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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.2, 351 ~ 373, 2020
The Mystery of Things in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves
김선재 Sun Jai Kim
Virginia Woolf’s conceptualization of life as “a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end” in her essay entitled “Modern Fiction” published in 1919 demonstrates her deep interest in an inseparable relation between human consciousness and things such as an envelope. However, although critics have noted with increasing urgency how Woolf formulates objects and things in relation with language and subjects in her works, there have been relatively few studies on Woolf’s exploration and representation of things in her full-length novels. Literary critics as eminent as Bill Brown and Douglas Mao have particularly focused on how Woolf’s short story entitled “Solid Objects” represents a new sensation of things by focalizing a man’s weird attachment to useless objects. While drawing on some of the significant arguments made by the critics who analyzed Woolf’s insight into things in the short story, this article mainly concerns Woolf’s thoughts about things in The Waves. This article’s central claim is that the mystery of things represented in The Waves lies in their paradoxical existence inside and outside of language at the same time. The mystery of things, I hope to show in this article, urges one to escape the dangerous confinement of narcissistic self, which can lead towards an imperialistic and totalitarian drive to subjugate disparate beings and things. The article also hopes to kindle an interest in Woolf’s reconceptualization of modernism’s public world as a place to radically rethink one’s relation with things.
Key Words
사물들, 사물의 신비, 주체, 언어, 몸, things, the mystery of things, subject, language, body
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