A Portrait Gallery: the Biographical and Autobiographical Echoes in Virginia Woolf's Major Novels  

Abstract Category: Arts
Course / Degree: Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) English
Institution / University: University of Malta, Malta
Published in: 2004

Thesis Abstract / Summary:

My interest in Virginia Woolf started when I came across one of her novels, Mrs. Dalloway, in a local shop and, after reading it, my first reaction was one of confusion – the novel seemed to make a lot of fuss about nothing at all. Yet, in all its fuzziness, there was something intriguing about it. Unlike any other novel, it did not attempt to describe characters, settings, life – it actually WAS life, written right there, black ink on white paper. It managed to capture life in all its chaos, humdrum, beauty and repulsiveness. The characters scuttle through their lives as if it were an inescapable maze until the point when they have to face a dead-end…death!

I must say that having To the Lighthouse on the course syllabus further reinforced my fascination with Virginia Woolf’s style of writing and I only had to read Hermione Lee’s biography to ‘fall in love’ with her as an author as well as a human being and to become totally enchanted by the whole Bloomsbury world of which she was part. My obsession with her work and her life grew by the minute and writing this dissertation about her was the only way I could do justice to my fixation. After having read all of her novels and most of her short stories, consulted numerous critical works, and visited her house and that of her sister’s in Sussex, I felt I was equipped with enough material and spur to write a dissertation about the amalgamation of Virginia Woolf’s work and life.

Thus, this dissertation deals with the way that Woolf’s family, friends, and life ooze out of the narrative and perhaps contribute to take the novel on another level of meaning. Issues such as insanity, lesbianism, marriage, androgyny, literary success, and death are seen through the eye of Virginia Woolf and are exposed in the novels that are dealt with in this dissertation – Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando: a Biography – and many others. The similarities between the cast of characters that Woolf chooses to let perform in her theatre and certain members of her family and friends are amazing. Among others, the dissertation proposes the following comparisons: Septimus Smith and Clarissa Dalloways as two aspects of Virginia Woolf herself, Mr. Ramsay and Mrs. Ramsay as Sir Leslie and Julia Stephen, Lily Briscoe as Virginia Woolf, again, and Orlando as Vita Sackville-West.

In addition, the dissertation proves that most of the scenery and settings that Virginia chooses to place her characters in are actually a re-production of places that Virginia either lived in or visited in her lifetime. Above all, the dissertation hopefully proves that Roland Barthes’s notion of the ‘Death of the Author’ does not always apply as, in this case, the author’s presence is essential and is felt as a constant and strong presence in the novel.

Thesis Keywords/Search Tags:
Virginia Woolf, Modernism, Orlando, To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, Biography, Autobiography

This Thesis Abstract may be cited as follows:
Cauchi, Tiziana - A Portrait Gallery: the Biographical and Autobiographical Echoes in Virginia Woolf's Major Novels

Submission Details: Thesis Abstract submitted by Tiziana Cauchi from Malta on 01-Jul-2005 20:30.
Abstract has been viewed 2762 times (since 7 Mar 2010).

Tiziana Cauchi Contact Details: Email: tcau001@msn.com

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