Thursday, November 5, 2009

Virginia Woolf a Modest Witness?

While I read A Room of One's Own, I could not help but see connections between certain ideas the narration described to that of T.S. Eliot's Tradition and the Individual Talent.

T.S. Eliot writes, "It is not in his personal emotions, the emotions provoked by particular events in his life, that the poet is in any way remarkable or interesting...[t]he business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to... use the ordinary ones express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all."

It is the characteristic described by Eliot that I think Woolf's narrator admires in Shakespeare when she says he has an "incandescent, unimpeded" mind. The same can be said of the narrator's admiration for Jane Austen's ability to overcome the emotions of gender inequality when the narrator says, "I read a page or two to see; but I could not find any signs that her circumstances had harmed her work in the slightest... without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching." I think she is spelling out exactly what T.S. Eliot saw as "an escape from personality".

My question to you is do you think Virginia Woolf violates these terms in producing A Room of One's Own or is she maintaing the integrity of a novelist because her "conviction... gives one that this is the truth"?

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