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Title: The insect world : an entomological reading of Virginia Woolf
Author: Sarsfield, R. V.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2004
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In this thesis I explore the extent and significance of insect imagery in the writing of Virginia Woolf. I investigate this imagery’s origins, its consistent presence across Woolf’s oeuvre, and the varied figurative meanings it carries in her writing. In addition, I demonstrate that, as well as having a central metaphorical significance in every area of her writing, Woolf’s insect imagery also serves a secondary purpose, as it is repeatedly used to represent the writing process and the author. For, throughout her writing career, Woolf was acutely aware of, and deeply fascinated with social organisation in all its permutations, a fascination unmistakably evident in her work, where the notion of ‘society’ is tirelessly considered and discussed. One very striking aspect of this preoccupation is that it is inseparable from an insect symbology that is both highly complex and often put to highly original uses in her writing. The first half of my thesis examines how focusing on Woolf’s entomological imagery provides key insights into how she viewed civilisation and her place within it as a woman (and a writer); while the second half looks at how the lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) imagery that is equally prominent in her work is bound up with her writing at a fundamental level, where, in an echo of the butterfly and moth collecting that she enjoyed as a young girl, Woolf’s perpetual quest to find the perfect word(s) becomes wholly identified - and ultimately wholly synonymous - with the search for the perfect butterfly.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available