New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf

New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf

New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf

New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf

Synopsis

Recent feminist criticism has revolutionized the way we view modern literature, none more than the stories and novels of Virginia Woolf. Jane Marcus here collects twelve provocative new essays by women scholars, all of them taking feminist critical approaches to yield fresh readings of Woolf's work. Ellen Hawke's "The Magical Garden of Women" and Jane Marcus's "Thinking Back through Our Mothers" explore Woolf's relationships with women and offer a historical approach to her identification with other women writers. Marcus points out Woolf's technical achievement in the creation of a demotic chorus, the "collective sublime," in direct opposition to the "egotistical sublime" of male writers. Sara Ruddick's "Private Brothers/Public World" compares Woolf's relations with real and fictional brothers. Judy Little revises all previous readings of Jacob's Roomby treating it as parody. J. J. Wilson's "Why Is Orlando Difficult?" broaches the central problem of Woolf's most notorious novel. Jane Lilienfeld's investigation of To the Lighthouse provides new insight into the Ramsays' marriage. Suzette Henke's reading of Mrs. Dalloway detects an interlacing of feminism and Christian mysticism in the novel. Madeline Moore's essay on The Voyage Out explains that puzzling novel in terms of the myth of Demeter and Persephone, again a mother-daughter relationship. Susan Squier, overturning established opinion, argues that They Years is one of Woolf's most important novels. Louise DeSalvo's "Shakespeare's Other Sister" analyzes an unpublished Woolf story. Nora Eisenberg uses "Anon," an unpublished manuscript in the Berg Collections, to elucidate Between the Acts.

Excerpt

'Publishers are capitalists — publishers are cowards' says Miss Marchmont in Jacob's Room, which is why the Miss Marchmonts and Virginia Woolfs of this world buy their own presses and publish their own pamphlets on how 'colour is sound — or, perhaps it has something to do with music', and their novels without heroes and plots. Nowadays cowardly capitalist publishers (who are sometimes known to do the right thing for the wrong reason) have discovered that radical and feminist writers have a large audience of radical and feminist readers.

This book is for those readers. The critical work of the contributors has often been buried in academic and feminist journals, their papers read at Virginia Woolf conferences or the Modern Language Association seminar. Now we should like to share it, as we have shared our work on the manuscripts, our new readings of the novels, our reinterpretations of the life, with each other. For feminist criticism of Virginia Woolf has been a collective effort. Our methodologies differ, as do our training and our ages and our styles. We are linked by sex and a sense that something has been missing in Virginia Woolf scholarship. As a literary critic, Virginia Woolf is the mother of us all, in precisely the personal and political ways that Gertrude Stein meant when she claimed this kinship with Susan B. Anthony. This book is meant as a claim of kinship with Virginia Woolf. By now, she is saying, from her garret window in the house of fiction, you should have shaken the shoddy fetters of class from your feet; you should be able to speak freely about .sex and the family; academic journals ought to let you say that Henry James is 'lewd' if you want to, and that Carlyle should have had a baby and Jane written a . . .

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