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Virginia Woolf: Writing the World$
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Pamela L. Caughie and Diana L. Swanson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780990895800

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780990895800.001.0001

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date: 23 October 2017

“And the donkey brays”: Donkeys at Work in Virginia Woolf

“And the donkey brays”: Donkeys at Work in Virginia Woolf

Chapter:
(p.136) “And the donkey brays”: Donkeys at Work in Virginia Woolf
Source:
Virginia Woolf: Writing the World
Author(s):

Elizabeth Hanna Hanson

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780990895800.003.0018

While the donkey is a figure of toil, it is also a figure of fun. This essay will explore how the donkey bears both of these associations vividly in Virginia Woolf’s writing. It is in their labor that donkeys most often inhabit Woolf’s imagination through hundreds of mentions in her writing in all genres. Woolf associates their work with the work of the writer. Although Woolf generally uses “donkey work” as a somewhat dismissive term, this essay examines the “donkey work” that the ubiquitous donkey does in Woolf’s writing. Throughout Woolf’s work, donkeys function as figures of humor, ordinariness, or suffering and their often peripheral placement is itself significant. Woolf’s donkeys are never central; rather, they are pervasively marginal. This paper focuses primarily on Woolf’s donkeys as they appear in several of her essays and in Between the Acts (1941).

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts, Essays, Donkey, Donkey work, Writing, How Should One Read a Book

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