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From Individual to Collective

Virginia Woolf’s Developing Concept of Consciousness


Masako Nasu

This book argues that a profound shift can be found in the works of Virginia Woolf, from an early «pursuit of the individual» to a late «pursuit of the collective». Evidence for this shift is found both in the narrative modes she employed and the methods by which thought is represented in the works themselves, and in ideas and ruminations found in Woolf’s diaries and essays. The stylistic analysis covers works from The Voyage Out (1915) to the posthumously published Between the Acts (1941), and shows how several of the shorter pieces can be considered to be experiments with techniques that were fully employed in Woolf’s longer, major fictions. This shift arises from changes in Woolf’s concept of the conscious and unconscious over time, and the argument shows how she took deliberate steps to reflect these changes in her fiction. This framework provides key insights for new interpretations of her works.

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3. Pursuit of the Individual (2): Establishing Internal Realism


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3.   Pursuit of the Individual (2): Establishing Internal Realism

As my stylistic analysis has clarified, we can glimpse the ‘buds’ of internal realism in Jacob’s Room, which is widely regarded as Woolf’s first experimental novel. In this chapter, I examine two of Woolf’s representative ‘stream of consciousness’ novels, Mrs Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927), which are both generally regarded as fully developed examples of Woolfian internal realism.

3.1  Mrs Dalloway (1925) as the consummation of Woolfian internal realism

3.1.1  The use and effect of Direct Thought in ‘Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street’ (1922)

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