Women’s Short Fiction from Virginia Woolf to Ali Smith
Edited By Laura Lojo Rodriguez
Chapter 1. The Shape of Things to Come: Virginia Woolf’s“The Mark on the Wall” 15 - JULIÁN DÍAZ MARTÍNEZ AND LOURDES E. SALGADO VIÑAL
JULIÁN DÍAZ MARTÍNEZ AND LOURDES E. SALGADO VIÑAL Chapter 1. The Shape of Things to Come: Virginia Woolf’s “The Mark on the Wall” This chapter looks into Virginia Woolf’s short story (1917) as articulation of a feminine subjective experience, standing against a masculine world which places the female as the “angel in the house”. In their view, Woolf’s text best epitomizes her theories concerning ﬁ ction-making, understood as articulation of individual experience in opposition to more traditional, male-centred approaches to narrative ﬁ ction. This article looks into Woolf’s “The Mark on the Wall” via Slavoj Žižek’s reassessment of modernism. In Woolf’s short story, the symbolic order is rendered as a blot which disturbs the female narrator consciousness and threatens the alleged coherence of male hegemony. In that sense, the story’s motif — a mark on the wall — may work as an instance of visual anamorphosis, thus provoking a distortion of reality as symbolically construed. Woolf’s “The Mark on the Wall” posits an alternative sphere of enjoyment, namely the strong subjective desire paramount in Žižek’s theories, made available through the gaps of the symbolic order which structures reality. In Wilkie Collins’s Basil (1852), we come across a perfect expres- sion of the ideal of female submission in the male protagonist’s picture of a “woman in whom we [men] could put as perfect faith and trust, as if we were children; whom we despair of ﬁ nding near the harden- ing inﬂ uences of the world” (Collins 2008a: 22). Such...
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