"This odd mix up" : intersectional spaces in Virginia Woolf’s Between the acts
This thesis sets out to examine the physical, private/domestic and public/national space, as well as the complex interrelations between them, as represented in Woolf’s last novel, Between the Acts (1941). My method involves a gradual broadening of the perspective. I begin by studying the representation and symbolism of physical objects and spaces of Pointz Hall – the novel’s setting, before moving on to a discussion of the domestic objects and architecture, and their implications for the family and domestic sphere. Finally, I investigate the elements of national space in the novel, and the tense relationship between the private and public space – “this odd mix up”, a consequence of Woolf’s feeling of her private sphere being invaded by the public event of war (Diary V 110). The constant and somewhat rapid oscillation between private and public, and the various planes of action in the pageant scene, as well as the concomitant fragmentation of the narrative, invite a spatial/simultaneous apprehension of the scene and the whole novel, a fact which, to my knowledge, has gone unremarked by critics. Thus, using Joseph Frank’s (1941) essay on spatialisation of form in modern literature as a conceptual framework, I analyse the spatiality of the novel’s form, and suggest that its interlocking planes fit in mosaic patterns evocative of Cubist art. All in all, the simultaneous summoning up of “all life, all art, all waifs & strays”, and the old English country house with the adjacent landscape, seems to be Woolf’s nostalgic last glance at “all things lovely” (Diary V 135, 351).
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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