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Reincarnating Shakespeare's Sister: Virginia Woolf and the ``Uncircumscribed Spirit'' of Fiction

Abstract : In order to explore the relationship between the fictional, the spiritual, and the feminine in Virginia Woolf's thought, two of her important essay-manifestos, ``Modern Fiction'' (1919/1925) and A Room of One's Own (1928), are read here in parallel. In ``Modern Fiction'', Woolf describes the task of writers as that of capturing an ``unknown, uncircumscribed spirit'', otherwise defined as ``reality'', ``truth'' or ``life itself''. This ``spirit'' or vital ``reality'', however, is constituted in the movement of the writing subject towards it, a movement that dissolves the boundaries between subject and object. It is also represented as immanent to the material world, capable of investing the subject in a ``moment of vision''. The tension established between the writing subject and this vital ``spirit'' or ``reality'' has implications for the relationship between women and fiction Woolf imagines in A Room of One's Own. For the movement of the writing subject beyond the self and towards the vital ``spirit'' of the ``real'' proves to be essential for the reincarnation of ``Shakespeare's sister'', that is, for the creation of a genuinely feminine literature.
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Naomi Toth. Reincarnating Shakespeare's Sister: Virginia Woolf and the ``Uncircumscribed Spirit'' of Fiction. E-rea - Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone, Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone, 2011, 8 (2), ⟨10.4000/erea.1696⟩. ⟨hal-01640053⟩



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