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English 125D Week 7 Notes

by: Ali Lafferty

English 125D Week 7 Notes 125D

Marketplace > University of California Berkeley > English > 125D > English 125D Week 7 Notes
Ali Lafferty
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About this Document

These notes cover major themes and background information on Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.
The 20th Century Novel
Professor Donna Jones
Class Notes
english, Woolf, modernism
25 ?




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ali Lafferty on Friday October 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 125D at University of California Berkeley taught by Professor Donna Jones in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 2 views. For similar materials see The 20th Century Novel in English at University of California Berkeley.


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Date Created: 10/14/16
Background on Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway comes in sort of the middle of her career She was part of the Bloomsbury circle of intellectuals, yay! Mrs. Dalloway is particular: it’s a novel that comes from inside people’s heads The mode of experimentation Woolf uses has an argument behind it: what does Woolf’s style say about her argument? Things to think about “The novel has a greater truth in this way than in 3 person omniscient narrative” – Prof Jones Woolf’s world is unfiltered Rezia: she operates with no knowledge of what Septimus thinks and feels We as readers get both accounts, his and hers, not just Rezia seeing his symptoms Septimus still lives in the trenches, as we discover We might think Clarissa is frivolous from a surface view, but there is so much more going on Meanwhile Peter Walsh is suuuuuper clueless! Death doesn’t stop Clarissa’s existence in things The novel makes ALL THESE DIFFERENT THINGS HAPPENING AT ONCE COMPLETELY POSSIBLE Clarissa also has a motif of ignoring problems: she wants to think everything is fine after the war but her sense of restoration is broken by that “violent explosion” of the car backfiring We see symbols of the order Clarissa craves in figures of power, like the Queen This order remains elusive, however, because we don’t often actually see these figures Dynamic pattern of memory, depiction of how thought works Chaos occurs in novel as we try to order thoughts, and rumor is a product of this chaos There is a sense of not only anticipation but also general chaos, this is a metanarrative element Other war poets to keep in mind: Owens, Sassoon, Apollinaire, etc These poets are steeped in experience of trench warfare It’s difficult to think about the novel without thinking about war! So many intellectuals of this period were veterans “WWI marks introduction of irony, also produces euphemisms we still use today” – Prof Jones Violence of WWI is unlike any other previous violence, so literary forms change to deal with that trauma and psychoanalysis becomes a Thing Shellshock!! “Belatedness” is the real threat with shellshock, because the past comes forth into the Now and affects all these men with what they previously experienced This war trauma is central to changes in modernist prose style Septimus Smith operates out of sync with Clarissa’s time He can never leave the war, and he gathers the thoughts of all the others—we see him and we don’t see him, and he sees and doesn’t see (multiperspectivalism) Woolf describes Septimus as “a finer type of man”, although his capabilities and sensitivities are destroyed by shellshock Everyone reacts to Smith but they don’t know why they do so Septimus’ suicide, meanwhile, introduces death at Clarissa’s party, marking a break with her motif of ignoring problems Septimus’ experience with life: overwhelmingly filled with things He experiences a sort of beauty in certain things that is too much, too rich, and it destroys him a little, it affects him He’s sensitive to everything, this is part of why his sense of time is so different from everyone else’s The ultimate goal of the novel: show that our interiors are structured similarly The small things like the party weigh on Clarissa like trench warfare weighs on Septimus, like not marrying Clarissa weighs on Peter Walsh This seems problematic to jump to this conclusion though? Memory relies on equivocation and all of the characters equivocate as they remember, every little tiny past memory represents a potential catastrophe


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