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East-West Dialogues: The Transferability of Concepts in the Humanities

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Edited By Christoph Bode, Michael O'Sullivan, Lukas Schepp and Eli Park Sorensen

This is an edited collection of essays drawn from collaborative events organized jointly by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The book focuses on how literary and cultural perspectives from different humanities academic environs in Asia and Europe might contribute to our understanding of the "transferability of concepts." Exploring ways in which these traditions may enter into new and productive collaborations, the book presents readings of a wide range of Western and Eastern writers, including Shakespeare, J.M. Coetzee, Yu Dafu. The book contains a virtual round table followed by four thematic sections – "Travels and Storytelling," "Translation and Transferability," "Historical Contexts and Transferability," and "Aesthetic Contexts and Transferability."

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Chapter 12: “It was one’s body feeling, not one’s mind”: A Pas de Deux for Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and the Russian Ballet: Chloe Leung

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Chloe Leung

“It was one’s body feeling, not one’s mind”: APas de Deux for Virginia Woolf’s To theLighthouse and the Russian Ballet

“It was absurd. It was impossible. One could not say what one meant” (18).

To the Lighthouse occupies a tripartite structure: “The Window,” “Time Passes,” and “The Lighthouse.” In a notebook dated March 1925, Woolf envisions the novel as “Two blocks joined by a corridor” which formed a shape like the letter ‘H’ (The Original Holograph Draft 48). At the same time, Woolf also wishes to break through these designs: she must “break up, dig deep, make prose move […] as prose has never moved before” (Diary Vol. 4 11). Choreographing a movement for her prose, Woolf configures writing as a rhythmical dance that oscillates between “breaking up” and “digging deep.” Although much has been said about the lyrical quality in Woolf’s prose, the choreographic and physical impetus of Woolf’s lyrical quality remains overlooked. This pattern that shapes Woolf’s prose, I suggest, can be informed by the dance culture that swept across the early twentieth-century. From the 1910s to the 1930s, the Russian ballet was recognised as a major force composing the fabric of modern dance. Most notable is Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, a French-based Russian ballet company that came into vogue in London. Many novelists and poets, including Woolf, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, and Andre Gide, are conscious of the impact the Russian ballet had on their writing.1 Indeed, Woolf was an...

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