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Forces of unworking in Virginia Woolf’s “Time Passes”


Heine, Stefanie (2019). Forces of unworking in Virginia Woolf’s “Time Passes”. Textual Cultures, 12(1):120-136.

Abstract

The middle part of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, “Time Passes”, presents a seemingly post-human setting in which destruction reigns. Read today, this scenario immediately evokes imaginations of the Anthropocene while resisting teleological notions of an end-time. Rather, “Time Passes” is pervaded by forces of unworking: agency slips into passivity, whatever is done becomes undone. A holiday house abandoned by human beings decays to “rack and ruin” until a group of cleaners attempts to reverse nature’s work. Both the natural forces taking over and the cleaners engage in processes that are simultaneously destructive and productive. An analogous dynamic can be observed in Woolf’s writing and editing practices: her laborious revisions mainly consist in deleting. As Woolf continually erases large parts of her writing, composition and decomposition are interwoven.

Abstract

The middle part of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, “Time Passes”, presents a seemingly post-human setting in which destruction reigns. Read today, this scenario immediately evokes imaginations of the Anthropocene while resisting teleological notions of an end-time. Rather, “Time Passes” is pervaded by forces of unworking: agency slips into passivity, whatever is done becomes undone. A holiday house abandoned by human beings decays to “rack and ruin” until a group of cleaners attempts to reverse nature’s work. Both the natural forces taking over and the cleaners engage in processes that are simultaneously destructive and productive. An analogous dynamic can be observed in Woolf’s writing and editing practices: her laborious revisions mainly consist in deleting. As Woolf continually erases large parts of her writing, composition and decomposition are interwoven.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
470 Latin & Italic languages
410 Linguistics
440 French & related languages
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
Language:English
Date:19 April 2019
Deposited On:10 Jan 2020 15:36
Last Modified:07 Apr 2020 07:24
Publisher:Indiana University Press
ISSN:1559-2936
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.14434/textual.v12i1.27150
Related URLs:https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/textual/article/view/27150 (Publisher)

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Embargo till: 2020-10-20