Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

The Art of Balance: A Corpus-Assisted Stylistic Analysis of Woolfian Parallelism in to the Lighthouse

Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

The Art of Balance: A Corpus-Assisted Stylistic Analysis of Woolfian Parallelism in to the Lighthouse

Article excerpt


This study has a two-fold objective: 1) to examine the density and variety of parallelism in Virginia Woolf's landmark novel To the Lighthouse through a sample-based comparison between this novel and other representative modernist novels; 2) to discuss the specific lexical and syntactic structures that characterize Woolf's parallelism. The results are extracted from a corpus-assisted reading and sampled textual analysis of her work. It shows that Woolfian parallelism is defined by an abundance of antithetical and synonymous lexical bundles, juxtaposed propositional phrases, -ing participles and appositional structures. Those structures constitute her special sentential development which is marked by the rhetoric of opposition, the rhetoric of simultaneity and progression, and the rhetoric of specificity. It is concluded that in To the Lighthouse, Woolf manipulates the above-mentioned linguistic resources to strike an artistic balance between poetry and prose, order and chaos, the physical reality and the mental world, and finally achieves what she calls "a feminine sentence".


To the Lighthouse, Woolfian parallelism, corpus-assisted analysis, feminine sentence.


El presente estudio persigue un doble objetivo: 1) examinar la densidad y la variedad de paralelismo en la paradigmática novela de Virginia Woolf Al faro a través de una comparación por fragmentos entre esta novela y otras representativas del Modernismo; 2) explorar las estructuras específicas léxicas y sintácticas que caracterizan el paralelismo de Woolf. Los resultados se extraen a partir de una lectura basada en concordancias y análisis textuales de extractos de su obra. Muestra cómo el paralelismo woolfiano se define por una abundancia de conjuntos léxicos antitéticos y sinónimos, sintagmas preposicionales yuxtapuestas, participios en -ing y estructuras aposicionales. Esas estructuras constituyen el desarrollo sintáctico especial de Woolf, marcado por la retórica de la simultaneidad y la progresión, la retórica de la particularidad y la retórica de la oposición. En conclusión, se afirma que en Al faro, la autora manipula los recursos lingüísticos mencionados para alcanzar un equilibrio artístico entre la suspensión y la continuidad, la realidad física y el mundo mental, el estado del hacer y el estado del ser, y finalmente alcanza lo que ella misma llama "una oración femenina".


Paralelismo woolfiano, lectura basada en concordancia, equilibrio, Al faro, oración femenina.


Throughout her life of artistic pursuit, Virginia Woolf was a persistent explorer for an artistic balance that might accommodate various forms of duality: "fact and vision, art and life, the inner and the outer world, order and chaos, mutability and continuity" (Novak, 1975: xii). Her artistic aim as an artist, however, was not only to mirror and record these contradictions of human life, but "to find a fictional form that would hold all opposites in a state of momentary wholeness yielding insight..." (ibid.). She believed that "Tumult is vile; confusion is hateful; everything in a work of art should be mastered and ordered" (Woolf, 1966: 228). This pursuit of order and harmony, when projected at the level of language, is realized by the marriage of prose and poetry. The poetic voice, in her novel, has a two-fold rhetorical function: on the one hand, with its inherent properties like deviation, connotation, ambiguity and symbolism, poetry can be the best medium for fully capturing the subtleties of shapeless minds and simultaneously "incants, invokes, suggests, moving towards emotional synthesis and an experience of wholeness of perception" (Davies, 1989: 51). On the other hand, lyricism is also defined by "regularity": the metrical schemes and incremental repetitions are the most effective ways to give order and coherence among the disordered and fleeting sensations that Woolf would like to depict. …

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