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Modernism and MelancholiaWriting as Countermourning$
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Sanja Bahun

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199977956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977956.001.0001

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Virginia Woolf and the Search for Historical Patterns

Virginia Woolf and the Search for Historical Patterns

Between the Acts

Chapter:
(p.154) 4 Virginia Woolf and the Search for Historical Patterns
Source:
Modernism and Melancholia
Author(s):

Sanja Bahun

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977956.003.0005

The chapter is dedicated to Virginia Woolf’s posthumously published novel Between the Acts (1941). Woolf’s text is examined in the context of its twin urge to represent historical occlusions, barriers, and fragmentations, and yet forge an aesthetic whole that would meaningfully speak to whatever link is still binding people. The interpretation focuses on the writer’s probing of the relationship between the destructive work of history and the productive work of art, and the figurative strategies she developed in order to, on the one hand, represent a new, “melancholic” model of subjectivity, and, on the other hand, dissect the phenomenon of anticipatory grief. As the chapter highlights, Between the Acts is a text where Woolf engages most directly with Freud’s “heterogenic turn,” namely, his recasting of subjecthood as a melancholic precipitate of past object-cathexes, as well as with his theory of the intertwined activity of the erotic and death drive.

Keywords:   virginia woolf, between the acts, melancholia, subjectivity, anticipatory mourning, second world war

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