Thoughts on the Triangle of Author, Reader, and Character in Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway'.
Mention Virginia Woolf and almost inevitably the words 'stream of consciousness' will appear. But what does this actually mean, and how does Woolf distance herself from both reader and Clarissa, and, indeed, does she bother? Mrs Dalloway is, we are frequently told, a radical new form of prose breaking the mould of 19th century fiction. Virginia Woolf herself predicted 'we are trembling on the verge of one of the greatest ages of English literature' as she and James Joyce struggled to define a new method of capturing character. She argued here that 'all human relationships have shifted' as a result of the Great War, rendering the Edwardian character portrait obsolete. The entanglement of reader, author, and character were as much a part of this new effort to depict personality as a 'multi-layered self, in which dreams, memories, and fantasies were as important as actions and thoughts' as they are vital to reading the novel. Using as a copy text edited by Stella McNichol this essay will boldly set forth in an attempt to determine the subtle web of relationships woven between these three combatants.
Woolf felt her greatest breakthrough in the composition of Mrs Dalloway was her discovery of a...
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