Studies in Literature and Culture
The Dionysian in Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts
← 140 | 141 →Katarzyna Sokołowska
Woolf’s vision of reality and of art is marked by the tension of two opposing categories, which can be summed up as the complete, the stable, and the coherent vs the variable, the fluid and the fragmentary. Woolf’s protagonists are usually preoccupied with looking for a refuge from reality, which is caught up in constant change; they are eager to create the world of perfection and unity as Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse, Clarissa in Mrs. Dalloway, Bernard in The Waves, to mention a few. At the same time, Woolf opts for the world in flux, not determined by clearly defined reference points. In her fiction she embraces the modernist formula of questioning all widely shared values and cognitive strategies in the areas of culture, religion, philosophy and psychology. In her famous, somewhat provocative statement, she placed the experience of the radical transformation of reality at around the year 1910. This experience made her focus on the search for original, revolutionary forms that would match the era of fundamental change, but also inspired her to seek a new understanding of the relationship between art and reality in order to convey deeper insights in her literary works. Her fiction registers the conflict between the need to design rules for structuring chaos and the rejection of obsolete forms rooted in the metaphysical absolutes.
This conflict also informs Woolf’s last novel, Between the Acts. Recently more and more critics opt for the interpretation of the novel which ignores the theme...
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