Virginia Woolf and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel
Traces Woolf’s persistent yet vexed fascination with nineteenth-century descriptions of English domesticity and female creativity.
In Virginia Woolf and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel, Emily Blair explores how nineteenth-century descriptions of femininity saturate both Woolf’s fiction and her modernist manifestos. Moving between the Victorian and modernist periods, Blair looks at a range of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sources, including the literature of conduct and household management, as well as autobiography, essay, poetry, and fiction. She argues for a reevaluation of Woolf’s persistent yet vexed fascination with English domesticity and female creativity by juxtaposing the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell and Margaret Oliphant, two popular Victorian novelists, against Woolf’s own novels and essays. Blair then traces unacknowledged lines of influence and complex interpretations that Woolf attempted to disavow. While reconsidering Woolf’s analysis of women and fiction, Blair simultaneously deepens our appreciation of Woolf’s work and advances our understanding of feminine aesthetics.
Emily Blair teaches English in the Humanities Division at Solano Community College in Fairfield, California.
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