Virginia Woolf, Modernity and History: Constellations with Walter Benjamin

Overview

This book analyses the representation of the past and the practice of historiography in both the fiction and the critical writings of Virginia Woolf. It argues for a critical historiography, distinct from the conventional assumptions of history writing, to be found in Woolf's essays and fiction, and links her historiographical imagination with Walter Benjamin's philosophy of history and associated theory of modernity along certain dialectical motifs and emblematic figures. Setting 'in constellation' the ideas of ...

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Overview

This book analyses the representation of the past and the practice of historiography in both the fiction and the critical writings of Virginia Woolf. It argues for a critical historiography, distinct from the conventional assumptions of history writing, to be found in Woolf's essays and fiction, and links her historiographical imagination with Walter Benjamin's philosophy of history and associated theory of modernity along certain dialectical motifs and emblematic figures. Setting 'in constellation' the ideas of Woolf and Benjamin on the relationship between the past and the present, it enquires into the intersections of Woolf's literary modernism with history, (feminist) politics and the experience of modernity, speaking to contemporary critical debates. Benjamin's thought provides an exciting new lens for reading Woolf's work, whose historiographical constructions are shown to possess a pronounced political impetus that intervenes with how history is perceived and recorded, also addressing crucial questions about the meaning and status of modern artworks.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230537583
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

ANGELIKI SPIROPOULOU holds a PhD from the University of Sussex, UK. She is Lecturer in Modern European Literature and Theory at the University of the Peloponnese, Greece. Her recent publications include: Culture Agonistes: Debating Culture, Rereading Texts (co-editor, Bern 2002); Contemporary Greek Fiction: International Orientations and Crossings (co-editor, Athens 2002); Walter Benjamin: Images and Myths of Modernity (editor, Athens 2007) and History of European Literature: 18th–20th C (co-author, Patras 2008).

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Table of Contents

Introduction Reading Virginia Woolf in Constellation with Walter Benjamin 1

1 Modernity, Modernism and the Past 18

Definitions of modernity 18

Benjamin and modernity 25

Woolf, modernism and the past 30

2 Theories of History, Models of Historiography 37

History and historiography 37

Woolf on history: influences and differences 41

Benjamin's philosophy of history 50

3 Antiquity and Modernity: Jacob's Room and the 'Greek Myth' 60

4 Historical Fictions, Fictional Fashions and Time: Orlando as the 'Angel of History' 75

5 Natural History and Historical Nature in To the Lighthouse and Other Fiction 96

6 Dreaming, History and the Visions of the Obscure in The Years 114

7 This Stage of History: Between the Acts and the

Destruction of Tradition 138

8 A 'Common History': Anonymous Artists

Communal Collectivities 162

Notes 177

Bibliography 215

Index 228

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