Degree Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Advisor(s)

David Walker

Committee Member(s)

Jennifer Bryan
Sandra Zagarell

Keywords

Virginia Woolf, Woolf, The Years, The Waves, Language, Narrative, Sound, Music

Abstract

Can words ever express a truth beyond language? Virginia Woolf explores this persistent question most directly in two of her late novels, The Waves and The Years. The two appear to sit at opposite ends of the spectrum of her writing, The Waves embodying interiority and vision and The Years embodying exteriority and fact. The apparent realism of The Years, following on the heels of the impressionism of The Waves, has caused many critics to dismiss it as an aberration. But in fact the later novel is far from a regression to traditional realism: it takes up where its predecessor leaves off, attempting to find a transcendence through language while looking honestly at the conditions and limits of that transcendence. Examining them as a pair illuminates both novels, showing The Years to offer a surprisingly strange and even mystical model of language and the world.

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