commodity culture and the cultural marketplace. These contributions are highly valuable, but remain uncollected and relatively scattered. A comprehensive reading of Woolf’s work as cultural analyst and writer of fiction, set in the context of the modern interest in fashion as theory and practice, and in clothes as things, commodities and symbols, is still lacking. My own book is intended to begin to fill this gap. It directs itself to the current interest in the traffic between literary, material and visual cultures, assuming that writing engages with the look and feel of culture in complex ways, and that exploring this engagement reveals more not only about what it means to be modern, but about the projects of literary modernism and the exchanges of some of its leading proponents.

The book places Woolf’s writing in the context of sartorial practice from the Victorian period to the 1930s, bringing out its ‘look through clothes’ and its engagement with theorists of dress and fashion from Thomas Carlyle to Walter Benjamin, Wyndham Lewis and J. C. Flügel.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.