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Title: 'The nameless spirit' : the sketches of Virginia Woolf
Author: Kore, Leena-Kreet
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1986
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The thesis establishes that the sketch is an independent aesthetic form requiring its own methods of critical and historical analysis; and, that the sketches of Virginia Woolf can be read best in the context of this tradition. Almost exclusively, the sketches that are considered are the "plotless" works such as "A Haunted House", "Monday or Tuesday", and "Blue and Green"--more enigmatic and rather more obscure than those of a conventional sense of action and plot like "The Duchess and the Jeweller" or "The Legacy". It is explained how in Virginia Woolf criticism to date, the sketches have been regarded as literary exercises in preparation for her more substantial novels; an interpretation that the thesis displaces by showing that the sketches are equal to the novels in terms of their imaginative stature. The tradition with which Virginia Woolf's sketches are identified is specifically Symbolist, and Aesthetic in the complete sense. In terms of the derivation of "aesthetic" from the Greek for "to perceive", the thesis proposes that the sketch is the supreme expression of the Aesthetic vision: it is a form of Pater's "pure perception", a state of aesthetic consciousness in itself, within the framework of whose suspended moment, an idea, image or impression is retained even as the object or experience has already passed away. The thesis especially emphasizes that the sketch is allusive and brief not because it stylistically imitates an effect, but rather, because it reflects a necessarily fragmented way of seeing. It is in the sense of this distinction that the sketch is not a subsidiary of the short story. Therefore, writing that is fragmented because it is the expression of a specific vision, is placed in a proper sketch tradition which develops variously from De Quincey, Lamb and Landor, through to Rossetti and, with much emphasis, Pater, and the French Symbolism of Mallarme. Symons and the sketches of such 'Nineties writers as Crackanthorpe and Dowson are discussed, as are relevant twentieth century movements such as Cubism and the Imagism of Amy Lowell's "polyphonic prose". These movements and writers are analyzed in comparison with Virginia Woolf's sketches; and, with reference to issues of structure, characterization, content, perspective and use of syntax, the thesis defines both the nature of the aesthetic consciousness, and the "nameless spirit" in the sketches of Virginia Woolf.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature